Mythbusters: Recovery Edition – Part I
By Mark Lewis-Brown, CEO & President, Vertical Booking USA
There are lots of messages out there, in the hospitality industry now, about what hotels need to do, or what technology they need to buy, to reach recovery more quickly. Some of these messages are accurate and others… questionable.
But don’t you worry… I’ve got you covered. Get ready for a thorough debunking of three common “myths” related to COVID recovery strategies.
MYTH #1: Business and/or city-center hotels are dead
Truth: There is no type of hotel that can’t reach profitability, even if corporate travel and MICE business doesn’t pick back up again for years. Full stop.
The road to success will be different for these hotels, but still fully attainable; the key to success for city-center and corporate hotels is to make their properties relevant in other ways to the types of consumers that are looking for new, exciting travel experiences. Think about out-of-the box experiential activities that leisure travelers will love – and that will inspire them to choose to book with your property to experience it.
It’s also important to look for opportunities for other revenue streams for your property. Here’s a fantastic idea that The Jupiter Hotel in Portland implemented to boost their appeal to leisure travelers – and create a new revenue stream: they partnered with local restaurants and chefs to create pop-up restaurants, featuring different types of cuisine or well-known chefs. The food was delivered to each guest in their room, giving them a private chef’s table experience to remember!
Here’s why this idea is so genius: by partnering with restauranteurs, they are doing good for the community, while attracting a new demographic to their property: followers of the restaurant or chef. Today, chefs have become the new rock stars, and consumers will follow them around the world to taste their food. By bringing those well-known chefs to your property, you’ll be creating a new revenue stream and securing bookings with lots of new, very excited leisure guests.
MYTH #2: Less is more, when it comes to OTAs & other online booking channels
This is a very prevalent belief, especially in the US, for hoteliers. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand why hoteliers are frustrated and want to drive more direct bookings; that being said, today, hotels need to accept all the bookings that they can – no matter where they come from.
Remember that you only pay the OTAs when you get a booking, so why limit yourself to just listing your property on a few OTAs?! Your property should be listed on as many OTAs and other online booking channels as possible right now, even if it’s just for the free advertising!
As well as the big-name OTAs, hotels should also be listing their property on regional booking sites used by travelers who are interested in traveling to their destination; for example, if you know that there is demand in your destination from European travelers, you should be listing your rooms on their preferred booking sites to capture some of that pre-existing demand.
Another good reason that you should be on as many OTAs as possible: The Billboard Effect. Often, consumers use the OTAs to identify what properties are available in a destination and then will click through to the property’s website to book direct. It’s been proven in countless studies over the years; being listed on as many online booking channels as possible brings in bookings through the sites AND increases direct bookings.
Total win/win, right?!
MYTH #3: “There is no demand on the GDS, so I don’t need to be listed on it”
Don’t disregard the importance of the GDS. Even though there may be fewer bookings coming through the GDS, stats have shown that many travelers, post-COVID, will be preferring to book through travel agents; in fact, a recent study showed that “44% of travelers are more likely to use travel advisors after the pandemic.”
In addition to the leisure travelers who will be using travel agents, post-COVID, there will still be corporate bookings coming through, albeit less. Either way, having a presence on the GDS is another way to expand your reach – again, giving your property the opportunity to secure as many bookings as possible and reach recovery, more quickly.