The world is changing every single day. We’re seeing the rise of the Delta variant—and with that, the travel industry is beginning to shift again. But one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light is that people want to travel, and there’s huge pent-up demand for it. That means there’s real opportunity ahead for the hotel industry—and there are actionable ways hoteliers can drive revenue in a world ever-changed by COVID.
SHR is an elite connectivity partner of Expedia, which recognizes top connectivity partners for maintaining high quality connections that help empower properties to perform at the best on the Expedia Group marketplace. Only 2.5% of providers are recognized as elite. We recently connected with Expedia to discuss the ways in which hoteliers can implement strategies to take advantage of today’s traveler trends—all backed by research. Following are those three trends and how you can capitalize on them.
- Travelers Want to Stay Longer
Using its own data and surveying 16,000 travelers, Expedia found that travel is rebounding in 2021 (with the caveat that the Delta variant could cause quick changes). The research shows that 45% of travelers want to visit a beach resort, 36% a major city, 33% a small town or village, 25% a rural area, and 22% a mountain area. Additionally, the research shows that travelers want to stay longer on their trips. Top reasons to book an extra night include: a discount, free breakfast, upgraded room, drink or food vouchers, and attending an event or experience unique to the location.
You should encourage extended stays by giving guests a reason to stay longer. For instance, if the Delta variant leads to in-person school being cancelled again, consider marketing a “flexcation,” noting the ability for students and parents to complete work from your hotel.
Also, load your inventory 365 days in advance because 66% of bookings are now being made before the last-minute window, which is defined as 21 days. One hotel in Taiwan increased net room nights 150% and grew revenue 392% by loading its inventory 365 days ahead.
SHR’s Windsurfer has a feature that will automatically sync ARI for the next greatest future booking date every night, ensuring your hotel always has the maximum booking window available. You can also add promotions on Expedia in Windsurfer.
- Travelers Want Flexibility
Last year, two-thirds of people were willing to book a nonrefundable room in exchange for a discounted rate. Today, that’s flipped with only 40% willing to do so. With the Delta variant causing so much uncertainty, travelers want to be able to cancel or reschedule in case something happens.
You need to offer—and communicate—flexibility when it comes to cancellations and your refund policy. Expedia’s research shows that 1 in 3 travelers will filter by refundable cancellation policy when searching for accommodations. If you don’t offer such a policy, you risk not even showing up in some searches. Case in point: One hotel in Miami offered a flexible cancellation policy and actually achieved a 7% lower cancellation rate than comparable hotels. The property also became No. 1 in STAR ratings for hotels in Miami’s South Beach.
Windsurfer has pre-defined configuration fields for you to build the basis of the cancellation policy. You can also use descriptive text to communicate clearly how the refund policy works. You can also assign your policies by a date range or even two specific rate plans.
- Travelers Want to Envision their Stay and Feel at Home
COVID-19 brought out a change to traveler expectations, and amplified some behaviors. For instance, Expedia’s research shows that 57% of travelers want detailed photos that give them confidence to book an accommodation, and 88% say it’s important to see photos of amenities before booking a hotel. Travelers want an average of nine photos when considering a property.
The types of photos most important to travelers include:
- room (72%);
- bathroom (53%);
- property amenities, such as the pool or lobby (52%);
- property exterior (49%); and
- on-property food and beverage outlets (48%).
Additionally, about 70% of travelers say they would be willing to pay extra for properties that have their favorite amenities and services. The hotel amenities travelers are willing to pay more for are: spa treatment; in-room Jacuzzi; high-speed internet; upgraded room service; and a refrigerator. And, 77% say their accommodation must have these tech amenities: high-speed internet; streaming services; conveniently located USB ports; contactless check-in; smart home speakers; and home office access with things like a printer and scanner.
The lesson? Show everything. If you haven’t audited your property’s photos in the last few years, it’s time to take stock and update where needed. And because travelers want to stay longer, the more you show people how they can feel at home at your property, the better. For example, a hotel in Mexico standardized everything on its website and Expedia and saw a 50% increase in ADR and a 27.5% increase in room nights, year over year.
In Windsurfer, you can update property- and room-level images. Also, be sure to include amenity-related images within your property-setting images.
Keeping Pulse on the Industry
As the travel industry continues to change, SHR and our partners will keep doing our part to bring you the latest trends and research to help you make the best decisions for your business. Ready to see how Expedia and Windsurfer by SHR can help drive more revenue for your hotel? Contact us here