After the uncertainties and difficulties of the pandemic, it's good to see that the hospitality sector is booming again.
It seems clear both from our own hotel clients and anecdotal evidence, that occupancy is high and ADRs are good.
The overseas sector in particular has returned strongly and is fueling the demand for hotels not only in Dublin but right across Ireland.
This in conjunction with a couple of articles which I read recently on the Think With Google website, led me to wonder how well hotels’ digital strategies are optimised in order to take advantage of this upswing in fortunes.
The industry knows all too well from hard won experience how cyclical the tourism business is.
The pandemic has been particularly brutal with sudden government mandated changes from lockdowns to last minute unplanned reopening.
We hope of course this welcome boost to the tourist economy is sustained however I think we should also be mindful that there are bound to be future shocks.
At Aró our vision is to be a global leader and trusted disruptor for independent luxury hotels Part of executing this vision is that our clients should have well thought out plans on how their business runs - at least 12 months in advance ideally.
One of the Google articles which I mentioned earlier was about the rise in the use of the ‘cheap’ modifier in Google searches in May.
This would seem to indicate that the cost of living crisis is starting to have some effect in the marketplace and while I have no wish to burst the bubble of positivity there is no reason not to be prepared for any downturn in demand due to global events or even recession.
The other article I mentioned refers to how future ready businesses are in terms of their digital maturity.
It highlighted three traits which a company well optimised for a digital future should exhibit.
Google studied 2000 of the world's most digitally mature companies to see what they had in common.
As well as reporting a 5% increase in market share during the pandemic, it was clear that three common traits stood out.
1. Making agile flexible plans
The brands best prepared for the pandemic had sales and marketing programmes which were nimble enough to take advantage of short term opportunities yet also had built in long term resilience
2. Applying a test and learn mindset
The mature digital companies had a strong culture of experimentation and data analysis.
3. Being customer centric
These companies committed to transforming their entire organisation to focus on the customer so they were better prepared to respond to changes in clients behaviors and needs.
These traits align remarkably well with Aró’s own strategies.
The essence of our brand is that we are the future of luxury. We aim to be five star by every measure in our key values of being:
• data driven
• customer focused
By applying these values to our own plans and to those we make with our customers, we maximise the online growth of our luxury hotel clients which means that they are able to thrive during periods of growth and also during any downturn.
The 2000 companies which Google looked at came from many different industries. In Aró we are focused only on hotels however those three traits of planning, data analysis and being customer centric absolutely apply to the way in which we deal with our clients.
For us it all starts with a beautifully designed website, optimised for customer engagement and conversion on both desktop and mobile devices.
This is coupled with best in class digital marketing and our high converting Internet booking engine.
In a previous blog we talked about managing the different booking channels in your hotel.
Whether in good times or bad, the direct booking channel is your friend.
You should aim to plan how much business is coming through each channel 12 months in advance.
In periods such as we are experiencing now when bookings are relatively easy to come by, it will help you drive even more revenue by reducing the inventory available to the OTAs. Selling your rooms via your own website allows you to remain in control of your guests and offer upsells pre and in stay. You can also provide loyalty offers post stay. For example if a customer had a great summer visit you can tempt them back in a quieter period with an appropriate offer.
If there is a downturn, good planning will allow you to pivot your business.
This is exactly what our hotels were able to do when Covid struck.
As tours and overseas visitors disappeared overnight they were able to offer direct booking to key workers or to staycationers as things started to reopen.
Once you have a high performing website it's straight forward to use A/B tests to check two different versions of a page or a call to action to see which one performs better.
Even if there is only 1% difference between them it will make a huge difference to your online revenue in the long run.
This is something we do as standard for all our hotels and when we determine a winning combination, we implement it across all sites.
At Aró we have a culture of experimentation and data analysis and we encourage that in our clients too.
Finally a book direct culture is a customer focused culture. You are giving your guests what they want - an exclusive experience from the hotel not from a corporate giant.
The best value deal for their stay, great service and the option of receiving great deals and offers in the future.
Luxury is not about room nights in a hotel, it's about experiences, creating stories and a feeling of belonging in a place which cares about people.
That's what a mature digital strategy will help you to achieve.
If you are interested in making your hotel ready to take advantage of any opportunities in any economic environment, then we’d be delighted to talk to you.