What’s the market doing?

August 16, 2020 1:38 pm Published by

What does a reopening strategy look like? As the hospitality industry reached its long-awaited opening date, I spent some time reviewing city centre hotels in Edinburgh and their online strategies. There’s been a wealth of information circulating online, ranging from interviews with leading experts to companies sharing statistics from European and Eastern markets who are ahead of the UK in timelines, all offering information and advice on reopening strategies. So, what’s been adopted? Looking at a range of properties, ranging from luxury brands to budget hotels in the Edinburgh market, several interesting strategies are being followed.

  • OTAs are still being used across them all, which is understandable. Keep your distribution channels open.
  • Surprisingly few properties had a book direct benefit. Direct bookings should be the most cost-effective way for a hotel to receive bookings – give the customer incentive to do it. Yes, keep opportunities open with other channels but actively drive business to your brand website to book.
  • Only one hotel offered an incentive to buy or book anything else – a percentage amount off vouchers bought now to use later, or a discount in F&B if a room is booked. It’s not always a feasible option, but was one that stuck in my mind.
  • There isn’t a great deal of discounting happening, although prices are considerably lower than they usually would be for this time of year. With occupancy levels in Edinburgh reportedly around 8% in July and 15% in August, heavily discounted rates aren’t going to drive significant demand.
  • Short term strategies seem to be the focus. Looking at dates towards the end of the year and into 2021, rates are mostly (not all) as they would have been in a ‘normal’ Winter season.
  • One of my main observations was the wide range of rates available – scrolling down and deciphering the differences took time and often things still weren’t clear. For someone who is used to looking at (and building) room rates, it was a bit of a minefield to shop around –
    pretend you know nothing about hotels. Then try and book a room on your own site. Better still, get a family member from outside the industry to do it for you. How would they navigate through what you’re offering?
    My advice? Keep it simple;
  • Have a book direct benefit for your brand website. Make the most cost-effective way to book also the best for the guest.
  • Review your distribution channels. Use the channels to target the domestic market, rather than international, in your short term strategy. Many hotels may have been closed and then reopened and may still be running irrelevant promotions – move those promotions to your long term (2021) strategy.
  • Streamline your rates. Do you need flexible, semi-flexible, non-refundable on all Room Only and Bed and Breakfast rates on every room type?
  • And review your rates. For many around Scotland, this would be high season. We aren’t going to see the volume of international visitors this year so have a look at pricing, and keep your domestic traveller in mind.
    If you’d like to discuss anything