By Jess Murillo, Marketing Consultant, Traveler Engagement
As hotel programs shift and traveler managers look to build more robust programs, it’s essential to use thoughtful behavior-driven strategies to educate travelers on changes within your corporate travel program.
While adding updates to your hotel travel policy is important, there is one key tool you likely aren’t leveraging to help travelers make informed choices: the online booking tool (OBT). Introducing a tactical OBT merchandising strategy for your hotel program is a great way to draw attention to your program while outlining new employee guidelines and driving policy compliance.
Effective hotel merchandising strategies must consider two critical components when placing hotel messaging in the online booking tool: delivering the right message and activating it at the right time.
Crafting your message
First, you need to identify the key goals you want your hotel program to achieve and create educational messaging around them. For example, suppose you want to shift booking culture from looking for the lowest available rate to the best available rate. You must first define what the best available rate means to your company and walk travelers through what goes into building that rate.
- Does the hotel include free parking if travelers are driving or renting a car?
- Does the hotel have a complimentary shuttle for those that don’t have a vehicle with them?
- Does the hotel offer complimentary breakfast in the morning?
- Is the hotel close to restaurants or onsite dining to avoid the need for evening rideshare or taxi services?
All of these additional expenses should be considered when picking a rate. By educating travelers on the potential additional expenditures and how to avoid them with messaging directly in the OBT, you can empower travelers to pick the best options. And remember, while cost savings is often the driver for messaging, a well round approach is always the most effective; consider sustainability, traveler safety, supplier market share, and all other program pillars to have the greatest impact on your program.
Timing your communications
After identifying your messaging strategy, you must consider when and where to deploy your message. This is just as important as the message itself! For a message to be compelling, it must resonate with a traveler at the right time. Policy compliance messaging will be less effective if you only reach the traveler at the end of their booking after they have made all their choices. Instead, think of the booking journey and insert the message when you want to shift behaviors.
- Do you want to increase hotel adoption and prioritize air and hotel segments being booked under one reservation? Add hotel messaging to your air search results page to remind travelers they still have a second step to complete the booking.
- Do you want to promote a chain-wide discount that includes a complimentary hotel shuttle? Add hotel messaging to the car search results page prompting this additional amenity and encouraging travelers to skip the car rental and book within your hotel program.
- Want to drive down meal costs and increase productivity while on the road? Create targeted messaging that promotes hotels in your program that offer complimentary hot breakfasts. Include added verbiage around the ease of eating breakfast on site and skipping the Starbucks line to catch travelers’ attention further.
All of these messages can help transform your hotel program and drive cost savings, but only if they reach the traveler at an impactful time.engagement among travelers.
When it comes to hotels, we recognize that your travelers are faced with many options. By updating your online booking tool with an effective merchandising strategy, you can take it from simply facilitating booking travel to a powerful means to educate and empowers travelers while showcasing a managed and strategic hotel program.