While working with our boutique hotel partners over the past few months, we noticed a recurring theme. Bookings for long term stays or planned vacations are down, while same day and next day bookings are up.
Now, the first part of that statement may seem obvious: business travel or vacation planning has been put on hold due to the current travel risk and state mandate to stay at home. During this time, people have not been venturing far from their homes, and with government stay at home orders extending at every deadline, it has been nearly impossible to plan for any future travel at all.
The second part of our observation is where things get interesting: increases in same day and next day bookings. Surprised by this paradox, we asked our hotel partners for some insight into the type of guests making these bookings. We learned that while most people are not making plans to travel right now, many have made unexpected trips to see family members and have required a safe and dependable place to self-quarantine. Most of these travelers are not flying to these are renting cars and traveling across the country when needed. Boutique hotels are a more appealing option to these last-minute travelers than larger hotel chains that may not be able to offer the same attention to detail and the ability to self-isolate.
The Economist published an article further confirming these findings The article shared hotel searches depicting a spike in domestic travel during March and April of 2020, bringing it close to the same rate as March and April of 2019. International travel, however, has remained down since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. When analyzed by specific countries, Italy and the U.S. were close to normal with other countries trending closely behind.
How do we best respond to this trend?
Boutique hotels should aim to create a highly informational and effortless booking experience on their websites. If a guest has made it to the booking section of a hotel website, they are likely to be traveling in the near future and are therefore demonstrating high booking intent. With this audience, it is important to use digital tools, such as onsite engagement or a promo bar, to proactively communicate the steps taken to ensure cleanliness and other safety precautions. If a future guest doesn’t get this reassurance, they will look for another hotel where they can be assured their stay will be clean and comfortable.
We’ve found that a large part of the booking decision comes down to educating customers on hotel policy. Instead of using discounts or promotions to get the customer over the decision hump, onsite engagement messages with updated information on ‘How to stay safe when staying with us’ decreases the booking abandonment rate of our clients significantly.
If you are interested in learning more about Cybba’s digital solutions for hotel websites to capture this emerging customer profile, reach out to our digital specialists today or download our onsite engagement datasheet.