The growing importance of taking a ‘direct-to-consumer’ approach’

Competition in the hotel industry is greater than ever before, and hoteliers need to take action.

Travellers are looking for value, choice and an experience – a trinity that in the current hospitality industry, is increasingly easy to find. What’s more, consumers are increasingly demanding that their interaction with brands be unique and customised to them.

So with a plethora of eye catching hotel deals on offer, hospitality brands are now relying on creative marketing strategies to ensure their offering stands out. The brands that stand out amongst this abundance of deals will be the ones that leverage technology to position the customer at the centre of everything they do.

Harnessing New Technologies to Connect with Consumers

Today’s consumer is looking for an authentic and seamless brand experience – from initial booking right through to post-stay engagement. While some OTA (online travel agency) platforms offer choice and value, the consumer is missing out on the opportunity to engage directly with the hotel brand and the many benefits this can achieve.

That’s where technology comes in.

The onslaught of digital has forever changed the way we connect, and the industry must not only keep up, but take a lead in harnessing new innovations to maximise collaboration and communication between hotels, customers, authorities and partners in subsidiary industries.
In fact, over half (53%) of hospitality leaders that Jurys Inn polled recently  for the company’s annual ‘Driving UK Tourism’ report, said that the industry needed to do more to embrace the power of technology. We echo this sentiment and firmly believe that hotels must take two steps to achieve this:

  • Draw inspiration from the new sharing economy by providing customers with a direct, digital experience
  • Combine these learnings with a hotel’s USP – the quality and authority of a trusted brand

Based on this shift in engagement, brands are now actively investing in direct-to-consumer campaigns and developing robust strategies to manage their online reputations – such as on review sites like TripAdvisor, which are influential in the consumer buying decision process.

The Direct-to-Consumer Model

The direct-to-consumer model gives companies the opportunity to authentically build their brand image and connections directly with customers by harnessing relationships and rewarding loyalty. When guests choose to come directly to a hotel’s website to search and book, they are looking for a more personal experience that’s rewarding to them, and is of course hugely beneficial to the hotel.  

This is an opportunity for the hotel to grow their customer loyalty base by offering reasons to book directly, such as with exclusive offers on free premium WiFi, room upgrades etc.. Loyalty programmes and discounts are also ways to incentivise customers to book directly through a hotel’s website and helps to create brand advocates.  

Additionally, by utilising social media channels, for instance, and creating a strong online presence on sites such as Twitter and Facebook, hotels can add an extra layer of personalisation in the lead up to and following guest visits.  Such direct engagement includes helping with any special requirements while staying at the hotel, and offering advice on the local tourism attractions. These little touches help hotels build long term relationships with customers.    

What’s more, direct sales allow businesses to collect an incredibly rich source of consumer data which provide insights into consumer needs, and buying behaviours. This data allows brands to tailor personalised experiences to their customers’ expectations, which could differ greatly between business and leisure travellers.

Fresh opportunities, created by better and cheaper technology, are making the direct-to-consumer route more accessible to everyone in the industry. Savvy hotels are following in the steps of OTAs by also offering a rich, personalised and intuitive user experience such as adding validation content (e.g. online reviews) to their websites to encourage consumers to book direct. Other methods include the optimisation of photography for mobile devices, responsive website design, personalised email targeting and search engine optimisation.

The Jury’s Inn ‘Stay Happy’ Campaign

In our efforts to expand our direct-to-consumer approach, Jurys Inn recently launched a £3.9million integrated ‘Stay Happy’ marketing and product campaign earlier this year, the biggest in the group’s history. Qualitative and quantitative research of Jurys Inn customers revealed an increase in digitally savvy customers who prefer to look for the best value online and book through a variety of devices.

The ‘Stay Happy’ campaign includes a refresh of our website and digital experience as we continue to build our direct-to-consumer channels. This new positioning for Jurys Inn marks a renewed focus on those elements of the customer’s stay that have the greatest impact. We are determined to build more direct and tailored relationships with our customers as we look to improve our positioning in the competitive UK and Irish markets.

Wider Consumer Trend

And it’s not just the hospitality world that is turning its head to the direct-to-consumer trend. With recent industry research showing that 88% of consumers preferring to buy directly from a brand’s website if given the option, marketers across a range of industries are developing direct-to-consumer strategies with the ability to build a brand by managing the end-to-end customer experience and through enhanced engagement with customers at multiple touch points across mobile, social, and digital channels and devices.

Consumers want connectivity to enrich every stage of their journey – from building anticipation before a trip to the immersive highs of discovering the best their destination has to offer. Hotel companies need to acknowledge these changes and consider options that will engage their customers and differentiate their brands in this increasingly competitive space. Advances in technology have made it possible to bring real scale to making a brand experience less generic and more personal.

By Jason Carruthers, Managing Director of Jurys Inn Group

Powered by WPeMatico

Latest Posts

Contact Details

the hotel marketer

Phone: 0203 0263660

Email: contact (AT) thehotelmarketer (DOT) com