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Aston to operate 23 budget hotels in 2013

International chain hotel operator Aston International will launch its new budget brand, Neo, by 2013 to tap into the growing business and leisure market in the country.

According to Aston vice president sales and marketing Norbert Vas, 23, Neo hotels are being constructed in 10 major cities across the country.

“Next month we will open our first hotel in Legian, Bali. The rest are expected to operate next year,” he said in Jakarta recently.

Not only will Aston operate the hotels in the leading Meeting, Incentives, Convention and Exhibition (MICE) cities of Jakarta, Denpasar, Bali and Medan, North Sumatra, the operator will also open budget hotels in Bandung, West Java, Surabaya, East Java, Balikpapan, East Kalimantan and Makassar, South Sulawesi.

“The middle class is growing and the market is huge so we plan to enter the second and third tier cities in the future,” he added.

Neo will be Aston’s second two-star hotel operation after the Favehotel brand.

The differences between the two brands are the facilities and design, Vas said.

Neo offers DVD players, mini bars, tea and coffee making facilities, hair dryer as well as vanity mirrors in each room and the basic traveling needs, including hot and cold water shower, LCD television, internet connection and toiletries.

Each hotel will also have swimming pools and medium meeting rooms to accommodate the MICE market.

According to Aston marketing communication manager Febry Anindita, they plan to operate up to 50 Neo hotels across the archipelago over the next three years.

“We will further expand this brand as the undeniable demand for economy hotels with five star facilities in Indonesia develops due to economic growth,” Febry said.

As of today, Aston operates 54 hotels and villas in Indonesia under the brand such as Royal Kamuela, Grand Aston, Aston and Favehotels. (lfr


WIHP partners with Trivago to offer guaranteed ROI for client hotels …


WIHP partners with Trivago to offer guaranteed ROI for client hotels advertising on WIHP DirectPack

Lina Rokou – 03 October 2012, 13:08

Hotel marketing agency WIHP extended its ad platform to integrate Trivago. After a testing period of 45 day, 50 participant hotels reported an average ROI of more than 10 times their original investment.


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Drawing from years of experience in advertising hotels on various channels, including Google Hotel Price ads, TripAdvisor, and many others, World Independent Hotel Promotion (WIHP) has now extended its advertising platform to integrate with Trivago, the world’s largest hotel search engine.

Before advertising on any platform, WIHP tests the channels extensively  to measure the potential ROI for hotels that want to utilize the channel. As a booking channel, Trivago has already outperformed many other booking channels, being among the most effective advertising tools for WIHP customers. Recent testing of some 50 WIHP client hotels revealed a better than 10 times ROI within 45 days for each of the original client investments during the testing period.

Because groups of hotels or independent hotels use different booking engines, they often don’t have access to technology platforms that require complex and advanced programming. WIHP’s experience with advertising on such platforms, added to the experience with independent hotels, makes us a unique partner for our hotel clients,” explained Martin Soler, WIHP’s Marketing Director. He added, “Adding a direct booking option to hotel’s websites on Trivago is an excellent tool in any hotel’s toolbox to increase their direct bookings and profits.

The deal with Trivago now integrates the world’s largest hotel comparison site with WIHP’s high yield advertising platform DirectPack, the first complete online advertising solution developed exclusively to increase direct bookings to hotels. DirectPack is designed for hoteliers by hoteliers, enabling customers to control ad spending, increase direct bookings, and reduce commissions. DirectPack captures high qualified traffic directly for hotel websites to increase direct bookings for a hotel across a range of channels, from Google and Yahoo to TripAdvisor and Trivago, and many more.

OTA challenger Global Hotel Exchange adds Sceptre Hotels to worldwide …

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PR Web

London, UK (PRWEB UK) 21 September 2012

Global Hotel Exchange, the new OTA challenger offering free booking services for hotels, announced today the addition of over 4,000 Sceptre Hospitality Resources hotels to its worldwide distribution.

Sceptre Hospitality Resources’ hotels are supported by the WindsurferCRS technology platform, encompassing a complete global portfolio of resorts and city center destinations from over 60 countries.

“Sceptre Hospitality Resources is committed to driving the technology edge for our client hotels,” stated Rodrigo Jimenez, Sceptre Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer. “Global Hotel Exchange’s free booking platform for hotels offers our hotels a breakthrough alternative to the costly usage of incumbent OTAs.”

Headquartered in Denver, Sceptre Hospitality Resources maximizes revenues for hotels and resorts. Today, more than 4,000 properties rely on Sceptre to provide reservations connectivity, hotel business intelligence, revenue management, Internet marketing services, spa management systems, and powerful booking engines.

About Global Hotel Exchange.
Global Hotel Exchange, ‘The People’s Booking EngineTM’, is a new worldwide hotel-booking platform that intends to drive lowest prices by providing free reservation services for hotels. Global Hotel Exchange charges no merchant discounts, commissions or distribution fees of any kind to hotels. Room bookings, new hotel sign- ups and more information be accessed at or Global Hotel Exchange on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter
Global Hotel Exchange is wholly owned by Global Hotel Exchange LLC with corporate offices in London and United States.
US 877.904.4491
UK 0808-189-1429 info(at)globalhotelexchange(dot)com

About Sceptre Hospitality Resources
Sceptre Hospitality Resources maximizes revenues for hotels and resorts. With the addition of Whiteboard Labs, the company now serves more than 4,000 properties on its reservation platform. In addition to Windsurfer, a state-of-the-art central reservation system (CRS), Sceptre’s other software includes MotionNotes, a video messaging platform, SpaLinx, a spa management and appointment booking application, HotelIQ business intelligence, custom Internet marketing services and revenue management services. Sceptre specializes in electronic distribution, reservations connectivity, channel management, site and search engine optimization, revenue management strategies, reservation call centers and direct booking engines. Sceptre also provides interactive marketing programs, including website design, online advertising campaigns, social media solutions and other guest communication systems. Additional information about Sceptre and hospitality industry

Read the full story at





Bespoke Hotels launches sales and marketing service for independent hotels

Product details: 

The Bespoke Hotel Partnership Agreement is a sales and marketing service for independent hoteliers which allows them to continue running their hotel as they wish, but with extra support in the areas of sales and marketing. Bespoke, which was founded in 2000 by Haydn Fentum and Robin Sheppard says it does not have strict rules on areas such as branding or operations for hotels looking to take up the service,  instead, the contract starts with an understanding that the hotel will fit Bespoke, which currently counts 50 hotels within its collection.


As the name of the company suggests, each agreement it makes is ‘bespoke’, so services will be tailored to the individual hotel, whereas other hotel sales and marketing companies may require a hotel to meet its own guidelines. Bespoke says once it has been agreed that the hotel fits the collection, it will be up to the hotel owner to decide what is right for his or her business.  


Bespoke takes a fixed fee per room and a commission on bookings that it generates. There are no joining or annual service fees. 


Hoteliers interested in the service, should email Robin Sheppard
 to discuss. 

Why you should buy it: 

This service is for independent hoteliers who want to continue running their hotels as they wish, but are looking to increase sales and would like to reach a wider audience through PR and marketing channels. Bespoke already has 50 hotels within its collection, which it both manages and or provides service support, but it is looking to increase the number by up to 20 per year. Hotels already in its portfolio include Cotswold House Hotel and Bermondsey Square Hotel. 

More information:

Hotels seek an edge in offering the right digital perks

One hotel has a customized application that allows guests to request an early check-in or order valet service. Another is offering exercise videos with virtual instructors in its fitness room.

Hotels may have come late to technology, but recently they have been jumping in as travelers, especially those on business trips, demand to be constantly connected and expect hotels to make that possible. Hotels, for their part, now see technology as a way to stand out in the crowd of brands.

“The hotels are looking at a total strategy,” said Lorraine Sileo, vice president of research for the travel market research firm PhoCusWright. “It’s all about interacting with the customer at the right time, at the right place.”

As their homes have become more technologically advanced, travelers want at least as much on the road, if not more. And different age groups and types of travelers expect different types of service from hotels.

“We’re in a period of transition,” said Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of the Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University.

“Hotels are discovering not only how to be different, hotels are trying to figure out what people really want. They seem to want productivity — and the ‘wow factor.’ They ask themselves, ‘Is what I get at the hotel at least as good as what I have at home? It should be better, faster and more impressive than what I have at home.’”

Generational divide

Business travelers vary. “The business traveler is not a uniform population,” Hanson said. “The younger traveler wants to know why they need to plug in. ‘Why not have Wi-Fi everywhere?’ Their expectations are higher. Their work is affected more when current technology is not available. They want technology wherever they are, whenever they need it. They need wireless and they need a lot of capacity.” For baby boomers, he added, a hotel can be a place to try out technology that they have not yet purchased.

David Stahl, president of CrowdMagnet, a specialty marketing company based in Minneapolis, said he traveled 140 to 160 days on average a year. Like many frequent travelers, he carries a smartphone and a laptop, his “two portals to the world.” He relies on various apps, including FlightAware and SeatGuru. Though he said he was “not a tech-driven guy,” he ended up making a dinner reservation via an iPad he found in his room at the Plaza Hotel in New York recently.

“My first thought was somebody forgot it,” Stahl said. When he called the front desk to report it had been lost, a staff member told him it was for concierge service. “It was pretty neat,” Stahl said. “It was convenient.”

Almost two years ago, the Chancellor Hotel on Union Square in San Francisco collaborated with Amaratech, a Bay Area hotel technology company, to create its own app that guests can use before and during their stay to request an early check-in, a late checkout, search for a nearby restaurant or order valet service. “With technology, guests are doing everything by themselves,” said Nathaniel Ramos, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing.

At the Ocean House in Watch Hill, R.I., guests can use free iPads as well a “virtual fitness” machine in the OH! Spa. On a touch-screen machine the size of a bank’s ATM, they can select fitness classes like spinning and Zumba at any hour of the day. Once they have made their choice, a large screen descends from the ceiling, and a virtual instructor appears.

Anticipating needs

Independent hotels, hotel groups and brands are responding to what they perceive their guests want or will want, which is the challenge. Technology is not just one thing. It is a combination of services and gadgets that travelers feel they want and need to have. “They’re used to being connected and linked in wherever they are,” said Lindsey Ueberroth, president of the Preferred Hotel Group, a collection of more than 650 independent luxury hotels.

The No. 1 thing travelers want, she said, is high-speed Internet access and enough bandwidth to download videos, social media and music as well as to access email and attachments.

“It’s anticipating a guest’s needs,” she said. “It builds loyalty.”

According to a 2011 Concur/Global Business Travel Association study, 91 percent of business travelers use a laptop computer, 81 percent use wireless broadband, 73 percent use a personal smartphone, 67 percent use mobile travel apps on their phone, 63 percent use an iPod or other MP3 player and 62 percent use a business smartphone. Technology experts say the numbers have continued to grow.

For hotels, one of the largest investments can be adequate bandwidth.

“It’s the idea of having services at your fingertips, literally,” said Phil Schwartz, chief marketing officer of Intelity Corp., a software company in Orlando, Fla., that focuses on the hospitality industry. “It’s about content, convenience and control.”

Cutting-edge amenities

Intelity, which has been in business for five years, employs software called ICE, Interactive Customer Experience, that is customized for hotel apps. It has reached almost 500 hotels internationally, he said.

The software allows hotel guests to interact digitally with the hotel through their phone, tablet or laptop on 35 different services, ranging from setting the time for a wake-up call to requesting a toothbrush from housekeeping. The most popular requests for a customized hotel app are wake-up calls, in-room dining and turndown service, Schwartz said.

Consumers are moving from a 12-inch screen on their desktop to a 9-inch one on their tablet to a 4-inch one on their smartphone, said John Hach, senior vice president for global product management at TravelClick, a hotel service provider in New York. “They’re using a browser and not always an app,” he noted. Hach said that hotels with optimized websites were capturing 10 percent or more of their reservations from mobile devices.

Technology can be a marketing tool. “Being cutting edge, you stay in the eye of the consumer,” said Ramos. “You don’t want to be left behind.”

New business model of hotel chain

By Joo Young-min

Korea has long been plagued with a lack of quality, affordably priced hotel rooms, particularly outside Seoul. In response to growing tourism demand, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) has launched “Benikea,” standing for “Best Night in Korea.” This new association of hotels brings quality accommodation with franchise-level consistency to budget conscious travelers.

Acutely aware of the mounting number of tourists and the shortage of hotel rooms, the KTO and Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism conducted a hotel feasibility study in 2005 to improve the accommodation infrastructure.

The following year, KTO initiated a pilot project with the Industry-University Cooperation Foundation of Hanyang University.

The project established a foundation for the mid-tier hotel business in May 2009 and four months later, Benikea, the first mid-tier Korean hotel brand, was launched with a multi-language online reservation system.

The KTO does not operate the hotels per se. Rather, it provides support services and consulting to help hotels achieve and maintain its standards of excellence.

Getting under the Benikea umbrella is difficult. Even a high-class hotel has to go through a rigorous checklist to be included. The attitude of hotel managers, conditions of rooms, service quality and a host of other factors are evaluated.

A hotel that completely meets all the standards becomes a full member, a Benikea chain hotel. It receives the entire package of the KTO’s support services and may also use Benikea in its official name, a marketing plus as brand recognition of Benikea is climbing steadily among travelers.

When Benikea was launched, there were six Benikea chain hotels and 33 associates. By May 2012, 49 out of the nation’s 680 hotels were under the Benikea umbrella, including 20 with member status. In January 2010, brand recognition was 4.7 percent and in December 2011 it had reached 17.3 percent, putting it 13th among the 21 hotel groups in Korea.

Hotels under the Benikea umbrella are found in all parts of Korea, including Gyeonggi Province, Gangwon Province, Incheon, Daegu, Jeju, and Seoul, making themselves easily accessible to tourists. Two-thirds of the hotels are outside of Seoul, which helps promote tourism in those areas.

In addition, reservation and sales performance via the Benikea website have grown steadily. The website is in Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese and each Benikea hotel only dedicates a portion of its rooms to the Benikea reservation system. In 2011, about 12,000 rooms were booked at Benikea hotels. Aggregated sales between 2009 and 2011 were 920 million won, of which 540 million won was in 2011.

Success factors

A hotel in the Benikea chain receives a broad range of support to boost revenue. The services include market analysis and marketing strategies to bolster competitiveness; loans from the government’s tourism promotion fund; supplies at lower prices through bulk buying by Benikea hotels; and money to make signboards.

To improve brand value and increase reservations, television subtitles, radio broadcasting, outdoor advertising, online banners and search advertising are used in the domestic market while travel magazines, online banners and search advertising are aimed at foreign travelers.

To encourage reservations on the Benikea website, Benikea frequently offers special online deals to Korean and foreign individuals. In addition, it has provided familiarization (FAM) tours to foreign journalists and employees of travel agencies and used exhibitions at home and abroad as a chance to inform customers of Benikea.

Systematic training of all employees regardless of rank is also conducted twice a year and optional courses are also available. The training is customized for each Benikea member and associate hotel.

Hotel evaluation was conducted based on disguised visits in which inspectors check-in as guests; customer feedback; the percentage of rooms allotted to the Benikea online reservation system and training participation. On the latter, a hotel gets extra credit for participation in optional training.


Benikea developed a brand standard for facilities and management of chain hotels in September 2011. The facility standard defines the best floor layouts for optimum service and efficiency, based on how employees and guests move around in parts of hotels. Management standards encompass organization operations, room management, housekeeping, restaurant and coffee shop management, general management and sales marketing.

In April 2012, the first Benikea hotel that became subject to its brand standard opened in Yeosu, South Jeolla Province. In June 2012, groundbreaking for a new type of Benikea hotel was planned in Haeundae, Busan. Benikea Hotel Busan, or Marianne Hotel, will be completely constructed in December 2013.

Benikea provides lessons to Korean hotels on how to respond to global chains that dominate Korea’s mid-tier hotel segment. While it is difficult for individual hotels to thoroughly manage all areas of guest services, Benikea has shown that joining an alliance of local cohorts is a potential solution.

In an environment where there is no large conglomerate specializing in the hotel business, Benikea has been managed with state budgets of 2 billion won a year. However, it cannot depend on state budgets forever.

The initial plan was to bind operating hotels under the Benikea brand and raise competitiveness by providing standardized services and reservation systems and then collecting various tariffs, including an affiliation fee, which would be half the standard rate of foreign hotels.

Benikea has yet to establish a revenue structure, because it decided not to collect affiliation fees when the business was transferred to the KTO in 2009.

For successful privatization in 2013, Benikea should establish a business model and secure sustainability as early as possible. It should seek ways to provide the benefits of affiliation to affiliated hotels. In that sense, Benikea’s initiation to develop products in link with Benikea and nearby tourist attractions partnering with five major inbound travel agencies — Korean Tour, Lotte Tour, Global Tour, Hannara Travel and Hanjin Travel — in April 2012 is very encouraging.

The writer is a research fellow at Samsung Economic Research Institute (SERI) with expertise in tourism economics and policy and regional development. SERI provided this article to Business Focus.

Bespoke Hotels opens its doors to mid-market independents

Bespoke Hotels opens its doors to mid-market independents


Category: Hotels

Written by Callum Gildart

Bespoke Hotels this week launched a sales and marketing division for independent mid-market hotels to rival the current services offered to them by international brands and consortiums.

The move follows on from what Bespoke Hotels describes as an “influx” of independent mid-market hotels wishing to join the group to raise their profile in the current financial climate.

Bespoke Hotels aims to provide affordable sales and marketing representation to hotels across the UK and internationally, and act as an alternative to qualifying criteria of international brands and consortiums.

Chairman of Bespoke Hotels Robin Sheppard said: “We have seen an increase in the number of mid-market hotels seeking both old-fashioned sales effort and contemporary, internet led, marketing representation from Bespoke Hotels, particularly as they attempt to raise their profile in the midst of an economic downturn. Bespoke will develop as a hotel brand for independent hoteliers who want to operate their hotel their way, without having to conform too rigidly to brand standards.”

Proprietor of Cantley House, one of the first hotels taken on by the company, Maurice Monk remarked: “I chose to work with Bespoke because I had specific gaps in certain market segments. They listened to me and they customised a plan to suit me. They weren’t offering a one-size-fits-all panacea but they have worked with me in an accurately targeted way.”

Non-executive director of Bespoke Hotels David Clarke added: “We have learnt that many hotels have not joined an organisation because they fear being placed in a strait jacket that affects their ability to run the hotel the way they want. The Bespoke approach is very different. After agreeing that the hotel fits the collection, Bespoke tailors a set of services and distribution channels that give the most cost effective impact. The hotelier decides what is right for their business.”

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Sector reacts to Expedia’s new agency model

REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Buzz is growing over Expedia’s new payment model and its potential impact on the hotel industry. While many questions remain unanswered, the Expedia Traveler Preference program could place the relationship between hotels and online travel agencies under an even more intense microscope.

Expedia Traveler Preference is a “preliminary program” Expedia has begun promoting to the industry through its market managers. According to Senior VP of Global Strategic Accounts Melissa Maher, the new technology essentially will allow travelers to choose whether to pay Expedia at the time of booking on the site (and Expedia will pay the hotel) or travelers can pay upon checkout (and the hotel would pay Expedia post stay).

During Expedia’s second-quarter earnings call on 26 July, President and CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said, “If and when rolled out on a broad basis, (the program) would be likely to drive back the growth in our agency hotel business, which could result in blended hotel margins as well as our merchant hotel flow trending down over time.”

“As we introduce further innovation into the global hotel business, you would expect the current bright line between agency model and the merchant model to blur over time,” he said. Khosrowshahi said the program is expected to be fully implemented by the end of the year.

The model is similar to what competitor Priceline Group offers via Travelers reserve a room on with a no-fee cancellation policy and then pay the hotel upon arrival. Expedia’s first foray into an agency model was with the purchase of in 2008, which has allowed the company to test its success overseas.

Maher said hotels that already have signed up to participate in the program include chains Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International, Melia Hotels International, Iberostar Hotels Resorts, La Quinta Inns Suites, as well as “many independent hotels.”

Flo Lugli, executive VP of marketing at Wyndham Worldwide, said in an email Wyndham “welcomes discussions around new opportunities and models that can drive additional value to our franchisees/owners, and we look forward to understanding from Expedia how they view this program can do just that.”

A Marriott spokeswoman declined comment while Hilton, Melia and La Quinta did not return requests for comment by press time.

“The reaction from our hotel partners has been very positive,” Maher said. “We have several of the leading brands already signed up to participate because they believe that this helps meet a consumer demand and therefore will capture incremental customers for their properties.”

Hoteliers weigh in
But some hoteliers remain skeptical, particularly surrounding the model’s commission structure and cancellation fees.

Commissions paid to Expedia by a hotel will be the same whether the traveler pays at time of booking or when he or she arrives at the hotel, Maher said.

“The main issue with the ETP program is Expedia applying a merchant commission to an agency model,” said Max Starkov, president and CEO at Hospitality eBusiness Strategies. “The merchant commission is by default a wholesale commission, and collecting payments from the customer is part of the deal.”

Jennifer Rota, GM at the Distrikt Hotel in New York City, said if travelers choose to pay at the property, hotels will report to data trackers and franchisors a gross rate instead of a net rate (after commission). She predicted reported average daily rate at hotels could go up 20% overnight.

While Expedia sees this as a positive—Maher said, “ETP essentially allows hotels to improve their reported ADR and (revenue per available room)”—Rota points out franchisees will in turn be paying higher franchise and management fees because those fees are revenue-based, and revenues are likely to be higher if a gross rate is paid by the consumer.

Jan Freitag, senior VP of global development for STR, said the impact on hotels’ reported metrics will be case by case as some hotels—particularly resorts and independent hotels—rely more on third-party demand than others. The impact on STR and the industry average “will be negligible,” he said, pointing to the fact that OTAs drive only 8% to 9% of overall demand. STR is the parent company of

Also, Maher said Expedia will adopt the partner hotel’s cancellation policy.

“If there’s no additional discount given to the guest to use the prepay model, would you?” Rota said. “The amount of cancellations is going to go up.

“To me it weakens Expedia on the hotel side,” she continued. “Before you would say, ‘I’m taking a hit on my ADR but it’s a guaranteed reservation because so few people cancel on Expedia.’ Now, the flipside is they can cancel every time. It will increase the amount of people who don’t even bother to cancel because they’ve given you a credit card you can’t charge.”

Rota said she is considering suggesting a 48-hour cancellation policy in general at her hotel so she has a two-day lead time to better prepare for additional cancellations.

Expedia Traveler Preference also could create additional on-property headaches, Rota said. Collecting payment on property requires extra effort, resources and many times comes along with extra fees. Also, front-desk clerks will inevitably deal with more guests who arrive and are confused about when they paid or claim they’ve already paid when in fact they haven’t, she said.

Bottom line
Maher said ETP will drive additional demand to hotels because it enables hotels to reach a wider audience of travelers, namely a broader scope of international travelers who are most familiar with the post-pay method.

“People try to avoid pre-paying, especially if it’s under rate parity,” said Robert Cole, consultant and founder of hotel marketing firm RockCheetah. “Free cancellation fees—the U.S. market will love it.”

“There are certain consumers who like to buy merchant, they like to pay upfront, they want to pay in their local currency, they don’t want to leave their credit card with a small hotel at the front desk, etc. And there are some consumers who do like to pay at the hotel,” Khosrowshahi said during Expedia’s earnings call. “We think that giving consumers the flexibility to choose is a good thing.”

However, that additional demand will come with a price, Cole said, as it might take demand away from and on-property bookings. Until now, many travelers have avoided third-party sites and booked directly with because they were leery about paying upfront, he said.

Most popular customer incentive from hotels: Discount rates

What are the marketing gimmicks most widely used by hotel operators to lure guests?
Room discounts, followed by free Wi-Fi and other amenities.

A survey of more than 25,000 hotel owners and managers in North America by the travel website TripAdvisor found that discounted rooms were offered by 58% of the U.S. hotels surveyed. It was 63% in Mexico and 53% in Canada.

“Regionally, it seems that the industry tends to use some of the same methods of attracting travelers,” said Kevin Carter, a spokesman for TripAdvisor.

The next most popular incentive was “special amenities,” as the survey put it, naming free Wi-Fi as an example. In the U.S., 44% of hotels offered the no-cost amenities to guests. Perhaps the most alluring promotion for travelers is a free night’s stay — only 14% of hotels in the U.S. offered that, though it was 34% in Canada.

Other incentives offered by U.S. hotels included free parking (31%) and free newspapers (20%).


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Hotel Specials and Offers: Top Tips For Successful Setup And Sales.

All hotels have the generic romance package and Stay For Breakfast special, but are your hotel’s specials and offers elevating your property and setting yourself apart from the rest?

Not only can hoteliers use specials and packages to capture the local flavor and personality of the market, but they can also use offers to target the hotel’s specific goals, strengths, weaknesses and needs.

Know Your Traveler

Does your hotel naturally attract business travelers, leisure travelers, or a pretty even balance of both? Do you tend to have families or more couples looking to get away? Knowing your traveler profile will help define weak spots, allowing you to better craft your offers.

What does your traveler want?
If your top feeder markets are all within driving distance, there is a good chance your visitors would be interested and thankful for complimentary parking. Trying to obtain more business visitors? Make sure that your Business Package, complete with complimentary wireless internet and shuttle service, is easily visible on your site.

For leisure travelers, dig a bit deeper. Are your leisure travelers families or couples? Couples may be intrigued by happy hour vouchers at the bar, while families are more interested in a Kids Eat Free promotion or something to do around the city, like museum tickets for four. However, think honestly about what your travelers want; a package thrown together without much thought will look out of place and won’t sell successfully anyway. Look at your onsite amenities, local opportunities, and business partnerships to create packages that will actually sell and not just take up space on your Specials and Offers page.

Building relationships with travelers
If you are determining what your travelers truly want, it sounds like you are trying to build relationships with your travelers that will translate online and off! Certain specials should be designed to foster relationships with long-term stays and recurring travelers. If you are an airport hotel, or located near the airport, take advantage of the recurring business of airline personnel stays. Is your hotel all-suite with full-size kitchens?

Be sure to target extended stay visitors and people in the process of relocation with extended stay specials. With a longer length of stay, your hotel not only has the opportunity to generate some good revenue, but your staff also has the chance to wow your guest repeatedly during his or her stay. These two examples are situations where value-add packages aren’t necessary, but having the special rate available opens up a great opportunity for building relationships for repeat and long-term customers.

Know Your Goals

While it is important to have specials beyond the generic romance package, adding specials just to have them on your site won’t do much for your hotel. What are your actual needs, and what goals do you hope to meet?

Occupancy issues
If you need to fill rooms but cannot discount BAR, you can still fashion a package that promotes the savings that your visitors will receive. Try a Free of Fees package. Valet parking and wireless internet can cost upwards of $50 these days, so offer a package to save your guests from all those fees that can really add up. A hotel credit can work the same way. Book one night and receive a $25 credit to be used at the hotel spa, restaurant, or bar? This not only generates more revenue within different departments of your property, but it also translates to guests as free credit that will help contribute to their vacation.

The Sunday struggle
Sundays can be slow at hotels, but that doesn’t mean that your property has to stay dead at the end of the weekend. Encourage guests to stay until Sunday with length-of-stay specials. For example, if guests stay Friday and Saturday, perhaps they receive Sunday’s stay at a nicely discounted rate. You can even tie in something seasonal or local. This year is Comic-Con’s 43rd annual convention in San Diego. If your San Diego property is trying to build longer lengths of stay, you could build a special that was “Book Friday and Saturday, Stay Sunday for $43 To Honor the 43rd Annual Comic-Con.” This can easily translate to all days of the week if you are trying to improve your length of stay in general as well.

To target Sundays, hotels can also try Sunday Staycations. Sunday may be empty at your hotel as visitors drive and fly back home, but why not attract the people who are already in your city. Staycations are growing in popularity since traveling can be expensive, and what is better than escaping from the normal Sunday routine of getting ready for the new week? Extend the weekend for locals with an ultimate Sunday Staycation, complete with dinner, spa credit, and anything else that would scream “escape” before the case-of-the-Mondays hits.

Inventory push
Does your Presidential Suite never sell? Create a package that is specific to your actual inventory weakness. By creating a focused package you can shape a special to sell the inventory that you truly need to sell. Tiered specials can work effectively in this instance as well.

For example, create specific booking windows for your new Presidential Suite Special with particular discounts for each window. If a visitor books six weeks in advance, the discount is 30% off; one month prior gets a 20% discount; and lastly, two weeks prior only receives a 10% discount.

Selling Your Specials

Now that you have your offers all packaged up for success, now you need to actually sell them! While you can definitely market your specials and offline with on-property flyers, QR codes, and attractive hotel collateral, having a strong online presence with high visibility to your specials page is key.

Brand website, of course!
You do not want to take the time to create awesome packages and not upload them to the brand site and invalidate the Best Rate Guarantee. Make sure that your specials are easily visible on your official Brand website, both on your Specials page and in the Reservation system. If your brand site allows you to add banner ads, use some visually-captivating and relevant photography to create an ad to promote a specific offer.

OTAs, third parties and other relevant sites
Having listings on OTAs and other third party websites is crucial for having a strong online presence, so making your specials and offers present and visible on these channels is very important. Work with your hotel’s online marketing managers to highlight your seasonal or local packages, and showcase your business-driven specials on business travel-targeted sites like CVENT and HotelPlanner.

With a TripAdvisor Business Listing, you can not only highlight a specific special, but also have a link to your brand site Specials and Offers page. In addition, it is important to utilize relevant sites and blogs that will find your specials interesting and beneficial to their visitors and readership. These sites and blogs will bring you quality visitors to your booking channel, so market towards your specific demographic or profile for which your specials are targeted.

Reach out to the local CVB site to see if they have extra exposure opportunities, and build relationships for niche partnerships. If you are building your pet-friendly special, search for pet-friendly travel sites that would be interested in linking back to you. Not only will it give you the extra exposure, but it will also provide some link building opportunities. Plus, you can always use your social media channels to promote your new and exciting packages.

Making Your Specials Special

By addressing your hotel needs and goals, shaping offers around them, and marketing them effectively across your online channels, you can get your visitors intrigued by the interesting things you’re doing on property. Use these guidelines to help your hotel build successful promotions, thereby increasing exposure for your hotel and ultimately its occupancy and revenue!

As an Online Marketing Manager at Blue Magnet Interactive, Katharyn Molinaro specializes in online marketing strategies for the hospitality industry and is rapidly and avidly seeing to it that more people spend nights in her clients’ hotels instead of the competitors’. She has an earnestness for all things online marketing and media related, and a simultaneous passion for the realm of travel. Upon graduating from UC Berkeley in 2010, Katharyn began her marketing career at a boutique full-service advertising agency in San Clemente, CA before moving to Chicago to become a member of the Blue Magnet team. In her free time, Katharyn enjoys fine wine-ing and dining, planning events, and single-handedly giving Blue Magnet Interactive office-wide Type 2 Diabetes through various culinary delights.

Katharyn can be reached at:
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