The way that website users interact with content is changing post-COVID, the personalization and offers that worked before are likely to be quite different to what your potential guests are responding to now.
Hotels now need to assess developments in the travel landscape and adapt their customer communications faster than ever before.
We’ve looked at customer interactions with messages from across our global hotel database to analyze what’s changed and pinpoint which types of content, targeting and message delivery are now proving most effective.
1. Guests seem less interested in promotions
Historically, website messages that provided customers with a promotion or discount have been by far the most successful content in terms of conversions. We previously found that any message containing the words ‘additional’, ‘promotion’, ‘discount’, ‘discounts’, ‘saving’, ‘promocode’ or ‘promo code’ would perform at least twice as well as other messages.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a sharp decline in the performance of promotional content in messages. It’s important to remember that conversion rates across all messages have dropped as a result of temporary hotel closures and widespread uncertainty about travel. This doesn’t mean that promotions and offers have no place in your strategy to bring customers back - just that right now there are other factors that might matter to your customers more.
In fact, one theme that has remained strong in the face of the pandemic has been promotions related to transport - that’s categorized as messages containing the words ‘airport’, ‘parking’, ‘shuttle’, ‘transfer’ or ‘valet’. This implies that customers who are currently booking hotel stays are more concerned with knowing that they can arrive there safely than they are with more traditional incentives like discounted rates or food and beverage offers.
2. Mobile messages drive higher engagement
Since launching mobile Nudge Messages earlier this month, we’re already seeing that website visitors are 2% more likely to click the call to action button on mobile than on the desktop equivalent. This, coupled with the trend we’re continuing to see for the resilience of the mobile channel in the face of COVID-19, means that now is definitely the time to begin investing in your mobile experience if you’re not doing so already.
Since the launch, over 45% of hotels who have logged into the Triptease platform have updated their device targeting to ensure that their messages can also display on mobile. This is a clear indication of the appetite to personalize and improve the customer experience on mobile, and to capitalize on the increased traffic and demand that exists there.
If you’re concerned about your mobile experience and looking for ways to improve, get in touch with the Triptease team to hear more about our renewed focus on this important part of the direct booking journey. Our Express mobile experience is designed to capture mobile booking demand with a continuously optimizing, bespoke mobile experience that works seamlessly on top of your booking engine. This best-in-class mobile experience was previously available only for customers using Triptease Meta but can now be used for all your mobile traffic.
3. Hotel cleanliness is a key message that guests want to see
In our analysis, hotel cleanliness content was defined as having any of the keywords ‘clean’, ‘wash’, ‘sterile’, ‘WHO’, ‘hygiene’ or ‘sanitiser’ within the message. There were no messages containing any of these words pre-COVID. Since the pandemic hit there are now over 1,200 containing cleanliness wording.
While the conversion rate for messages that share information about cleanliness is no higher than for any other type of message content, it’s interesting to note that the click through rate is more than 2% higher. So while a cleanliness message is not necessarily the strongest message for securing a booking, it’s clear that customers are looking for reassurance around hotel hygiene as part of their purchase journey.
Digging further into the data on cleanliness content, it seems that the amount of information you include in a message could have a real impact on its success. With the number of cleanliness messages still being relatively low in comparison to other types of message, it was important that we took a deeper dive into these results to ensure that no single message was swaying the overall performance.
After filtering out messages with less than 200 impressions, we found three messages with significantly higher click through rates, and a common theme across them. All the messages either guide customers to where they can read in-depth hotel cleaning and safety information, or contained extremely specific detail about it within the message.
The higher than average click through rate can likely be explained by the fact that in two instances, the call to action buttons of ‘Got it’ and ‘Thank you’ are being used simply to acknowledge that the message has been read, with the customer remaining on the same page after they’ve clicked it. So while this type of content may not directly result in a conversion for your hotel, you can at least be sure that you have provided the reassurance many guests are now looking for before committing to book a stay.
The third example has a call to action that actually takes customers through to their booking engine, and has a resulting conversion rate of over 6%. With message targeting set up to display to customers searching for week night check-in dates and messaging focused on the fact that some travel is essential, it looks like this hotel understood that there were still business travel bookings being made in their location. As a result they made sure that those travellers knew that they would have a safe experience at their hotel. So if there’s a specific audience type you know still has reason to travel to your hotel, make sure you present them with all the reassurance they need to make their booking.
4. Location targeting captures bookings in relevant open markets
With travel restrictions easing in some countries and travel corridors allowing international tourism to cautiously return, targeting your content by guest location is key to ensuring your messages reach the right customers, and have real impact for your hotel.
In recent weeks we’ve seen an increase in the use of city and region targeting to encourage local customers to take a staycation. Examples below include Inn at Laurel Point who are offering a special offer to residents of British Columbia, and Virgin Hotels targeting Tennessee residents with their ‘Music City Stay-cation’ deal.
In parts of the world where international travel is possible, it also makes sense to target nearby open markets as well as countries that you know are likely customers for your hotel. BYD Lofts in Thailand is doing the latter with this offer that displays to potential Russian customers. Similar messages could also be set up to target neighbouring open countries where there will likely be an appetite for short trips to nearby tourist destinations.
We hope these insights are helpful when renewing your website content and implementing new campaigns to boost your direct bookings. We’d love to hear about your current strategy, how you’re using the Triptease product at your hotel and what else we could be doing to help you.
Holly Groom is a Lead Product Marketing Manager at Triptease