Planning for Hotel Budget Season in Preparation for 2018

The summer is hardly even over and the dreaded budget season is upon us again! While it might seem a bit too early to formulate the actual budget there’s no harm in getting into the mindset of budget planning – or so a recent article on thinks! And you know, we have to agree, there is nothing worse than last minute stressing scrambling to finalize your numbers; to at least start thinking about your budget helps to avoid any potential headaches when your deadline approaches.

Next month HeBS Digital are due to publish its annual Smart Hoteliers’ Guide to Budgeting for 2018. Now in its 12th year, the popular guide provides hotel marketers with a blueprint on where, what, and how for driving the direct online channel.

While we have to wait a small bit longer to get a copy we can hypothesis on what we should be focusing on for the year ahead.

Direct booking strategy is key: This is not a new idea and likely one that will remain on the budget-planning list for some time. Hoteliers are still not optimizing their distribution channel mix, and are continuously over dependent on the OTAs . With the continuous competitive threat posed by industry players like Expedia, the Priceline group and Airbnb, hotels need to invest more in marketing campaigns that encourage customers to “book direct” in order to improve the bottom line and lower distribution costs.

Personalization is expected: Travellers have come to expect an increasingly personalized hotel stay – whether its personalization around a set of choices they make at the time of booking or prior to arrival, customised promotions or onsite engagement, personalization is expected. There is a continuous rising demand for personalized experiences, authenticity, removal of friction, and on-demand functionality. Hotels that can meet guest demands by delivering relevant tailored and timely interactions will forge partnerships that will enrich their customer relationships before, during and after their stay, increase engagement and conversions and ultimately win greater loyalty.

Think: Guest centric marketing, mobile, data, analytics, security.

Reaching consumers across devices: Mobile technology has become seamlessly integrated into our digital lives and switching between devices to access information on the move has become commonplace. According to Google, 90% of people are “cross-device” Internet browsers and researchers, using multiple devices sequentially (moving from one device to another at different times) with more time now spent on mobile devices than on laptops. Investing in mobile marketing is no longer an option but essential. “Those that can master a mobile-first, cross-device strategy and reduce consumers’ time spent “getting there” will reap the benefits of happy travellers, wherever their final destination may be.” Daniele Beccari, Criteo.

Think: Responsive/adaptive design, quick-loading mobile pages, notification alerts, local SEM, time and location-based offers

There’s always plenty to consider before you start formulating your budget, and while all the above is important and shouldn’t be ignored, the best budget strategy is to begin by focusing on what is driving your largest amount of conversions right now. Take a step back and evaluate this year’s performance and reflect on what brought you the most success in 2017. Review the trends, markets, promotions and tactics that produced the most revenue, drove the most bookings and highest profits.

Once we get our copy of HeBS Digital’s Smart Hoteliers’ Guide to Budgeting for 2018 we’ll revisit the topic in a couple of weeks to see if our assumptions for 2018 are anyway close and to see how your spreadsheets are coming along!

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