Posts Tagged ‘Average Daily Rate’
I am writing this from the Travel Industry Association’s “Marketing Outlook Forum,” in Charlotte, North Carolina. By time you read this, the event will have adjourned over a week ago. Convened here are some of the top brass and opinion leaders in the United States travel industry. What’s the message here? Things are changing, and changing fast…so you better be ready! I have a duty, which I take very seriously, to absorb as much of the information on performance and trends as one man can absorb, and filter for innkeepers what I believe are the most relevant facts and opinions that will impact our industry.Here is some of what I heard at the Marketing Outlook Forum, which I believe to be pretty relevant to innkeepers.
“Consumers trust each other more than they trust you (marketers).” Geoff Ramsey, CEO of eMarketer
This was mentioned in the context of reviews that consumers are increasingly posting online after their stay at hotels, resorts, B&Bs, etc. In fact, research shown at the TIA meeting indicates that consumers trust anonymous peer reviews more than professional travel journalists! If you doubt the popularity and acceptance of this form of consumer-generated content (CGC), click here. If you know how popular this television show is, then you’ll understand. My message to innkeepers? Embrace this, embrace this, embrace this. If your listing on BedandBreakfast.com, TripAdvisor, Google, etc., does not have any user reviews, or an unfortunate few, then it is more likely that potential customers will pass on making a reservation with you. In fact, BedandBreakfast.com is reporting that properties with online user reviews are getting double the traffic that comparable properties that don’t have reviews are. As you can see, I’m not the first, nor the only, advocate of embracing online reviews. Do your very best to encourage your guests to leave reviews on any and all sites that are garnering attention and used by the traveling public. We will be discussing this at great length at the 2008 PAII Conference & Trade Show. When registration opens, I highly encourage you to come take part in the conversation.
“Consumers feel the most important travel web site features are: 90%—able to check fares…81%— easy-to-use booking feature…71%—photos of rooms.” Peter Yesawich, CEO of Ypartnership
Whether we like it or not, the Internet has created a level playing field for all types of lodging, so consumers are expecting all types of lodging to have these features. Here’s how I think their findings and messages apply to innkeeping. If you have the ability—whether through your own web tools or by using third-party reservation systems—to list the exact price of your rooms, rather than price ranges, you should. A visitor to your web site should be able to pick a night, pick a room (if your room prices vary) and see the exact pricing. Also, to meet the needs of consumers who want “easy-to-use booking features” (the second most important feature), I advise innkeepers, who don’t already have it, to consider adding real-time reservations to your website. I am concerned for the properties that require guests to get in touch with you personally as part of the booking process. I know many innkeepers like to weed out their prospective customers through conversations over phone or email, as well as set expectations for their visit. I am not suggesting you should replace phone and email with real-time reservations, just make sure it’s part of the mix. I venture to guess that innkeepers who still use email forms exclusively and have to get back to prospective customers are losing business—possibly losing more business than it’s worth to screen out the occasional bad apple. If a potential customer is doing her travel research and reservations at 11 pm at night, and she wants to close the loop on the romantic vacation she’s trying to book, those sites which allow her to make the reservation and receive an instantaneous confirmation will win the day. And for the inns whose “bread and butter” are minimum-night stays, require your technology provider to include this element in the booking process. Research by Babson College reveals that visitors to travel sites will abandon their online search efforts if they have to wait more than four seconds for information to load. If someone has to wait a few hours (or longer) for a response from an innkeeper about their reservation request, they very well might move on to real-time reservations in the time they’re waiting to hear back. The sooner you can capture and confirm a reservation, the less likely you are to lose the customer to another inn (or even a hotel) while they wait to hear back from you. Regarding photos of rooms, here’s where innkeepers are leading the way. Since each room is likely to offer a unique experience, it’s essential to have high resolution, up-to-date photos of your rooms. If you don’t have photos of rooms, then visitors to your site may think you have something to hide. Show off your property! You’ve worked hard on it, and it’s what makes your inn special.
“Average Daily Rate (ADR) for the hotel industry is $103.63 in 2007.” Duane Vinson, Vice President at Smith Travel Research
In 2006, ADR for the lodging industry was $97. Smith Travel’s findings are showing rates are up. The recent PAII study of B&B and country inns showed ADR for our industry was $166 in 2006. That was $93 ahead of hotels. I’m wondering how 2007 has been for our industry. Smith Travel also reported that a night’s stay in Oahu, Hawaii, is averaging $168 – second only to New York, New York ($241). That means our AVERAGE member is on par with lodging in the 2nd most expensive market in the entire country. As the hotel industry works to stay ahead of the curve, which sometimes includes stealing from the innkeeper playbook (i.e. investing in luxurious linens, increasing the quality of “free” breakfasts), what are innkeepers doing to maintain the gap? Why is that important to me? I’m not suggesting the B&B market should maintain high prices for the sake of having high prices (that would actually be unlawful). But, the $69 gap in ADR in 2006, to me, demonstrates that travelers view the B&B experience as premium. If the gap closes, that means the consumer perception of value of the typical hotel and the typical B&B are getting to be similar. Innkeepers have been offering unique lodging and hospitality experiences for years. Ask yourselves—what am I doing to maintain the premium experience (from booking to staying to checking out to reviewing) that warrants a premium price? If innkeepers want to maintain premium status in hospitality and lodging, we have to continue offering an experience you just can’t get in the hotel market.
Tags: Average Daily Rate, Online Reviews, Research, Trends
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