To help hoteliers navigate post covid-19, we met Sandra Moore Director, Enterprise Sales, OTA’s & Hotels EMEA at Tripadvisor. We asked her to answer 6 questions about Tripadvisor’s engagements to help hoteliers on the road to recovery.
How did it go at Tripadvisor during COVID-19 crisis? Did it impact Tripadvisor’s business?
Like every business in the travel industry, of course we have been impacted by the pandemic, so what we have tried to do during this period is focus on how we can support our clients and partners in the hospitality sector as much as possible, and also how we can showcase the information and guidance that travel consumers are looking for in order to feel confident about travelling again. And those two aims are really connected – if we do a good job of providing consumers with the information and reassurance they need, then ultimately it is the industry that will benefit as consumer confidence grows.
Can you please tell us what the current travel intentions and demands are on the platform? Where do travelers want to go?
Yes, this is something we have been watching very closely. In June this year, we released a special whitepaper report looking at consumer trends and attitudes towards travel and how they have been impacted by COVID-19 and of course we have continued to observe and report back to the industry and our partners on those trends as they have evolved.
One of the benefits of being the world’s largest travel planning platform is that we can very quickly identify shifts in consumer behaviour based on our site traffic, and that has helped us arm our partners with tangible, fresh data and insights that they can use to reassess their marketing strategies at speed. We’ve coupled that with consumer research to get a deeper understanding of how attitudes towards travel have changed, and what that means for our partners.
What we have learned is that travel planning trends have shifted in five distinct stages – which we are calling the five stages to recovery. First there were the Decline and Plateau stages, as travel demand dropped off and leveled out as strict travel restrictions were imposed by governments all over the world. Then, as restrictions began to ease, we saw the Emerge stage of recovery, followed by the Domestic stage of recovery, and then finally the International stage of recovery, which we are moving towards.
We also know from research that consumers do want to travel again. The travel mindset remains very resilient. In markets where travel restrictions have eased, travel demand is bouncing back quickly. But what is also interesting is how some travel habits have changed, even for those who are venturing out again. For example, we have seen an increase in road trip planning, often to areas where there are fewer crowds, like beaches and nature retreats. Even the types of properties that travellers are searching for has changed – with campgrounds and farmhouses recovering the fastest.
We go into a lot more detail about these trends in our webinar series we have been hosting for partners, which I would definitely encourage hoteliers to check out – all of the insights and information are available for free at https://www.tripadvisor.com/TripAdvisorInsights/w5933.
Today, how can Tripadvisor help hoteliers sell their rooms better? Is there a different way to sell rooms if you are a hotel or a hotel chain?
We know it has been a hugely challenging time for many operators. On the one hand, hoteliers face extra pressure to adjust to new customer expectations, particularly around practices like hygiene and cleanliness, while at the same time they need to find ways to generate the levels of revenue needed to compensate for a loss in trading. Maximising revenue per guest is more important than ever, and one of the best ways hotels can do that is by increasing direct bookings.
At Tripadvisor, we have a number of tools that hoteliers can use to drive direct bookings that should be an important part of every hotelier’s strategy as they navigate this pandemic.
For example, we’ve made a number of enhancements to our Sponsored Placements solution to convert increased visibility into direct bookings. Hotels can now showcase direct rates exclusively in their ad units so that the only rate the traveller sees is the one driving to their own booking channel. In addition, the ad units – which appear at the top of traveller search results when they select dates and criteria that match that hotel’s availability – can populate a link to their safety measures as well. We have also introduced automatic tools that adjust campaigns in light of COVID-19, which means travellers from countries that are restricted from visiting a hotel’s location won’t be served their ads. This helps to safeguard a hotel’s campaign spend.
By utilising solutions like this, a hotel’s marketing spend can serve two purposes – making their business discoverable to a new set of customers, while also enhancing their ability to drive direct bookings.
Can you share with us the destination’s trends searches by market/destination?
The picture looks different depending on where you are in the world – not all markets or regions are recovering at the same pace.
Right now, in many major markets particularly in Europe and some US states, we are in the Domestic stage, which means we are seeing a sustained uptick in domestic travel demand.
We also know the path to recovery is not linear – there will be bumps and dips in the road ahead, especially where further waves of infections occur and restrictions are reintroduced. We’ve already seen that in the US and parts of APAC, and in recent weeks we’ve seen that in some parts of Europe too.
But the overall trend line, especially in Europe, is positive and upward. In fact, for several weeks this summer we have actually seen domestic travel demand exceed 2019 levels in a number of countries.
Can we expect a return to normal in the near future, or a recovery in specific markets?
The final stage of recovery is what we are calling the International stage. We are not there yet, and it is hard to predict exactly when that will come. But certainly what we see is that the picture will be different by market and by region.
Since the sanitary crisis, what has Tripadvisor established to help people travel safely? What help can hoteliers expect to display their sanitary precaution?
When surveyed, more than nine out of ten consumers (92%) said cleanliness is now the most important factor when selecting an accommodation. So it is really important that hoteliers prioritise not only how they keep staff and customers safe, but also how they make this information known to potential guests.
At Tripadvisor, we have introduced tools that help hoteliers promote information about their safety practices for free. We recently launched a Travel Safe initiative that allows hotel owners to select the safety measures they have in place at their property.
The Travel Safe initiative gives customers the peace of mind they need to book a hotel and it gives hospitality businesses a simple way to highlight, at no cost, the steps they are taking to protect their guests’ safety.
All a hotel needs to do is complete a quick and easy checklist about the safety measures they have in place, which they can access for free via the Tripadvisor management centre, and that information will then be displayed on their Tripadvisor listing page.
Over 80,000 properties have already engaged with the Travel Safe feature, and click-through-rates to their Tripadvisor listing pages have increased by as much as 25%, so it really is worth the small investment of time for hoteliers to use the feature.