A panel of industry experts at the Boutique and Lifestyle Hotel Summit shared ways to increase direct bookings.
On the ‘Engagement and crisis loyalty dilemma’ panel at the event, which was held from May 12-13 at The Montcalm in London, was Bridge.over group consultant Youri Sawerschel; Viceroy Hotel Group CEO Bill Walshe; Avvio cofounder Frank Reeves and Worldhotels senior director of development Rob van der Beek.
Asked by the moderator, Marketing Week deputy editor Branwell Johnson, what could be business-boosting "quick wins", Sawerschel said: "It’s about identifying the five main type of clients you have and working out how best to speak to them".
"You must understand your USP and promote reasons to book direct. It’s also about encouraging loyalty. More and more people are becoming loyal to the OTAs," added van der Beek.
He added that loyalty should be encouraged among the bookers in the growing MICE segment, as well as among independent travellers.
Viceroy Hotel Group CEO Bill Walshe said the group drives loyalty through the use of its PMS to recognise guests and their preferences.
Referencing one successful initiative at a US hotel, Walshe said: "We saw a competitor hotel was getting 40% repeat visitors from its loyalty programme. So we had a ‘disloyalty’ initiative that rewarded the guests coming to our hotel [who were also part of the competitor’s loyalty scheme].
"I wanted to use the tagline ‘sleep with us and don’t tell your partner’," he quipped.