20 months after the world first shut down due to COVID-19, the hospitality industry is looking for ways to continue their path to recovery. Traveler behavior has been unpredictable and hotel occupancy rates have fluctuated: emerging variants, changing government regulations, and inconsistent vaccine availability have all had their impact. But there is hope on the horizon. While we’ve yet to see 2019 levels, Expedia Group’s first-party data suggests that travelers are willing and eager to travel – whether it’s to see loved ones, business colleagues, or to simply satisfy their wanderlust. The key for hotel marketers is to continually monitor both global and local conditions and have a variety of strategies in place. In this post, we discuss one such strategy: TravelAds Sponsored Listings. With TravelAds, you can reach travelers at the right time and maximize bookings in 2022 and beyond.
1. Boost Bookings from Business Travelers
As offices have begun to reopen in some parts of the world and in-person events are happening for the first time since 2020, business travel is also starting to build momentum. One way hotel marketers can improve engagement is to leverage this increasing demand. As we share in our latest Travel Recovery Trend Report, based on exclusive first-party search and booking data collected from July through September of this year, business travel demand was up more than 40% in the third quarter of 2021 compared to Q2. When looking back year-over-year, the numbers are even higher – demand rose 110% compared to the same time last year. And in North America specifically, demand was up 200% year-over-year.
This is supported by a recent survey from SAP Concur. Of the 3,850 respondents, 96% of business travelers in 25 global markets said they’re excited to travel for work, while 68% said they are actually pushing for a return to business travel.
One tool at the hotel marketer’s disposal is TravelAds, which targets travel shoppers based on real-time traveler intent, who are searching across Expedia Group’s portfolio of travel brands. With the bid enhancements capability, hotels can capture demand from specific types of travelers, including the business traveler. For instance, we’re able to see if a single adult is booking a room from Sunday to Thursday, which often indicates they’re traveling for work. By targeting this shopper with a sponsored listing in their booking path, hotels can increase occupancy and fill rooms mid-week with business travelers unlikely to cancel.
2. Capture Interest from International Travelers
Not only is business travel picking up momentum, but international travel is, too. According to the data, New York City was a top-10 booked destination in all super-regions during the third quarter of 2021. Other international destinations—spanning three regions—made the top 10 for travelers in Asia Pacific and Latin America. This is a signal that travel shoppers in many parts of the world are not only ready, but also committing to travel internationally.
Similar to how hotel marketers can leverage the bid enhancement capability to focus on business travelers, they can also target these international travelers. Put simply, this is just a question of identifying shoppers who are in a country that’s different from their chosen destination. By using the international traveler bid enhancement, you can make your listing more visible to those travel shoppers who are actively looking to venture further from home and, by extension, are much more likely to book a longer stay.
Another way to reach and engage international travel shoppers is with TravelAds’ localization capability. This allows marketers to communicate with travelers in any of the available 10 languages, from German and Italian to Mandarin to Thai and Korean. By engaging with travelers in their local language, hotels can differentiate themselves from the competition in a crowded marketplace, expanding their reach even further.
3. Save Time and Stay Within Budget with Post Bill
Reaching the right audience isn’t the only challenge for hotel marketers. As travel brands continue on their road to recovery, budgets are limited and paying for advertising upfront can be a burden. This is why hotels like Hotel Effie Sandestin are taking advantage of the new TravelAds payment option known as Post Bill. Post Bill extends a predetermined line of monthly credit against which hotels can spend, and they only pay for the spend accrued while the campaign was active. This helps hotels ensure their campaigns stay visible even with no upfront payment. After switching to Post Bill, Hotel Effie’s TravelAds campaign saw a threefold increase in impressions month over month, and the hotel was able to pay after generating revenue from the campaign.
Of course, the ongoing crisis has changed the dynamic of travel and the stability of any long-term strategies, which is why our advertising partners need to stay current on traveler sentiment and behavior. By regularly reviewing booking lead time, where travelers want to visit, and who is driving demand, hoteliers can be flexible in their business strategies and achieve their marketing goals in 2022 and beyond.