If nothing else, ‘transformation’ has been the name of the game for the travel industry in 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a complete overhaul of the industry’s protocols and norms, with each sector now looking to adapt to a safe and healthy future.
Leading travel technology company Travelport recently released a new eBook: “Hotel Revenue: A Recovery Guide For Travel Agencies.” Traditionally, air ticket sales have been the primary driver of revenue, but with this stream significantly down, agencies are shifting their focus to capitalize on domestic travel trends instead. It’s with this in mind that the eBook helps travel agencies navigate what has become an unfamiliar retail landscape due to the global pandemic.
Travelport’s latest material weaves statistics and analysis across four major sections: A hotel industry snapshot, an overview of why hotel sales are valuable to travel agencies, steps to drive hotel revenue, and how to kickstart recovery.
SkiftX unpacks the eBook’s key messages here:
Hotel Industry Snapshot
After widespread lockdowns and temporary closures, hotels have been working diligently to operationalize new Covid era health and safety protocols – as those emerge.
Encouraged by loosening restrictions in many regions, travelers have expressed renewed enthusiasm for hoteling, but with new demands: above all, strict sanitization and safety measures.
Travelport highlights that 73 percent of travelers interviewed as part of its recent research would book accommodation again with new safety protocols in place, underpinned by an industry-level guarantee or accreditation. Hotel groups worldwide have already begun to brand their new safety policies and to position them as unique differentiators.
Digitization stands to become even more essential post-Covid, as travelers look for contactless experiences, including virtual menus, mobile room selection and checkout, conference room booking, event scheduling, and concierge apps.
Hotels are going above and beyond to reinforce confidence; the challenge is for agencies to bolster this effort by delivering accurate, thorough communication to prospective travelers.
Regarding industry bounce-back, predictions remain varied given the complexity of the situation and lack of any real-world comparison. Seventy-seven percent of operators expect full recovery within three years, with a consensus that leisure travel will be the first to bounce back.
As it was one of the first to endure the crisis, and thought to be the first to recover, all eyes are on the Asian market for clues to the trends ahead.
Previously, travel agencies might have viewed hotel conversions as an attachment to air bookings. But given the new domestic travel trend and renewed appetite for agency advice, hotel is being reimagined as an independent revenue stream in its own right.
Long before 2020, hotels substantially beat air and car on sales margin, and this has become even more pronounced. In the U.S., for example, air, cruise and rail revenue has dropped 70 percent, as more and more travelers choose ‘staycations’ as an alternative, benefiting domestic hotel sales considerably.
Additionally, travelers are seeking out agencies for post-Covid hotel policy information, and as trusted guides on travel safety and logistics.
Travelport highlights recent statistics where travelers were more likely to use a travel agency than before Covid-19. Interestingly, younger travelers (18-38 years) expressed they would seek out an agent for future bookings – the largest increase of any age segment.
10 Steps to Drive Hotel Revenue
To help get back to recovery, Travelport offers agencies ten areas of focus.
Above all, they should be delivering accurate policy and safety information to their clients, including distancing requirements, regulations, and government policies, in real time, with every change.
Clients will increasingly look for differentiation and choice in their hotel booking, so agents must cater to this deeper level of personalization.
Dynamic pricing, including special deals and unique add-ons, will help attract new sales, while enhanced GDS capabilities will help optimize rates and commissions, while giving greater control over relationships, margins, and customer data.
GDS data is indeed crucial to recovery, and agencies ought to leverage shared data, tools, and partnerships through this channel.
Travelers will increasingly look to visual cues and information as they make their bookings, so interactive and graphical capabilities, as well as integrated mapping, and access to on the spot reviews, will all become indispensable tools.
Strong online presence and digital strategy is as important as ever for agencies, so too the need to strongly personalize their offering.
Though Covid-19 has shaken up the industry, agencies stand to boost their value as trusted travel advisors to an increasingly safety-conscious and information-hungry clientele.
Domestic leisure sales are returning, with hotel revenue at the forefront. To capitalize on the latest position, reassurance, information, and dynamic offers mark the way forward, driven by flexible, knowledgeable and highly customized service.