Ask the Hotel Heroes: "Retargeting is cheaper than acquiring new guests"

Each month, the Hotel Heroes - our panel of trusted hospitality industry experts - answer questions from hotels around the world.

This month, we asked our heroes some of the best questions that we received from delegates at the Direct Booking Summit in Miami. Through our interactive app, hoteliers asked about retargeting, managing meta auctions, loyalty and much more. Scroll down for the Heroes' answers!




If you were starting an independent hotel from scratch tomorrow, what would be the first thing you’d implement to drive direct bookings?



Rob Paterson

Answered by Hotel Hero Rob Paterson, CEO at Best Western GB:


Hotel website with brand terms covered on PPC together with a basic revenue management strategy.


Answered by Hotel Hero Inderpreet Banga, Vice President, Channel & Distribution Strategy at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts:


It really depends on the location of the hotel, i.e. leisure market vs. the corporate market.

For both markets, parity is most important. If it's a corporate market, it's important to get a local salesperson to entice local companies to stay at the hotel and to learn more about it.

In a leisure market, focusing on differentiating content and social media with an opportunity to deploy some type of loyalty program or perks for booking direct has been hugely successful.


Answered by Hotel Hero Ludovic Cacciapaglia, Assistant Vice President Distribution at Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts:


Define a channel mix according to the hotel location, geosource market and segmentation. If the property is in a corporate location, carefully consider contracts with bedbanks and focus more on B2C channels such as OTAs and metasearch. This should help better control parity and reduce the number of competing channels in the meta space (thereby reducing cost of sales and increase conversion).

You can also leverage digital vendors for your website creation and improving the booking engine user experience.

You should define your room types in clear and consumer-friendly language. To do that, understand which language you should support according to your main markets.

Finally, think about the target user: how do they expect to see prices (full stay, the average per night, inclusive of all fees)? Different markets will have different expectations!


What’s the most impactful thing a small revenue team can implement or use to see the most return on their time investment?



Answered by Hotel Hero Ludovic Cacciapaglia, Assistant Vice President Distribution at Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts:

You can get an automated revenue management system to save time and focus on your customers.


Answered by Hotel Hero Inderpreet Banga, Vice President, Channel & Distribution Strategy at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts:


Time and time again the most impactful way is to ensure parity across all channels and then offer great deals through your loyalty rates- or email them to increase the share of bookings via direct!


Should meta be managed in-house by the hotel team or by an agency?


Answered by Hotel Hero Inderpreet Banga, Vice President, Channel & Distribution Strategy at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts:


For a small hotel, working with an agency makes the most sense - unless they only want to participate in meta with Google. Tools are available on Google are very robust and relative to Google Adwords.


Do you have a threshold (e.g. revenue, or an alternative measure) in terms of turning off a potential wholesale distributor for contract violations?



Jan Sammeck Answered by Hotel Hero Dr. Jan Sammeck, Director E-Commerce at Deutsche Hospitality:


Three strikes and you are out! Seriously, you have to set a final limit for the number of observed violations in a given time (e.g. 30 days or 3 months), after which you immediately cancel all availabilities for a certain partner.


What innovative loyalty benefits would you recommend to a hotel that does not already have a loyalty program?



Answered by Hotel Hero Ludovic Cacciapaglia, Assistant Vice President Distribution at Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts:


There are many programs out there (e.g. Voila and Stashrewards), but you need to consider what you need the loyalty program for: to reduce OTA dependency? more repeat customers?

It can also depend on the hotel segment. For example, for a luxury hotel, I recommend using service and guest experience as a unique loyalty value proposition.


Answered by Hotel Hero Inderpreet Banga, Vice President, Channel & Distribution Strategy at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts:


Cashback relates back to consumers with “instant gratification”. Given leisure consumers don’t travel as often as business travelers, points may not mean much for them if they're not practical for them. Perks such as gift cards to coffee shops or national chains can also be great for various types of guests!

Rob Paterson

Answered by Hotel Hero Rob Paterson, CEO at Best Western GB:


Surprise and delight. Keep it personal and unexpected!


Do we, as hoteliers, tend to book direct ourselves? Where do you book your rooms (outside of your own brand) when staying in another hotel?



Answered by Hotel Hero Inderpreet Banga, Vice President, Channel & Distribution Strategy at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts:


Yes, always! I always educate my family and friends on the benefits of booking direct. That’s the only way the entire industry and owners can benefit.

Rob Paterson

Answered by Hotel Hero Rob Paterson, CEO at Best Western GB:


Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Holidays… depends on the reason for travel and what I am looking for.


Do you see any of the other top hotel franchises doing a strategic alliance as Marriott have with Expedia?



Answered by Hotel Hero Inderpreet Banga, Vice President, Channel & Distribution Strategy at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts:


Possibly Hilton - their third party share is relatively low. However, while Marriott had the upper hand given their limited contribution from the third-party sites, many other brands get a significant chunk of their revenue from OTAs. But for brands like Marriott, giving more business to a major OTA may not be in the best interest of those franchises.


What is an ideal (and fair!) attribution model for retargeting? My agency is claiming a lot of bookings, and I’m not sure I believe them.



Jan Sammeck Answered by Hotel Hero Dr. Jan Sammeck, Director E-Commerce at Deutsche Hospitality:


Retargeting providers/networks usually attribute bookings on a first-click basis. That is, regardless of the marketing channel that immediately preceded the booking (i.e. last-click), when the retargeting ad was clicked before, that booking is attributed to the marketing channel “retargeting”.

I would assume that your agency charges according to booking revenue on a first-click basis. Although last-click attribution would be more beneficial to the hotel, it is fair to say that the retargeting ad might have had some influence in the conversion, which is not honored by pure last-click reimbursement. That is why I would suspect this is hard to negotiate with your agency.

A risk-free model for a hotel would be to reimburse on first-click, but to set a maximum Cost of Sale for bookings for the agency (8-12% is feasible). That way you can ensure a healthy balance between bookings that the agency can charge for, and the security of getting a return on your ad spend from the agency’s services.

Rob Paterson

Answered by Hotel Hero Rob Paterson, CEO at Best Western GB:


No exact answer here. The agency will always attempt to claim as much as possible because their driver is commission on your advertising spend. Best to take your own position and accept ALL agencies will do the same thing as it’s their source of income.


Why should retargeting be a part of my direct conversion strategy?


Rob Paterson

Answered by Hotel Hero Rob Paterson, CEO at Best Western GB:


It should be based on your ROI. Some retargeting has a very strong ROI, and some doesn't. There is no clear-cut formula, you just have to understand it for your business and spend where the return makes sense.


Jan Sammeck Answered by Hotel Hero Dr. Jan Sammeck, Director E-Commerce at Deutsche Hospitality:


If you have a sufficient amount of traffic on your website, it is a good way to get users who are already familiar with your brand to convert. Remember, it is much more cost-efficient to target users who have already been in contact with your hotel/brand than to acquire completely “new” users.

Also, retargeting is easy to manage. With CPO-goals, you can let the algorithms of the providers manage your campaigns and media assets.


Answered by Hotel Hero Inderpreet Banga, Vice President, Channel & Distribution Strategy at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts:


So crucial! These customers have already gone to your website and most likely want to book your hotel. Retargeting allows you to continue to message to that potential guest and drive direct bookings!



About The Author

The Triptease Platform is built to help hotels take back control of their distribution and increase their direct revenue.

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