In case we haven’t talked about it enough, last week we kicked off the industry’s first ever Direct Booking Summit! More than 150 industry experts gathered together to discuss the hottest topic in the industry right now: direct bookings.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting blogs about each talk and what we learned.
First up: Simon Jones, Managing Director of Premier Inn.
To give you a bit of background, Premier Inn are pretty much nailing the direct booking game. And when we say nailing it, we mean really nailing it. According to Simon, 93% of Premier Inn’s bookings come direct.
So, how did Premier Inn get to it's success?
1/ Understand your customer's needs: “location, location, location!”
The number one purchase driver for any Premier Inn hotel is the location. When Premier Inn look to open a new hotel, Simon’s main criteria is location – is it close to the city’s main leisure and entertainment hubs?
“People don’t stay at Premier Inn because they’re absolutely desperate to stay at the Premier Inn. They stay because they have other plans, whether it’s for a wedding, or a weekend away with the lads, or a business trip.
We know why our customers come to us and therefore we make sure we don’t let them down. We make sure they’re staying in the prime location, breakfast is self serve, and of course, you’re guaranteed a good night’s sleep.”
Customers generally have a core sense of what they’re looking for in a hotel, as long as you can tap into this and understand what your customer are looking for in your hotel, you can meet their expectations. Offer them the experience they need to keep them coming back.
2/ Consistent messaging: The power of the brand
For pretty much as long as they can remember, Premier Inn’s messaging has centered around the most important thing in all our lives – a good night’s sleep.
Throughout all of their communications and marketing, the main focus is on the importance of a good night’s sleep and, as a result, this has become a strong part of their brand. Having consistent messaging helps you to create a powerful brand, and having a powerful brand helps drive trust, loyalty, and more direct bookings.
“It might be boring to always hammer on about the same thing, so you need to find new and exciting ways of delivering the message, and that’s when things get exciting for the customer.”
3/ Direct bookings from Day One
Premier Inn was founded 15 years ago, and right from the beginning getting direct bookings has always been a fundamental part of the business, and is critical to the success they see today.
“We are a value player, so we have to manage our cost base and we have to manage our price very carefully. Any type of commission based distribution channel ultimately puts our value proposition at risk.”
This is why direct bookings have been a standing principle from day one, and their business model has been built with this in mind from the beginning.
4/ Online vs offline: the digital and the physical worlds align
The online world is a weird and wonderful place. For every hotel, it’s important to look at how your hotel is being perceived by online communities and make sure it follows through in physical world.
Thanks to review sites, such as TripAdvisor, customers have access to hundreds (or often thousands) of reviews and ratings of your hotel, and this information is a fundamental part of anyone looking to book a hotel.
“Premier Inn offers limited service hotels. We focus on the core offering, we tell the truth about our brand and our services in all of our communications, and as a result it’s in line with what others, our customers, are saying about us. This increases trust, which then increases brand loyalty.”
Watch the full talk: