Accelerate corporate-bookings-02-2012-prospect
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  • 1. Accelerate Your Hotel Bookings with Corporate Travelers:The Hotelier’s Guide to Merchandising Online for Business Travelers It’s no secret that the Web has become the go-to place for travelers when finding and booking hotels. For business travelers – or individuals booking travel arrangements for others in their organization – corporate booking channels and corporate self- booking tools have become the solution of choice when making reservations. The ability to reach potential customers through these channels – and engage them by building a comprehensive, visually-driven story that attracts visitors and makes your hotel stand out from the competition – has become a key component in online hotel marketing. In Part One, we’ll look at the value of corporate channels and why it’s important for you to leverage them as part of your digital marketing strategy. In Part Two, we’ll take a closer look at using an online merchandising tool like VFM Leonardo’s VBrochure™ to really reach out, touch and convert those potential customers. Email this Tweet this
  • 2. www.vfmleonardo.com | 1-877-593-6634 | facebook.com/vfm.leonardo | twitter.com/VFMLeonardo -2-Part One: Corporate Channels and Your HotelWhy Corporate Channels? role. According to Business Travel News, more than 40Corporate bookings have become a significant revenue percent of survey respondents said they use the Web,source for many hotels, and corporate booking a desktop or a Web app, to both shop for and bookchannels and self-booking tools represent a great a travel for their organization2.way to tap into this potentially huge market. Corporate channels are an ideal way to reach theseEven with the economy still in recovery mode, business travelers and turn them into customers. These channelstravel is experiencing continued growth; in the fall of offer a closed market segment, one that2011, global corporate travel bookings increased 4 travels a lot, and is ready to buy; users simply want toper cent from the previous year, with North America in find the best hotel for their needs, within the “rules” theirparticular seeing a 3.3 percent increase. In addition, employer allows.average daily rates (ADR) increased almost 3 percent Fundamentally, the corporate self-booking tools put your hotel in front of an extremely lucrative market – 40% use a desktop or a business travelers. Of course, simply “being there” isn’t enough – that’s just the first step. web app, to both shop for and book travel The next step, which we’ll talk more about in Part Two, is making your hotel stand out from the competition and transforming corporate channel users from prospectsover the prior year globally, and North America realized into customers.an increase of 4.0 percent, almost reaching the year-to-date growth pace of 4.6 percent. Meanwhile, despite What are Corporate Channels?continuing European debt concerns, October bookings Corporate channels are essentially tools – usually in thefor this sector increased by 4.6 percent over the prior form of a Web site, Web app or desktop application,year1. and, increasingly, mobile applications – used by corporations and their travel management companies toIn October 2011, the Global Business Travel make travel arrangements for employees.Association (GBTA) predicted that overall 2011spending by business travelers would end up roughly 7 These channels offer the corporate entities thepercent higher than in 2010. opportunity to take advantage of extensive search and compare tools, as well as rates and packages, thatClearly, business trips remain a key aspect of corporate are all specifically targeted to business travelers (ratherstrategies for driving profit – and when it comes time than going through OTAs or other more leisure-orientedto book those trips, the Web is playing an increasing travel tools). Email this Tweet this
  • 3. www.vfmleonardo.com | 1-877-593-6634 | facebook.com/vfm.leonardo | twitter.com/VFMLeonardo -3-Who are some of the key players?There are many providers that offer corporate bookingtools, and VFM Leonardo counts all of the main playersas partners. While all of the providers have differentstrengths, their goal is the same: provide an easy-to-use method for connecting travel suppliers (includinghotels) with business travelers.Key Providers:• Concur • Concur (Concur Premier)• CLC Lodging • Egencia• American Express Corporate Travel Solutions • Hogg Robinson Group (HRG)• Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT Traveler & Transaction • Lanyon (Lanyon Corporate Hotel Directory, Lanyon Services, CWT Symphonie Self-Booking Tool) Meetings & Event Management, Lanyon Engagement &• Conferma (Hotel Booker) Project Sourcing)• Corpovia Corporate Travel • MeetingsBooker (meetingsbooker.com)• Corporate Travel Consultants (CTC2, TRS Travel • Travelocity Business (Travelocity Business Express) Reservation System, Trip Console) A complete list of VFM Leonardo’s corporate partners is available [here]. Email this Tweet this
  • 4. www.vfmleonardo.com | 1-877-593-6634 | facebook.com/vfm.leonardo | twitter.com/VFMLeonardo -4-How can I Leverage Corporate Channels to off the things that matter to business travelers. YouIncrease Bookings at my Hotel? can also include floor plans to help your visitorsOur experience with corporate channels and self- really visualize themselves in your rooms.booking tools has given us unique insight into how they 2. Don’t just list your amenities – show them off! We’vecan be used effectively. Here are three tips: already established that business travelers want a fitness room and a business center; why not offerConsider What Customers Want virtual tours of each, or a short video demonstratingIt’s important to tailor your messages to the types what each has to offer?of visitors you want to attract. Since we’re talkingabout corporate channels, you know you’re looking at In addition, remember to:business travelers – or individuals booking travel for • Highlight the things business travelers want up-their colleagues. front; • Keep your feature lists organized and concise; • Use inviting, easy-to-digest text alongside images Complimentary in-room that back up your descriptions. Internet remains the most important amenity for business travelersSo - what are they looking for? What’s important tothe people booking/buying travel, and those actuallytraveling?Business Travel News notes3 thatcomplimentary in-room Internet remainsthe most important amenity for businesstravelers. Other key amenities BTNnoted include:• Complimentary breakfast• Promotions and discounts• 24-hour business center• 24-hout fitness center• Loyalty programsOffer a Great Shopping ExperienceIf a potential customer sees twocomparable hotels, with similar featuresand amenities, what’s going to makethem choose you? A great shoppingexperience can be the key differentiator betweengetting that reservation and losing it.Here are a couple of ways to make your hotel stand outnext to the competition:1. Instead of just standard room images, add panoramic images of your rooms – one that show Email this Tweet this
  • 5. www.vfmleonardo.com | 1-877-593-6634 | facebook.com/vfm.leonardo | twitter.com/VFMLeonardo -5-Target Business Travelers with VBrochure™VFM Leonardo’s VBrochure helps hotels connect with Business travelers are increasingly using mobilebusiness travelers by leveraging partnerships with devices to research and book their hotels. Accordingthe market leaders in corporate self-booking tools, to a Sabre Travel Network study, more than two-thirdsnot to mention the distribution capabilities of the of respondents indicated they want to use their mobileVNetwork™, the most universally accepted and largest devices to shop and book hotels. With more thanonline visual content distribution network for the global 80 per cent of business travelers using smartphonestravel industry. The VNetwork includes all four global (and 40 per cent using tablets), it’s clear that mobile distribution technology is a key way to reach business travelers4. systems 80% of business (GDSs), travelers use Pegasus and Smartphones travel-related channels including onlinetravel agencies, travel research and supplier web sites,search portals and major travel intermediaries.In other words, yourbases are covered whenyou use VBrochure. Butusing it to effectivelytarget business travelersis another challengealtogether.To help you reach thesepotential customers,VBrochure allowsyou to create andsyndicate targeted visualexperiences that speakto business travelers.Using VBrochure, youcan easily highlight thethings we discussedabove that matter tobusiness travelers– Internet access,breakfast, business andfitness centers, and soon. And with VNetwork,you know that yourmessage will remainconsistent across ournetwork of top corporatetravel channels. Email this Tweet this
  • 6. www.vfmleonardo.com | 1-877-593-6634 | facebook.com/vfm.leonardo | twitter.com/VFMLeonardo -6-Many corporate booking channels have recognized the It doesn’t matter if a consumer is accessing theincreasing demands for mobile optimized research and channels’ website, mobile website or mobile appbooking experiences, and have launched mobile apps from their mobile device, when the Multi-Media Playerand websites to meet those demands. is launched; it detects the device they’re using andVFM Leonardo’s VBrochure™ is mobile optimized. This displays the appropriate, optimized experience.means when a consumer clicks to view a VBrochurecustomer’s VPowered Multi-Media Player on any one This means that hotels using VBrochure provideof the corporate channels in the VNetwork, the media consumers with a visually rich experience wherever theywill be displayed optimally for the mobile device they’re find the hotel, on whatever mobile device they’re using.using. If a visitor doesn’t have a positive experience when using their smartphone, that’s a potential customer lostThe VPowered Multi-Media Player works on a number before the process has even begun!of operating systems (iOS4, Android, Blackberry OS)and devices (iPhone, Blackberry and popular Androids In Part Two, we’ll take a more detailed look at somephones from makers such as Motorola and Nokia). specific ways VBrochure™ can help you take yourUnlike mobile media players that are universal for corporate channel marketing strategy to the next level.all operating systems and devices, VFM Leonardo’s We’ll even give you step-by-step instructions on how tohas advanced detection and display technology that do it.ensures the user always gets the optimal experience forthe device they’re using. Email this Tweet this
  • 7. www.vfmleonardo.com | 1-877-593-6634 | facebook.com/vfm.leonardo | twitter.com/VFMLeonardo -7-Part Two: Reaching and Engaging Business Customers Using VBrochureIn Part One, we talked about the importance of VNetwork™, are great ways to transform your hotel’scorporate channels. In Part Two, we’ll take a look at presence on corporate channels and self-bookingspecific ways VFM Leonardo’s VBrochure™ can help tools, and start turning business visitors into customers.you drill down and target business travelers specifically,turning them from Web visitors into confirmed The ability to reach travelers through both managedreservations! and unmanaged business travel channels is a distinct advantage of the media network that VBrochure™ isHow VBrochure™ Helps syndicated to.Business travel remains a cornerstone of the travelindustry, one that continues to see growth. Using VFM Let’s take a look at an example. Jennifer works for aLeonardo’s VBrochure™, and taking advantage of the software company that uses a corporate self-booking tool for employee travel arrangements; she has an upcoming conference to attend in San Francisco, so she logs into the self-booking tool to find and book a hotel. The company has already established its rules within the self-booking tool system – the maximum price of hotels, star rating, features, etc., that it deems appropriate for its employees. Thus, when Jennifer searches for San Francisco hotels, only those that meet these guidelines will be displayed. In this case, let’s say four hotels, including yours, meet the guidelines – all three-stars, all at approximately the same rate, all with a business center. If your three competitors are only presenting a couple of images and a list of features, here’s your opportunity to make your hotel jump off the screen with a rich, visually- driven story. Email this Tweet this
  • 8. www.vfmleonardo.com | 1-877-593-6634 | facebook.com/vfm.leonardo | twitter.com/VFMLeonardo -8-By offering panoramic 360-degree photos of her compelling visually-driven story within a “mini-website.”room, a video that shows what the business center In an August 2010 report, comScore noted thathas to offer, virtual tours of the conference rooms, and online shoppers who watch video spend an averagedescriptions that really show how the hotel will make of two additional minutes on a website and are 64%Jennifer’s business trip successful, you’ve delivered an more likely to buy compared to non-video sites. Theengaging, memorable experience that stands out from VPowered Multi-Media Player delivers video and athe rest – and one that’s going to make Jennifer want to multi-media experience in a mini-website to multiplestay at your hotel. sources and channels. The result is a consistent and compelling message no matter where it’s being viewed that increases engagement (amount of time spent Online shoppers who watch video reviewing your hotel) and conversions (number of spend an average of two additional bookings as a result). minutes on a website and are 64% more likely to buy compared to non- Instead of just presenting another hotel online with video sites a few photos and a list of features, VBrochure’s mini-website player lets you build a rich, engagingThis is where the opportunity lies, and this is where experience for prospects, with panoramic photos,VBrochure excels. You know the corporate travelers videos, virtual tours and more. VBrochure’s deep visualare there. You know they’re using the corporate self- experience draws prospects in and makes learningbooking tools – and you know your competitors are about your hotel a memorable experience.using them as well. What follows is a series of five guidelines we’veVBrochure lets you engage these travelers, and stand developed to help you deliver a strong message toout from the competition by building a comprehensive, business travelers! Email this Tweet this
  • 9. www.vfmleonardo.com | 1-877-593-6634 | facebook.com/vfm.leonardo | twitter.com/VFMLeonardo -9- 1Step One: What Makes You Appealing?This is an easy step: Jot down all of the features andamenities you offer that appeal to business travelers.We talked about this in part one;research shows things like Wi-Fi andcomplementary breakfast appeal, butdon’t just go by our examples; whatdo your visitors tell you? Examplesmight include:• Free Wi-Fi• Airport shuttle• Business center• Express check-in 2 Step Two: Use Media that Showcase Your Appeal Considering what you’ve jotted down in Step One, look at the media you already have. Does it showcase these things? Even if it does, consider if it’s effective, and think about creating new media that highlights these features. Think about the following possibilities: • A short video specifically for business travelers (don’t forget to involve your staff!) • Promotions exclusively for business travelers • Linking floorplans and images to virtual tours or detail shots. With VBrochure™, you can add Clickable Image Hotspots that highlight specific areas in an image – areas your prospects can click on to “zoom in” for more detail, more images, or even a virtual tour. For example, you might show a picture of a your business center and describe what it offers. But with a Clickable Image Hotspot, your visitors can take a virtual tour and see for themselves! It’s the next best thing to being there. Get creative with your visuals! Email this Tweet this
  • 10. www.vfmleonardo.com | 1-877-593-6634 | facebook.com/vfm.leonardo | twitter.com/VFMLeonardo - 10 - 3 Step Three: Work on your narrative Every hotel describes their features and amenities on the Web. What makes yours stand out? Ditch the generic, boring descriptions and make it real and inviting! Remember the following: • Catchy headlines go a long way • Long paragraphs are a no-no – business travelers in particular don’t have time to read long blocks of text • Use short, concise descriptions with bullet points! 4 Step Four: Get started with VBrochure Now it’s time to put your content to work. We can help! Contact us and we’ll get you up and running with VBrochure. 5Step Five: Watch your Business Bookings Improve!Once your VBrochure mini-site hits the Corporate Travelchannels in the VNetwork™, we’re confident you’ll start Seasonalseeing improvements in no time. Promotion Content Update1. Travel Recovery Shows No Signs of Stopping, The Pegasus View, October 2011.2. BTN Research Issue: Connecting With Managed Travelers, BTN Group, October 24, 2011.3. BTN Research Issue: Connecting With Managed Travelers, BTN Group, October 24, 2011.4. What Business Travelers Want When it Comes to Mobile, Hotelmarketing.com, September 2011.wp_cb1.0_p_022012 Email this Tweet this