Chat with any hotel marketing team these days and one common question pervades: how can we increase direct and repeat bookings?
It’s an exciting challenge, and a pressing one. Online travel agents (or, They-Who-Need-Not-Be-Named) can take up to 50% commission on bookings. Increasing direct bookings alone has a substantial impact on the bottom line.
But how? While hotels of all shapes and sizes across the globe grapple with time consuming strategies, I believe there are some simple and unexpected ways to generate the brand awareness and loyalty, which then leads to an increase in direct and repeat bookings.
Coffee cups, for example.
Yes, coffee cups.
Let’s look at the numbers. According to the European Coffee Federation, Europe has the highest per capita coffee consumption in the world. Every day, some 725 million cups of coffee are drunk in the EU.
We are a coffee nation, and in the hotels we work with, bespoke coffee cups are one of the most popular items in our online shops. But selling branded mugs can do more than just add to retail revenues – it plants your hotel brand into people’s homes, and amongst happy family moments.
All of our clients are doing this, each putting their unique mark on the popular caffeine vessel. The Story Hotel in Stockholm is known for its colourfully muted simplicity, and this comes across in their coffee cup design. Their range of mugs and espresso cups are handmade by local designer Agneta Livijn, and used during breakfast service in the hotel. Guests drink from them during their stay, fall in love, are purchase them in the online shop from their smart phones.
In the UK, the Hoxton - known for its trendy quirk - has done a fantastic job of conveying its brand values onto the coffee cups found in every room. Simple type, on a white mug, with cheeky messages painted inside – it’s pure Hoxton: clean design, tongue-in-cheek. The actual cup itself is made of simple materials, but the branding and messaging makes it a unique reminder of a guest’s stay at the hotel. Once again, guests conveniently purchase them online and we ship them from our fulfillment offices directly to the guests’ homes.
Think of coffee cups as a small token of happy memories in your hotel. More importantly, make it easy for guests to purchase them along with other desirable interiors and local gifts. Selling them via your online shop is extra convenient for guests, as they don’t have to cart them home or pinch them!
So, selling branded coffee cups could be part of your hotel’s direct booking strategy, not least a driver for your TRevPAR. Our observations show that guests are much more likely to share and recommend your hotel to friends and loved ones if a little piece of their hotel stay is present in their daily lives. All ages and demographics drink coffee and tea. Urban advertising myths claim that consumers need to be exposed to a brand at least seven times before they remember that brand.
What better way to get your hotel on people’s lips figuratively than by having it touch their lips literally?