By Melissa Maher
Last year, Expedia Group released findings that showed package bookings deliver higher ADR and RevPAR, had twice the booking window length, and half the cancellations of standalone bookings. These insights showed unequivocally that hotels should be leveraging packages as a channel for their bookings.
This year, Expedia Group refreshed its global packages data for full year 2017, reflecting tens of millions of packages booked, comparing it once again to standalone bookings. This refresh showed that ADR remained consistently higher with a nearly 30 percent premium, booking windows remained longer with an average of nearly one month added, with standalone cancellations 2.6 times higher. What may be even more compelling is that these numbers are even higher when we look specifically at international package bookings. International package bookings averaged a more than 30 percent higher ADR, booking windows almost two months in advance of stay and even longer length of stay, with cancellations four times lower than standalone bookings.
With these new insights, Expedia Group looked at top U.S. markets attracting international package bookers – Las Vegas, Manhattan, Orlando, Oahu and Miami – to better understand how the markets and hotels are maximizing their offerings to attract this highly desirable audience.
Top Markets: International Package Bookings Top U.S. markets attracting international bookers represent a large cross-section of destinations: beaches and islands, major metro, and entertainment destination. The one thing they all have in common, of course, is that they are top tourist destinations, both domestically and internationally. With dozens of other U.S. markets looking to attract more international packages bookings, Expedia Group market managers for these top markets offer invaluable insights below into their international package booking strategies.
Know Your Top Origins, and Their Specific Travel Habits Package bookings offer many benefits, to hotels and travelers, and to get the most value from packages, hotels should know their top origins markets, both domestically and abroad. You can then look at the specific bookings habits that each origin brings: do they tend to book 5-star or 3-star? Prefer beach or city properties? Are they sightseers, shoppers or both?
- Japan visitors to Oahu tend to prefer luxury, five-star products. Broadly for APAC visitors, shopping credits go far, as well as complementary transportation to the malls, North Shore, etc.
- Both the Miami and Orlando markets are huge drive markets, since Florida has multiple destinations and limited public transportation, which leads to the overall higher car package sales. Hotels in Florida, and other drive markets should make sure they’re not just offering flight-hotel packages, but flight-hotel-car packages as well.
Offer Origin-Specific Deals & Promotions When thinking through advertising and marketing dollars, properties should leverage origin-specific deals. If you know, for instance, that a high percentage of one origin market’s visitors come through the package path, offer a higher discount to draw even more guests from that market. If you are offering a “stay five, save 20 percent” for international packages, you may want to do a “stay five, save 25 percent” to tap deeper into that package-heavy market.
Another tip: don’t miss out on the shorter packages and instead provide discounts for multiple length of stay tiers. A lot of international package promotions focus on seven-plus nights, but they lose out on the four-to-five-night stay, which is often more common. A tiered discount strategy, with discount increasing with nights booked, can ensure you capture every length of package.
Know Your International Packages Bookings Times Be aware of top booking periods from your top origins, which can vary by country and region. For Oahu, January is by far the biggest booking month, with February and March strong as well, whereas compression periods are generally late summer through early winter.
Also, while we have Black Friday deals in the U.S., top booking days and weeks may be different in other countries: Boxing Day is a heavy discount day in Canada, while Europeans tend to travel during summer holiday and Chinese travel heavily during golden week in October.
Knowing that packages have longer booking windows, properties can also keep costs down by targeting only on the package path for customers booking 60-plus days out.
Money matters: Keep an Eye on Exchange Rates Properties should be aware of currency conversion rate changes related to top origin markets. If the U.S. dollar strengthens versus the currency of your target origin, the same discount that worked in the past may no longer have the same value to the customer. Conversely, ADR growth can be felt more.
Know Where the Co-Op Dollars Are Work with DMOs to take advantage of co-op marketing dollars, whether your local DMO or Brand USA, an organization dedicated to marketing the U.S. as a premier travel destination. Brand USA matches 20 percent of an advertiser’s budget to promote inbound traffic into the U.S.
Leverage Insights and Experts Putting big data to work for your property is the smartest thing you can do, because data doesn’t lie. It gives you invaluable insights into origins, seasonal trends, compression periods, buying habits, and your comp set. This is all available to hotels through Expedia Partner Central, Expedia Group’s free insights and action portal for lodging partners. Whether it is Property Analytics, Guest Review Insights or Packages Competitive Price Grid, which shows how your pricing measures up to a specific market, it helps hotels be smarter about their targeting, pricing and promotions. For international bookings specifically, Rev+ revenue management tools will also compare how a property’s rate looks in any currency, which is immensely helpful.