The online booking process is a critical phase in the travel planning journey for travelers and independent hotels. In many cases, hotel rooms are travelers’ largest financial commitment. For hotels, online bookings validate investments into digital reservations channels, marketing campaigns and other revenue-driving efforts. The value of online booking is undeniable, but let’s take a closer look at the booking behavior of travelers to see how independent hotels should position themselves today and in the future for financial success.
Millennials (18-34 year olds) and their future spending potential grab many of the hotel industry media headlines, but its baby boomers (65+ year olds) who have the dollars and time to travel now. Millennials make up 32% of travelers and budgeted around $3,900 for travel in 2016. However, at 34% of the traveling population, baby boomers are not only a larger group, they’ve set aside more than double the amount ($10,000) of millennials for travel. For independent hoteliers, both groups possess the buying power to generate strong online bookings, but data shows that their booking preferences differ.
How they’re booking.
The booking trends of millennials and baby boomers are the perfect example of why the “booking wars” between hotels and OTAs are heating up. Among baby boomers, nearly half (44%) prefer to book their accommodations directly with hotels versus through OTAs (29%). However, millennials are turning to OTAs (39%) slightly more than hotel websites (34%), but this margin will likely change, in one way or another, as this demographic matures – shifting billions in travel spending towards hotels or OTAs and making online booking more competitive in the process.
Fork in the road?
Which trend is the safer bet for independent hotels: investing in OTAs to court millennials who are less affluent now, but carry billions in future spending potential or developing robust direct booking channels for baby boomers who are currently spending more on travel? Well, in our opinion, this is one of those occasions where hoteliers can have it both ways.
With innRoad’s cloud-based, independent hotel property management software, operators can position themselves to attract baby boomers with our booking engine and reservation software and capture millennial OTA bookings through our global distribution services. Both features are seamlessly integrated into our hotel software, putting independents in complete control of their inventory and finances. Learn more about innRoad by clicking here or calling 1-855-INNROAD to speak with one of our online booking experts.