Having a Nash Bash: How Your Hotel Marketing Can Capitalize on Events To Increase Direct Bookings

Capitalize on increased demand during major events to drive bookings.

October 3, 2023

Originally published in Hotel Online.

From bachelorette parties to concerts, Nashville is an increasingly popular destination for events–and these events are selling out hotel rooms well in advance. Recently, the Music City hosted concerts from artists like Taylor Swift to George Strait, both of which drove a sharp spike in hotel bookings. In fact, room rates at mid-range hotels during the Taylor Swift concert weekend ran upwards of $1,150 per night. And it’s not just concerts driving bookings: Nashville is becoming a bachelor and bachelorette party mecca, and many of these parties take place during weekends without large events. Now, with the right data, hotel marketers can understand traveler behavior and capitalize on this increased demand to drive direct bookings.

How Events Influence Traveler Behavior

Travelers search and book well in advance for big-name concerts, especially in Nashville. This increase in bookings not only sells out rooms well in advance but also drives up room rates. According to Sojern data, more than half of the bookings (55%, 52%) of hotel nights during the Taylor Swift concert weekend came with a lead time of 60+ days, while for George Straight about 54% of bookings came with a lead time of 60+ days. Approximately 50% of bookings were for two nights only, which indicates that the main purpose for travel was the concert(s). On the other hand, bookings for three or more people jumped during non-concert or event weekends, indicating bachelor and bachelorette parties were in full swing.

What Does This Mean for Hotel Marketers?

Hotel marketers can capitalize on these increases in demand and stand out from the crowd by taking a discover-plan-book approach. With this approach, marketers can reach travelers early with the right message, such as fun amenities for a bachelorette party or close proximity to a concert venue, and secure–often pricey–direct bookings months in advance.

During the discover phase, marketers can reach new travelers who are thinking about booking but aren’t yet sure where to stay. By using display prospecting, posting inspiring videos on social media, and non-branded keyword bidding, marketers can meet travelers where they are with messages that resonate. In the planning phase, marketers can retarget those customers to stay top of mind when they get closer to booking. This can be through retargeting, custom audiences on social media, or using branded SEM.  Metasearch is also an effective tool if the prospective traveler has already visited the website and is looking for the best deal. As travelers move further down the funnel to book, marketers can apply similar tactics to push them to convert. 

Increasing Direct Bookings Starts With the Right Data

An effective data strategy underpins every successful discover-plan-book campaign. The combination of first-party data that the hotel collects and traveler intent data from key partners gives hotel marketers the insights they need to find travelers who are thinking of booking in their area. What’s more, marketers can also use that information to discover the reason for their trip so they can serve up relevant offers.

A great first-party data program hinges on collecting data from multiple sources, including loyalty program information, booking details, and a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to understand more about guests. One key source involves building audiences of potential travelers from industry marketing platforms that track anonymous shoppers looking at your property or similar hotels and markets. This can even be combined with data you observe during a guest stay in person. For example, a past front desk interaction may indicate a guest’s preferences, such as having a specific newspaper available. Hotel marketers can use those nuggets of information to ensure that the same newspaper is available during the guest’s next stay. Once a hotel is collecting first-party data from these sources, they can activate loyalty program data to adjust campaigns by region or demographic. 

Concerts, events, and bachelor(ette) parties are in full swing, giving hotel marketers a golden opportunity to capitalize on demand and drive bookings months in advance. When hotel marketers deploy discover-plan-book campaigns that are underpinned by both first-party data and traveler intent data, they can reach travelers early in their booking journey, and maximize impact in competitive markets. 

To learn more about first-party data, check out How Hotel Brands Are Using First-Party Data to Drive Revenue & Build Stronger Relationships, or reach out to a Sojern hotel marketing expert today.

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