With advancements in booking technology, resorts have seen experience-based inventory – shows, restaurants, pools, nightclubs, lounges, amenities and more – drive an increase in direct bookings. In our recent Integrated Resorts & Amenities Study, 90% of travelers who took the survey said they are more likely to book direct when there is better access to on-property amenities and experiences.
Selling directly enhances the guest experience and increases ROI, says Tracee Nalewak, Chief Growth Officer. “Selling directly to customers gives you total control over the guest booking journey curating a much more seamless and on-brand guest experience founded on upselling and cross-selling.”
However, most properties still have a fractured booking path with disconnected booking systems and a non-linear guest booking journey.
So the question that needs to be asked is: if selling experience-based inventory to customers through direct booking results in more revenue and better control, then why are resorts still selling the old way?
Experience Booking Within Resorts is Fractured
There are currently hundreds of different reservation and booking platforms utilized every day across the experience economy. Restaurants, entertainment, spas, recreation, amenities – each industry with their own booking systems and widgets.
Resorts and hotels over the past 5 to 10 years have had to frankenstein together how their experience-based inventory is sold online. Room booking is now only half the story of the digital booking experience for guests.
When a guest wants to reserve seats for the hottest show at the resort, or purchase a cabana for a day, they are sent to a third-party platform for purchase. Or, in the most inefficient cases, must call experience-based vendors to secure their reservation.
This fractured process limits a property’s ability to cross-sell and upsell experience-based inventory in the direct booking process.
Non-room inventory complexity in the direct booking model
Non-room inventory is also anything but standardized. When a traveler books a flight, the reservation is inputted as a date, flight number, a row number, a seat number, and so on. Building technology around these typical data parameters is more straightforward than handling experience inventory, which can vary widely by hotel.
For example, pool cabana rentals. While a great source of revenue for a resort, there are many unique approaches to selling them. One may want to rent out cabanas by the hour, another by the half day, and others may want to incentivize food and beverage purchases with minimums, and so on.
Considering the dozens of potential revenue streams related to experience-based inventory – live events, shows, nightclubs, restaurants, lounges, spas, pools, and beyond – it’s easy to imagine the complexity involved with creating one-size-fits-all technology that works well across all resort types.
Selling Hospitality as an Itinerary of Personalized Experiences
Even today in the era of consumer customization, the idea of selling hospitality as an itinerary of personalized experiences is still relatively new.
For decades hotels and resorts have focused industry knowledge solely on the monetization of the room:
- Attribute-based selling
- Upselling a guest with upgrades and special offers
Today, with digital algorithms targeting advertising to niche, loyal audiences and their preferences, it is easy to build experienced-based resort concepts where the room is a single part of a much larger, revenue-generating booking path. Some examples include:
- Resort destinations focused on health and wellness
- A beach resort with activities and excursions
- Boutique hotel experiences in the middle of New York City
- Family-focused destinations with water parks and activities
For legacy operators, there is a conceptual barrier for how the industry should view and monetize a resort stay – especially when each resort is unique in their offerings.
The UrVenue Unified Booking approach
Unified booking is a straightforward concept that allows hospitality operators to manage reservations, inventory and pricing for cross-resort products and services in a single shopping cart interface. Unified booking:
- Saves guests time and frustration over booking across separate systems
- Empowers properties to easily leverage underutilized assets
- Gives properties the ability to upsell and cross-sell all of its inventory
- Provides flexibility to package/bundle or charge à la carte on all experiences
- Can integrate with hotel PMS and POS to unify resort and guest data like never before
The UrVenue-OpenTable partnership is one example of a natural progression of the unified booking concept, bringing together two esteemed hospitality brands that share a common goal of improving on a cohesive, guest-driven travel experience.
Guests respond enthusiastically to centralized booking experiences.
89% of respondents to the UrVenue/YouGov Direct “Integrated Resorts and Their Amenity Capabilities” study said they are looking for more ways to personalize their trip and would continue booking amenities and experiences after selecting their room.
Which amenities might you ask? The top 5 experiences guests would add to their itinerary are:
- Restaurants (69%)
- Special Events (58%)
- Spa Reservations (58%)
- Pool & Beach Cabana Rentals (55%)
- Show & Theater Tickets (54%)
These experiences and amenities can be a launching point in the booking path for all the other experiences a property has to offer.
UrVenue makes unified booking – and direct booking of experiences – possible by solving the underlying issue of managing siloed booking and reservations streams. Guests gain visibility into the full range of experiences available to them at the time of booking, which makes it more likely they’ll commit to on-property experiences before they even arrive.
Which in turn, makes those experiences integral to the bottom line.