The cards and gift wrap are already in the shops. Ready or not, Christmas is coming and like our traditional retail counterparts, digital shop windows should start ‘tinselling up’ too.
Finalise your offers, get the biggest and best on your website as soon as possible. Speak to your hosts and prepare for heavy traffic. Plan ahead and reap the rewards.
But what’s the size of the prize? And when should you expect traffic to peak?
In this post we look at the why, when, where and how to help you make the most of Christmas this year.
Why? Record traffic and revenue expected
A recent piece of research by Google found that £21.6bn was spent online during the Christmas season (2nd Nov – 27th Dec) in 2014, up 13% on the year before. This is expected to grow further in 2015, with increasing focus on key dates such as Black Friday (Nov 27th), Cyber Monday (Nov 30th), Manic Monday (Dec 14th), Boxing Day etc.
This general growth is buoyed by a projected 42% growth in mobile search queries during the Christmas period, often matching or exceeding desktop search volumes.
Savvy hoteliers take note – the Christmas market has never been more lucrative.
When? Build awareness now, reap the rewards later
The time to act is now. Christmas related search queries start to ramp up in September and, as you would expect, continue right through December. Start the awareness process and ensure you have strong Christmas content and offers on your site as soon as possible to establish a good base of organic search traffic.
Looking at the fairly generic terms ‘Christmas Breaks’, ‘Christmas Party Nights’ and ‘Christmas Lunches’ as an indicator of common search trends for the festive period, we observe the following for 2014 festive season:
- Christmas Breaks has a steady stream of traffic all year, before rapidly increasing from late July onwards. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it also shows the highest volume of searches (of the three terms evaluated) by some considerable margin.
- Christmas Party Nights show a very low volume of searches until July, with search volumes increasing steadily to a peak in around October/November.
- Christmas Lunches show a very low volume of searches until October, where search volumes establish themselves and stay fairly consistent through to December.
So how can you capitalise on these search trends? Why not drive additional awareness through display and social campaigns? Build anticipation and tease sales for big events like Black Friday (in advance (Google’s internal data suggests that searches for ‘Black Friday’ related offerings start 3 weeks prior to the event). Last year, Black Friday surpassed Boxing Day as the busiest retail day, generating £810m in a single day, with 30% of that revenue from mobile. How long before it tops a billion?
And whilst you might be snoozing in front of the Queen’s speech on Christmas Day, schedule something special to publish on your site – there were 25% more transactions online during Christmas day in 2014 than 2013.
Where? Desktop for conversions, mobile for information search
Increasingly, mobile is a key part of the information search within a guest’s typical purchasing decision, often correlating to peak shopping days on the high streets. A recent Google consumer survey suggests that 28% of shoppers research their purchase on mobile – with 16% of shoppers converting on mobile. This compares to 51% of shoppers researching their purchase on desktop, with 41% converting.
Look at your Google Analytics data, did you see a spike of mobile traffic in the lead up to Christmas last year? Tailor this year’s content accordingly – keep descriptions short and snappy, include key information at the top of the page and make calls to action clear and easy to click or tap across devices.
How? What can you do to make the most of Christmas 2015?
- Keep your hotel offers simple – don’t bamboozle your visitors with complicated offers. Simple offers and accommodation packages that are easy to evaluate and compare often perform best.
- Be transparent – let guests know that they’re getting the best offer and that you won’t be discounting your rooms further, providing you actually won’t! This can help convert those that continue to hold out for deeper discounts.
- Prepare for disappointed guests – if you’re running a flash sale with limited availability, there will inevitably be those that miss out on a great rate. Prepare for this, by having a secondary follow up offer, albeit less competitive, to appease those that still might want to book.
- Avoid clichés – forget your ‘Christmas cracker’ accommodation offer! Try to find original ways to position your offers to make them stand out from the crowd.
- Signpost your app – if you have one. A Flurry study from 2014 suggests that mobile app downloads increase 150% on Christmas Day as everyone plays with their new gadget gifts. Make it easy for them to download your hotel’s app.
- And finally, be thankful – use the festive period as an opportunity to thank your guests for another year of custom. If your hotel has a loyalty scheme, why not reward them with a few ‘Christmas bonus points’ or consider an extra special offer for regular guests to return during the often quieter spell after New Year.
About the author
Sam Weston is an experienced hotel marketing professional who has worked both client and agency side. Currently, he is a Senior Account Manager for Edinburgh based agency, Occupancy Marketing, a specialist Internet marketing consultancy for the hotel, tourism and travel industries.