As hoteliers navigate the ever-evolving landscape of the hospitality industry, certain moments stand out as pivotal, and Black Friday is undeniably one of them. This annual shopping phenomenon has seamlessly woven its way into the fabric of the travel sector, influencing consumer behavior and reshaping booking patterns. With the Black Friday shopping frenzy now behind us for another year, The Hotels Network (THN) has carried out an analysis to understand its impact on direct channel performance, highlighting successes and identifying key takeaways for the future.
For this study, we examined data from the direct channels of over 6,500 hotels worldwide that are clients of THN. The analysis compared the performance of hotel websites during the peak of the Black Friday period (November 13th-27th, 2023) with a similar timeframe from the previous month (October 17th-31st, 2023). To isolate the effect of seasonality, we compared the performance of hotels that conducted a dedicated Black Friday campaign with a control group of hotels that did not run a campaign.
Impact of Black Friday 2023 on hotel direct channel performance
1. A higher percentage of users make searches in the booking engines of hotels showcasing Black Friday offers
In contrast to the pattern observed in 2022, there was a visible increase in hotel website visitors during the Black Friday period. This upswing in traffic was more pronounced for hotels implementing Black Friday campaigns, with their number of visitors growing by 9% on average compared to an uplift of just over 5% for hotels without campaigns.
Perhaps more interestingly, hotels conducting dedicated Black Friday campaigns observed on average a substantial 22% boost in the number of visitors completing a search on the booking engine, while the control group only experienced a 6% increase. This suggests that by proactively communicating Black Friday deals on their website, hotels can effectively engage more travelers in progressing through the online booking funnel.
2. Hotels promoting Black Friday campaigns experienced an impressive 43% surge in website conversion rates
THN’s findings highlighted a notable contrast in website conversion rates between hotels that conducted a Black Friday campaign and those that did not. Hotels actively promoting special offers witnessed an average surge of 43% in website conversion rates, whereas hotels in the control group experienced only a marginal 2% increase during the same period.
Additionally, the findings reveal that hotels implementing a Black Friday campaign elevated their performance in the latter stages of the booking process. These hotels achieved a remarkable average increase of 28% in Booking Engine conversion rates, far surpassing properties without campaigns, which exhibited minimal change, with an average uplift of only 0.8%.
The difference in direct conversions between the two sets of hotels underscores the substantial impact of employing the right tools and tactics to craft an effective marketing strategy around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Promoting tempting deals on both the hotel’s homepage, and within the booking engine, can clearly lead to a significant increase in the volume of direct bookings generated.
3. Black Friday offers don’t mean hoteliers are missing out on revenue
A popular misbelief amongst hoteliers surrounding the concept of Black Friday is that offering deals will lead to a decrease in the average booking value.
Yet, our research shows that hotels implementing strategic campaigns with enticing deals managed to not only boost their conversion rates, but in fact increased their average booking value even more than hotels that offered rooms at their normal rates during the Black Friday period. Using effective website messaging, these hotels engaged with their website visitors, encouraging them to spend more to access exclusive offers, resulting in an average of almost 18% increase in revenue per booking, surpassing the 12% uplift observed in the control group.
4. The most effective marketing messages and campaign strategies
Have a Black Friday pre-sale
It is never too early to get started! Introducing your campaign early can be a savvy strategy for hotels to capture the attention of potential guests ahead of the Black Friday rush, giving a head start to the early planners in order to secure more direct bookings. A pre-sale also builds anticipation and creates a sense of excitement, enticing visitors to complete their bookings in advance to not miss out on the exclusive offer.
By featuring tools such as a countdown clock in your marketing message, you can instill a sense of urgency, helping to boost engagement by tapping into FOMO (fear of missing out).
Collect the user’s email ahead of launching your campaign
As mentioned, no one wants to miss out on a discount! Another successful approach is to collect the user’s email ahead of your Black Friday campaign. Displaying a Layer on your website promising exclusive discounts to your newsletter subscribers is a smart tactic to collect the email addresses of potential customers, expand your marketing database, and increase the likelihood of future bookings.
Optimize your discounts by encouraging an extended LOS
Discounts are one of the most effective incentives when it comes to direct bookings, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your revenue has to take a hit due to your lower rates. The key is to build tactical deals such as promoting extended stays, offering unique perks or upselling higher room categories. One tried and tested way to mitigate the unwanted effects of cutting prices is to implement a minimum LOS (Length of Stay) as a condition to access the Black Friday discount. This is a sure way to secure higher occupancy which will effectively compensate for any reduction in your rates.
The findings of THN’s study highlight a substantial opportunity for hoteliers to enhance their direct channel performance through Black Friday initiatives. From elevating overall web traffic to increasing searches in the booking engine and ultimately improving direct channel conversion rates and overall revenue, this sale is one hotel marketers should not underestimate.
Successful strategies encompass pre-sale campaigns targeting early planners, capturing user emails in return for exclusive offers, and the optimization of deals to extend guests’ average length of stay. To take advantage of the rising demand, dedicated Black Friday offers and website campaigns are sure ways to boost direct bookings and revenue, just as the holiday season heads into its busiest time.