South African hoteliers see a 94% increase in hotel searches

The end of the summer season saw a significant increase in searches, revenue, and conversion for hotels in South Africa in analysis from July 1st – September 27th 2022. 

The long-awaited return of travel has presented itself over the recent summer months, and South Africa is finally getting its piece of the comeback. Major airlines have announced direct routes to popular South African destinations, such as Kruger National Park, straight from Frankfurt, Germany, and Cape Town, being just one flight away from the United States, directly from Atlanta, Georgia. These routes are key as the top three international visitor countries are The United States, The United Kingdom, and Germany. 

The Hotels Network (THN), a full-stack direct growth platform for hotels, recently analyzed the South African hotel direct channel market scene, identifying opportunities and providing tips on how to act on them. When taking a deeper look at data extracted from BenchDirect, the first hotel benchmarking tool for direct channel performance, this uptick in travel interest is evident in an analysis of direct channel data sourced from South African hotels over the last 90 days. Within the last month and a half, from August 14th – September 27th, hotels experienced an increase of almost 95% in website visitors compared to the previous period. 

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The average number of visitors per property on South African hotel websites over a 90-day period

Not only was there an increase in the number of potential guests arriving on the hotels’ website, but also in the amount of money these bookers are spending once their reservations are completed. On average, travellers spent almost 15% more from mid-August through September than they did in the previous 45-day period, which poses a much-needed boost to the tourism industry as they regain their footing. 

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South African hotel website Average Booking Value over a 90-day period.

If we are seeing more visitors on South African hotel websites and who is spending more money on average, there is an uptick of over 35% in their direct bookings in this most recent period. There is always room to improve direct channel performance. 

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South African hotel website conversion over a 90-day period.

While we have detected various favourable trends for South African hoteliers, one key area to keep an eye on remains within the disparities report. The frequency of OTAs undercutting hotel direct channel prices has risen by almost 40%. The disparity amount increased close to 60%, rising from 11.4% to 18% from the beginning of July until the end of September. Luckily for hoteliers, there are some best practices they can utilize that will help them catch their potential guests’ eyes and encourage them to continue through the booking funnel. 

sa disparities
Average price disparity frequency and amount in South Africa from July 1st – September 27th.

Communication starts from the first moment

From the moment a guest arrives on your hotel website, it’s key to communicate why they should be booking direct. A tried and tested method is presenting them with the various benefits they will receive with their direct reservation. Offering your potential guests’ perks, such as free breakfast, late check-out, or even a welcome bottle of wine, are a few of the ways you can entice a website visitor into completing their booking at your hotel.

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Welcome layer promoting perks of booking direct

Price Match to offer the best rate

South African hoteliers are facing an increase in both the frequency and amount of OTA price disparities. In order to prevent potential guests from booking on an OTA instead of through the direct channel, hotels must ensure they are offering their guests the best possible price. Utilizing a price match feature allows hoteliers to do just that, in real time, by automatically showcasing an offer to match any undercutting OTA when detected, while sweetening the deal with additional perks of booking direct. 

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Price Match feature on South African hotel website

Don’t underestimate mobile

Over half of South African hotel website visitors are navigating their search via mobile devices. Considering that this is a significant portion of your direct channel traffic, this segment of searchers deserves a dedicated strategy. Presenting them with an exclusive mobile offer is one sure way to successfully catch their attention. Want to take it to the next level? Chances are that someone browsing on their mobile phone has arrived at your hotel website via one of your social media platforms. So, why not take advantage of this powerful information? Create an exclusive mobile offer for those coming from Instagram – and make sure that this message is only shown to the relevant audience using THN’s targeting options. With this approach, you are offering guests a much more personalized website experience while giving them many more reasons to confirm their booking straight away.

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Exclusive mobile offer for booking directly

Grow your database

We know that it’s not possible to convince every single visitor on your hotel website to book in the moment. However, what we do know is that those searchers were interested enough to be navigating your direct channel in the first place. So, why not capture their information so that you can follow up with them by email and continue offering them exclusive discounts and perks? A simple way to do this is by showcasing an email capture form so the user can easily fill in their information, and you are able to grow your marketing database. What’s more, by presenting it as an Exit message, you can ensure it is only shown to those users who are about to abandon your website. Simply offering them the chance to stay in the loop opens the door to future opportunities and direct bookings. 

For those guests who are hesitant to complete the reservation or are looking for more information, the form builder feature is the optimal solution for offering your website visitors the opportunity to stay in touch and communicate their exact needs. They’ll feel that they are being heard, and your hotel will have all of the information necessary to move towards closing the deal and ultimately winning the booking. 

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Email capture & form builder features to capture website visitor information

It’s that simple: Learn, then act. Hotel direct channel data is crucial for gaining invaluable insights into your desired market, as we see through this analysis of key metrics from South African hotel websites. By hotel benchmarking, creating an informed direct channel strategy and personalizing the website user experience, South African hoteliers are setting themselves up for success at winning over the increasing amount of visitors that are landing on their homepages. 

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