The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the travel industry. Along with the financial and operational challenges properties faced, competition within the market dramatically increased as demand slowed down. During this time, we worked on creating stronger marketing tools to help you grow your business as demand begins to return.
From targeted rates to seasonal deals, there’s a wide array of solutions designed to help you attract customers as travel restarts. But how can properties grow their value without necessarily dropping their prices? This is a question Varun Raj, Assistant Director of Sales and Marketing at Majestic City Retreat Hotel, a 4-star hotel with 262 rooms located in Dubai, asked his Account Manager Sacha Sebaoun-Chauvain. The solution? Offering free room upgrades to our Level 2 and higher Genius members.
Adding a competitive edge
“Varun was tired of lowering the hotel’s rate in hopes of capturing more demand, especially since they already have a lot of discounted rates active,” says Sebaoun-Chauvain. “They wanted to look at solutions beyond discounts that could further attract guests. Offering a Genius free room upgrade empowered them to drive deeper value without dropping their rates.”
“One of the main reasons for me to offer free room upgrades is to add another competitive layer,” confirms Raj. “It’s not always about the price for customers, and they’re not only booking a property for the rate. They also care about the additional incentives and value they get, and that’s an important realization that being a part of Genius has taught me.”
This promotion is exclusively available to Genius Level 2 and higher members who have completed at least five stays in two years. These are our higher-value bookers, who are likely to spend more and cancel less. “I recently had a meeting with Sacha where we discovered about 75% of our bookings on Booking.com come from Genius members,” says Raj. “This is extremely valuable because the average spend of these guests at our property is higher than our regular guests.”'Offering free room upgrades to top tier Genius members adds an extra layer of value on top of the existing programme benefits.'
How Genius benefits your business
Highlighted in every step of the customer journey through visual indicators, Genius has become a program bookers seek out and respond to. “Being part of the Genius program gives us better visibility,” confirms Raj. “We could never reach the level of visibility the hotel gets without the Genius program.”
Genius rewards are proactively promoted to customers, so all partners who opt in to the program automatically benefit from those marketing activities. “I always ask partners if they ever booked on Booking.com themselves,” says Sebaoun-Chauvain. “Try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think about what would attract them to your listing. Chances are it’s because they see extra value in booking your property. Genius is recognized worldwide by travelers who know when they see the badge, they’ll be getting great value.”
Additionally, Genius drives loyalty, helping properties attract returning guests. “In the competitive environment of Dubai, we want to ensure we have loyal guests who come back to the hotel again and again,” says Raj. “Genius has helped us attract those returning guests. It’s very important for properties of all sizes to understand retaining loyal customers is key, especially during recovery.”
Unlocking additional value with free room upgrades
Offering free room upgrades to top tier Genius members adds an extra layer of value on top of the existing program benefits, helping partners stand out even more. The free room upgrade promotion is showcased to customers through dedicated tagging, creating even more visibility throughout the customer journey. For the Majestic City Retreat Hotel, offering this combination resulted in search result views increasing by 81% in comparison to other accommodations in the area.
When activating free room upgrades, you have the flexibility to decide which room Genius guests will get upgraded to, which can help occupy rooms that would otherwise be empty while freeing up inventory that drives more bookings. After looking at the sales statistics and performance dashboards on the Extranet, Sebaoun-Chauvain and Raj discovered that the hotel’s standard room, the economy double room, was driving almost 70% of all sales while the premium room was only driving 10% of the sales. Since offering free room upgrades, this percentage increased and the premium room now accounts for 40% of all sales.
Additionally, combining Genius with value adds like free room upgrades can further increase conversions, Sebaoun-Chauvain notes. “If a prospective guest isn’t sure about a property but sees they get a free upgrade, it acts as an additional incentive and increases their chance of converting.”
- Majestic City Retreat Hotel was looking for ways to grow their value without further lowering their rates
- They started offering Genius free room upgrades, a promotion that’s exclusively available to high-value Genius members who have five or more completed stays
- Since offering free room upgrades in combination with Genius, the property has seen an 81% increase in search result views
- Offering additional value to Genius members can attract new customers and drive customer loyalty