Tshepo Matlou, Head of Marketing and Communications at Jurni

As the travel and tourism industry starts its recovery, the situation in which hotels and guest houses operate remains uncertain and dynamic. Understanding booking trends can help hospitality providers maximise their marketing campaigns and optimise their profits.

To this end, Tshepo Matlou, Head of Marketing and Communications at Jurni, shares the following five accommodation booking trends to anticipate in 2021

1. The ‘half tourist’

The ‘half tourist’ is the new industry buzzword. Nowadays, most people can work anywhere where they have access to a laptop and a stable internet connection. This is causing many to take advantage of this flexibility of location by taking trips to escape from home and enjoy a holiday, but still fulfil their work requirements.

Says Matlou, “Now is the time for hotels and guesthouses to market to the ‘half traveller’, promoting free Wi-Fi, high speed connections, beautiful in-room views, and access to comfortable working spaces at every opportunity. It is also a good idea to anticipate an off-peak surge in bookings as most ‘half tourists’ are likely to travel during the off season when taking leave from work isn’t all that common.”

“It is also a good idea to anticipate an off-peak surge in bookings as most ‘half tourists’ are likely to travel during the off season.”

2. Added value and flexibility

Everyone has felt the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, so it is understandable that travellers are keen to make the most of their limited budgets. This is leading many prospective clients to actively search for specials and value-adds.

Matlou adds that it is important not to devalue your brand by reducing your prices to boost affordability. Rather he encourages accommodation offerings to focus on improving your guest experience. This can include gestures such as a complimentary bottle of bubbly on arrival or a coupon to save on a local service.

It is important not to devalue your brand by reducing your prices to boost affordability. Rather, focus on improving your guest experience.

Another sought-after value-add is flexibility of bookings, so be mindful of how you can offer and best promote this.

3. Unstable traveller confidence

As regulations and restrictions surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic continue to change, so too will traveller confidence. With this in mind, hotel and guesthouse owners need to make sure they are always drawing on the very latest data and information to make predictions.

Matlou recommends using the Jurni booking tool to help guests book and pay for a stay, quickly and easily, on their mobile phone.

4. Ever-changing booking windows

Over the last 12 months, the booking window as we know it has both grown and shrunk simultaneously. This trend is expected to continue into the future, as travel restrictions continue to change.

Budget-friendly last-minute deals are driving a lot of bookings made only 0 – 7 days before a trip starts, which can make it hard for hotel and guesthouse owners to anticipate their earnings. However, Matlou points out that there are also plenty of prospective travellers who do not yet feel comfortable enough to embark on a trip yet, but who are planning to do so in the future, sometimes as far ahead as 2022. Accommodation providers need to try and cater for both extremes, as best they can.

5. Leisure over corporate

While both business and leisure travel are showing signs of recovery, the data highlights that people are more likely to embark on a holiday rather than a business trip. As such, hotel and guesthouse owners should adapt their marketing strategies to focus on attracting leisure travellers, at least for now.

The data highlights that people are more likely to embark on a holiday rather than a business trip.

Keep in mind that, currently, it is predicted that the recovery of business travel will take place in phases and may only reach 80% of previous levels.

In conclusion, Matlou recommends accommodation providers put their energy into enhancing guest experiences; making the booking process effortless; improving communication before, during, and after each guest’s visit; and prioritising health and safety above all else.

You can also visit jurni.co.za for more tips, advice and travel and tourism data to assist with your accommodation venue’s recovery.

READ: ATTA’s 2021 Travel Recovery SnapShot survey (March)