Interviews 3:40 Min read
Nacho Jacobo (BookingCore): “Direct sales will have great value for hoteliers”.
Nacho Jacobo has been an entrepreneur and partner in several Balearic technology and marketing companies for more than 20 years.
He is currently the director of one of these companies: BookingCore, a complete solution and a direct channel for the hotel sector.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that hotels face today?
The biggest challenge that hotels face on a day-to-day basis is to control their own price on the countless sales channels. Another, no less important one that hotels are not always aware of is their communication with their guests: their brand value.
We all know that users and their decisions are not based on price alone, but factor in other elements such as extra services, amenities, location … and this means we have to know exactly who our customers are, how the brand should speak to them, show them our values and advantages, who the competition is and what it is like … and work accordingly to convince them and earn their loyalty, which is why it is more and more important to obtain data on customers.
What advice would you give to a hotel for its direct and indirect distribution strategy?
It is important to see clearly who to rely on, not everyone is the same now. The truth is that you must go for the direct channel without question, and then analyse the other channels carefully to add those which add value and above all offer real, good quality visibility.
What myths about sales channels are you tired of hearing?
There are several of these, but one is very special for us: “You cannot have a Best Price on my web because Booking.com will contact me and, in the end, they are the ones who sell us.”
This is why we always mention the “Brave hoteliers” because in fact you can have your Best Price, if you add other true, tangible advantages when making the booking on your direct channel; you can have more flexible rates and of course you can promote your Brand, your hotel and your product, simply because it is yours.
Another fact is that Booking.com and other OTAs are a great shop window and can give you remarkable and much-needed visibility among users who do not know you and who are looking for a hotel, but then if you are “Brave” it is your duty to focus on direct sales and make the necessary efforts to carry out a good marketing plan: with actions such as PPC, Retargeting, Prospecting, Search Aggregators, Emailing, Content, Social Media, … to reach these potential customers, attract them, convince them, get their details, learn about them and get closer to them than any virtual agency can.
How important is a hotel’s web design in the booking process? What is the most common error you have seen in this regard?
Design is a priority for us, from the Home page, which has to attract and convince users, to the inside pages, which show and inform them, and the booking process itself. If we talk specifically about how users enter the booking process, we would say that it must be clean and orderly, should generate trust and not “make the user think twice”, after all, it is a financial transaction.
Information must be correctly ordered and the famous “call to action” (CTA) has to stand out. Any escape routes (navigation menus, footnote menus, newsletter subscriptions, …) must be reduced to a minimum and any element that is not relevant to the sale should be removed.
The booking should require few steps, and this is where a smart system that can guide users or help them past any issue to continue with the booking really helps, by always rapidly offering an alternative.
One of the most common errors made is to offer options that do not match what the user wants, including messages that confuse instead of helping … in general, “making them think twice” when the process ought to be much simpler.
Another common error is not to focus sales on the booking process. You should show only the sales factors clearly and simply. This simplicity makes it more agile, and the result is what we look for in an engine: speed.
What are the future trends for UX and UI design?
Every project we develop is a different story, and this is why every Web design starts from the ground up, is completely personalised for our clients, using their identity and image, their values and advantages, and their history.
The growing trend for user experience (UX) is the same as in previous years, Responsiveness, but in 2020 it will be of supreme importance, with no room for excuses. All the details of browsing, including forms, requests, weight, … are fully developed for mobile devices.
When it comes to appearance (UI), we can see the use of bright shiny colours and a shift towards simplicity, which is what we have always argued for. There is also a move towards asymmetric designs that stray a little from the grids and rectangles we have seen so far, then there is the use of large drawings or images that are balanced by oversized titles and texts, so we could talk of “balanced asymmetry”.
In the end, there is a search for balance between a web that attracts attention and breaks conventional moulds, but which is also perfectly optimised for the potential guest’s experience (especially mobile).
What do you think is the future for hotel distribution?
Without doubt, direct sales will have great value for hoteliers. If you look, the technology companies and agencies themselves have changed, becoming partners with hotels to help them in their own direct sales.
We are not just talking about hoteliers now, but hoteliers with tech partners who provide them with value and knowledge to convert their webs into their main sales channel.
This is why BookingCore insists on the importance of choosing this partner, because not everyone will do. It must be someone who can ensure that the technological transformation and connectivity matches the needs of your hotel and obviously those of your guests.
What is your advice for hoteliers who feel they have no control over the distribution of their hotel?
I would explain everything I said previously, to rely on themselves without question, understand their real values and who they are speaking to, to make a good marketing plan and get a true technology partner like BookingCore who can apply this plan, as the hub linking all the different parts, to control and analyse all the actions and have enough experience to adjust and improve them at any time in order to make the direct sales channel the main source of their sales.