The early days of the COVID-19 crisis have exposed shortcomings among big actors in online distribution (such as OTAs), especially regarding reimbursement in the event of force majeure. The subpar handling of this exceptional situation has caused newfound distrust among many users, who are now likely to seek out alternatives when booking their next trip. Thus, the grasp hegemonic actors held over the market was damaged loosened, leaving room for hotels to establish a new and more diversified online sales strategy.

Whilst many hotels used to rely mainly on OTAs to cover their online sales, the COVID-19 outbreak has shaken the foundations of this status-quo, leading hotels to adopt a multi-channel approach to distribution. Indeed, one of the biggest winners coming out of the crisis are hotel websites, which have seen their traffic grow significantly, most notably due to safety-related measures (people wanting to double-check whether the hotel is safe or not) and the advent of local travel (people are more likely to know the hotel they want to stay at). In the post-COVID hospitality market, we predict that hotels' websites will no longer be left behind, but rather, will become one of the primary acquisition channels for hotels.

In order to take full advantage of those changes, hotels should seek to optimize their website wherever possible through a customer-centric approach. First, a good UX/UI is paramount to ensure your guests stay on your website and have an easy time accessing important information. Then, well-placed Call-To-Action (CTA) and conversion widgets can help to guide your users towards your booking solution. Finally, the booking experience should be well-thought and entertaining in order to avoid losing your guests and improve your conversion rate as much as possible.

There exist many online tools to help hoteliers enhance their websites and subsequently optimize their direct booking strategy. PrivateDeal is one of those solutions, providing an innovative smart negotiation system for hotels in white brand format. The platform is an all-in-one solution that accompanies users every step of the guest online journey, from the home page all the way to the final booking screen.

PrivateDeal appears as a dynamic, attention-grabbing widget on hotel websites, which invites users to give their own price for a room or a package. In response to each guest offer, a smart negotiation algorithm powered by AI will either accept the price or negotiate it further until an agreement that suits both the hotel and the guest is reached. On the one hand, the platform provides a unique booking experience by keeping guests constantly involved via the negotiation process. On the other hand, PrivateDeal allows hotels to increase their direct bookings (without violating rate parity clauses), boost data collection, and optimize their revenue management through a demand-driven approach.

In the context of COVID-19, PrivateDeal also adapted its services to match new guest expectations. Most notably, following the advent of local travel, the solution now allows hoteliers to sell rooms in day-use (for office work for example) as well as ancillary services (SPA, gym accesses …), to boost their revenues. Moreover, whilst most hoteliers currently struggle to identify the right room rate to adopt amidst the current crisis, PrivateDeal provides the price users are willing to pay for each room category and for each date. This allows revenue managers to better pilot their pricing strategy in these uncertain times.

About PrivateDeal SA

PrivateDeal SA is a Swiss company created in partnership with Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne and providing a Smart Negotiation Solution for hotels. As a cloud based system setup directly on hotels" website, PrivateDeal allows guests to propose a price for a stay in response to which it will either accept or negotiate the offer through an AI-powered algorithm. The platform assists hoteliers in increasing direct bookings while better monitoring their pricing strategy through a demand-driven approach.