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What The Super Bowl Can Teach Hospitality Marketers

Now that the confetti has fallen and the fireworks have faded in celebration of Super Bowl LII, the smoke is starting to clear around exactly what happened in Minneapolis. Football teams, like a lot of professional athletes, are known for watching game tapes and turning to technology to evaluate their performance in order to learn and improve over time.

It also makes sense for marketers to take time to evaluate themselves, and company performance, when the stakes are this high.

A study by Arizona State University found that the 2015 Super Bowl, held in Phoenix, produced an economic impact of $719.4 million for the state of Arizona—and much of that came from fans eating at restaurants, staying at hotels, and renting cars to shuttle between sites.

Targeting travelers who want to book hotel rooms, rentals cars, and restaurant reservations can be difficult for marketers and brands. Teams from four different cities were in the running for the championship, leaving thousands of fans unsure of whether they should book their travel early or wait until the final teams qualified. It’s a scenario that repeats itself and begs the question, “What can marketers do to maximize their investments and drive revenue for their companies in such a short window of time?”

We looked at data across several years and found that while some fans book travel online, many turn to the telephone to talk to agents who can walk them through their travel options. In fact, a recent study by Forrester Consulting found that people who call a brand transact faster, spend more, and are more loyal. 

In comparing the average volume of calls in Houston (last year’s Super Bowl host) and Minneapolis (this year’s host), we found hotels in both cities saw large spikes in the number of calls they took ahead of their respective games. Brands in the Houston area saw a 56% increase over a typical weekend in 2017, and brands in Minneapolis saw a 52% increase in calls on the Friday before the big game. This is significant considering hotels receive an average of 85 calls on a typical Friday in January.


Source: Marchex

As other big sporting events, such as the NCAA basketball tournament and the NBA Finals, quickly approach, it’s clear that the Super Bowl isn’t the only opportunity for hospitality marketers to capitalize on last-minute travelers. Maximizing each phone call and having the right tools in place can help drive traffic to your business and secure more reservations as local competition heats up.

Here are some steps for success:

• Allocate budget for paid search: Do you rank among the best in your city? If not, ramp up your paid search campaign leading up to the big day. Adding a click-to-call number will help maximize inbound phone calls, ultimately leading to more reservations and improving the customer experience.

• Increase customer-service staffing: With spikes in inbound phone calls on the rise the week before game day, properly staffing your sales and reservations departments and call centers is key. Keep in mind call volumes tend to surge most one to two days prior to the event.

• Don’t leave customers waiting: Fifty percent of hang-ups occur when the phone rings four or more times, so it’s important to enforce a three-rings-or-less rule. Once your agents do pick up the phone, be sure they’re limiting hold times. Callers on hold for more than 90 seconds hang up 50% of the time.

• Incentivize direct bookings: Avoid paying commissions to popular last-minute travel-booking sites by authorizing customer-service agents to offer approved upgrades and discounted rates. By arming them with this information in advance, they can streamline the transaction for customers and drive more profitable bookings.

I’ll spare you the sports metaphor about building a great game plan and preparing for your championship parade—but the truth of the matter is that the economic opportunity is significant for those ready to leverage the influx of last-minute travelers and fans.

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