How to create channelized room and rate descriptions
By Deborah MacDonald
The primary goal of room and rate descriptions is to convey what the product is and the competitive value of the product. While there are many approaches to writing room and rate descriptions, the most important consideration when creating the content is to understand the audience, as well as any formatting restrictions.
The first step however in creating any description is to identify the key features of differentiation that should be incorporated into the narrative:
- Room Description content - Should identify key elements and differentiators, e.g. bed type, size, view, amenity.
- Rate Descriptions – Should emphasize key inclusions, which may also be used as differentiator, e.g: wi-fi, breakfast, value adds such as waived resort fee etc.
- To note, when fee waivers are included in the offer be sure to identify the value associated along with the inclusions. Where breakfast is noted as an inclusion, at minimum, identify the type of breakfast.
The next step is to formulate how the content will display in the selected channel. As previously noted, each distribution channel has their own formatting requirements. Key insights to therefore consider:
- Readability – As descriptions do display differently in the various channels, keep the descriptive simple and easy to understand and to the point. For Example:
- Booking Engine – targets the consumer audience – use of html functionality enables bullet points to highlight/separate key benefits.
- GDS – predominantly targets the travel agent audience – restricted to text only with character and formatting limitations.
- Call Center – targets the reservation agent as a seller to the guest – written content should be simple to read to the guest
- Clearly identify the value – Lead with key feature(s) and then, as applicable, note any secondary benefits.
- Highlight differentiating factors - Lead with inclusions that separate one product offering from another.
- Avoid use of repetitive content - This confuses and irritates the reader.
- Ensure a break between the room and rate descriptive – In some channels the content of both descriptions is often merged.
- Lack of detail - Whether a room or rate description does the content clearly outline the benefits. Keep in mind that in the GDS, for example, there are no images associated to the products offered thus the description needs to “paint a picture” or entice a buyer without visual support.
- Content consistency – A consistent room and rate plan format supports content reliability and minimizes potential frustration and confusion.
When setting up room or rate descriptions, what is the best approach?
- Gather from your CRS/brand provider the latest best practices.
- Develop descriptive standards.
- Naming convention
- Structure of the descriptive
- Formatting, dependent on channel
- Ensure key variances and benefits are listed first and not buried in descriptive content.
- Clearly identify the value, even if it is just a “best available rate” for the accommodation only.
- Ensure display order has a systematic approach and reflects your pricing strategy. Traditional sequencing displays from low to high in value.
- Understand channel content limitations such as number of characters allowed, use of characters, etc. Tip – For character counting, use an excel form to upload content. Be sure to understand whether spaces are to be included in the count.
- Listen and engage - Reach out to the targeted audience (consumer, travel agent, corporate traveler, etc.) to reconfirm that the room type and/or rate descriptive speaks to fulfilling their needs.
- Utilize performance reports - Review both room type and rate plan performance results to determine which plans and room types are converting and where performance is low reach out to the respective audience for feedback as to what would make the offer more appealing or perhaps what detail is missing in the room type.
- Review and Update – As a minimum, on an annual basis, review both room and rate descriptive content. Incorporate current best practices and/or content related to market demands.
The ultimate goal is to increase conversion. Descriptive content which targets the respective audience by succinctly highlighting the key benefits/rewards will help drive conversion by eliminating any barriers related to not enough detail to make a decision/purchase.
At Premiere Advisory Group, our content auditing services include the evaluation of room and rate descriptions while providing constructive feedback and customized solutions based on current best practices as well as understanding the audience.