Premier Inn enhances presence, increases rankings and drives more bookings with Yext
With over 700 locations and more than 60,000 rooms, Premier Inn is the United Kingdom’s largest and most popular hotel chain. "Our customers are the everyday travellers interested in great value and great locations, and a brand they can trust," explains Naz Mehrzad, Head of Acquisition. Though Premier Inn is an established UK hospitality brand, it is focused on keeping a fresh, innovative approach to providing its guests with a great experience. One such initiative was the launch of a new hotel format called hub by Premier Inn, which provides travellers with the opportunity to stay in digitally connected rooms in unbeatable city-centre locations at low prices. Premier Inn has also continued to focus on expansion opportunities, particularly in Germany.
Since Mehrzad is responsible for all customer acquisition by metasearch channels — including Google and TripAdvisor — he has become an expert on the customer’s digital journey. That journey is increasingly dominated by mobile. "Mobile is growing incredibly strong and has become extremely important to us." Since hyper-connected consumers are searching for hotels on the go, Mehrzad realises the paramount importance of digital presence and mobile engagement for the overall customer experience. "We have traditionally been focused on customer service and the guarantee of a great hotel stay experience. This has meant the consistency and the product are of extremely high value and quality for the price," recounts Mehrzad. "While we continue to take pride in that, recently we’ve come to realise our need to make sure the entire customer journey is consistent and engaging — not just while customers stay with us but also before and after, across all the digital touch-points."
Digital Knowledge is key to Mobile Engagement and revenue
It should come as no surprise that Google is a huge part of Premier Inn’s revamped digital marketing strategy. "Google is absolutely enormous in the UK, probably even more so than it is in the US. We generate the majority of our revenue via AdWords or search engine optimisation (SEO) through Google. In the last year and a half Google My Business for SEO has become a much more important part of that mix," shares Mehrzad. "Accordingly, we have been taking an active role in managing our Google pages." Google My Business links to Google Hotel Ads directly, which is a specific Google product for the hotel industry, similar to Google product listings and Google flight search. "Through Google Hotel Ads we can send pricing and availability and we can bid for position, but we can’t determine whether we appear," explains Mehrzad. "Google has always said managing your content on Google My Business should help with impressions, so making sure that the correct content is on that platform is important to us. Before Yext we were spending manual effort to make sure our presence was consistent and our locations, images, descriptions and so on were correct."
Mehrzad and his team had been managing Google My Business manually for about a year and they recognised their efforts were neither efficient nor sustainable. "It was time consuming making changes on a regular basis, and it was difficult managing all of our properties through Google My Business," recalls Mehrzad. "We had to think about how to keep doing things consistently, thoroughly and at scale. Correcting all our properties in Google My Business the first time required a fully dedicated resource and we knew we were going to have to keep correcting the information in the ecosystem. The problem wasn’t going away."
Mehrzad also realised that there is much more to digital presence than Google. Premier Inn needed to be controlling and updating its digital knowledge in other directories across the web. "We realised that if we were going to increase our ranking further, we needed to guarantee consistent information everywhere, not just on Google. We thought we needed to look at Apple Maps, Bing and Yelp and establish similar relationships with these sites," says Mehrzad, "but then Yext came on my radar." The Yext Knowledge Engine enables brands like Premier Inn to manage the digital knowledge about their people, places and products across their websites, mobile apps, internal systems and the entire Knowledge Network — over 100 maps, apps, search engines, GPS systems and social networks including Google, Apple, Facebook, Bing and Yahoo.
Clean data for better results
Initially, Premier Inn launched 350 of its U.K. locations with the Knowledge Network, including Yext’s Google My Business management services and the platform’s patented Enhanced Content capabilities. Yext’s platform helped Premier Inn bolster its presence throughout intelligent search, adding 4,840 listings which account for 55% net new listings. Yext swiftly updated 16,539 addresses, correcting the 73% pre-Yext launch address error occurrence. Yext has also enabled Premier Inn to add enhanced content, including over 16,000 website URLS, 100,000 logos and photos and 26,000 business descriptions. This massive overhaul of Premier Inn’s digital knowledge helped the hospitality brand achieve an increase in local search impressions.
Online reviews critical for customer engagement
Premier Inn places great importance on its brand reputation and customer satisfaction. In light of this, Premier Inn made use of the Yext Knowledge Engine to monitor reviews across social sites like Facebook and Yelp. Yext’s platform pulls in all online reviews posted about each hotel location in real time and it then feeds the reviews into one comprehensive dashboard where Premier Inn’s marketing team and local hotel managers can monitor their customers’ social engagement easily and respond directly from the platform. "Not only do we want to resolve customer issues, but we also want to leverage the information to improve our operations," adds Mehrzad.
Indeed, online reviews remain a vital element of the customer search and decision process for Premier Inn and the hospitality industry at large. In fact, studies show that 77% of travellers usually or always reference reviews when choosing a hotel, 80% of travellers read an average of six to twelve reviews before booking a hotel1 and a whopping 53% of travellers will not commit to booking until they read at least one or more reviews.2 Notes Mehrzad, "Although we came to Yext originally for its presence management solution, we were pleased about how the platform could help us improve our review monitoring process to create an even better customer experience."
Mehrzad subsequently expanded Premier Inn’s Yext partnership to incorporate social pages into the solution, Facebook location Pages in particular. "Our Yext team actually put Facebook listings on our radar, which was fantastic because it’s been an unexpectedly large area of engagement for us," says Mehrzad.
Premier Inn happy to have a true partner for the future
Looking ahead, Premier Inn is focused on leveraging its digital knowledge to improve impressions, views and clicks — and ultimately drive more bookings across its hotels. "Yext provides the essential foundation for the public facts about our brand and make sure that our hotels always appear in local search, which helps our Google Hotel Ads perform well, which in turn drives our revenue." Mehrzad and his team are just as pleased with the quality of the Yext team as they are with the actual technology. Reflects Mehrzad, "I’ve been really impressed thus far. I think the calibre of individuals at Yext is first rate. They are incredibly responsive and intelligent, second to none."