Most frequent travellers have certain hotels in their frequent visit list. However, ask them if they use the hotel’s website to make bookings and you will see a blank expression on their face.
It isn’t their fault. In a world where online travel agencies (OTA) and online booking websites drive maximum transactions, hotels are finding it difficult to encourage customers into booking directly through their website. Since most OTAs provide a list of different options based on location, price and amenities provided, customers are driven to them more easily.
To attract customers into booking directly, hotels have to set themselves apart from OTAs through incentives and unique deals. The solutions to help hotels increase direct booking ranges from the use of technological aids like hotel management software, all the way to improving their online presence. Let’s see how direct bookings can also become the major revenue source for hotels.
Use Customer Data to Understand Key Features and Customer Segments
Data is the most valuable asset available for any business. For hotels, data accounts for information regarding profitable customer segment that make bookings frequently along with the service they require. A hotel management software can help you analyse this information with ease. Analysing your customer data will allow you to formulate relevant marketing and sales efforts for generating direct bookings.
Expand your Presence on Metasearch Engines
According to Techopedia, a metasearch engine like TripAdvisor and Trivago gives results based on a combination of factors from other search engine databases. An increasingly large number of online users are flocking at metasearch engines to view results across different pages and the number of users will only grow as time passes. Since Online Travel Agency’s (OTA) are trying to stay visible on these platforms through website optimisation and data analytics, it is important for hotel websites to do the same unless they wish to lose direct bookings. Use meta search engines to feature your hotel website and optimize it further to ensure that its searchability and presence is within the top 10 results.
Optimize your Website
Setting up a website has become a must for any business seeking a larger presence. Website domain providers like Wix, GoDaddy and BigRock have made it simple to setup a website quickly.
Just having a website isn’t enough for a hotel. In a world where internet is consumed through smartphones primarily, it is important for the website to be mobile optimised for ubiquitous presence. According to a survey, companies with mobile optimised sites triple their chances of increasing conversion rates to 5 percent or more.
Additionally, use keywords in your website content that will attract your target audience easily. Create customer personas based on their preferences in terms of hospitality and think of keywords that they would use to search for hotels. Use such keywords so that your customers are routed towards your webpage easily.
Create Visually Appealing Content for Marketing
It’s a no-brainer that visual content scores better with customers. According to Hubspot:-
- Tweets with images receive 150 percent more retweets than tweets without images.
- Facebook posts with images get 2.3 times more engagement than posts without images.
Appealing visual marketing strategies will not only help attract more customers, but also increase the chances of higher lead conversions. That’s because visual content is not only the most popular method of content consumption online, but it’s been proven that customers are likely to associate with it more. That’s why tutorial videos and infographics are so popular in every company’s marketing strategy.
Take the example of Make My Trip, whose total views on YouTube has surpassed 150 million. This number is a lot more than their views and engagement on conventional textual posts. Similarly, hotels can also upload pictures and 360-degree views of their best rooms, lobby space, dining halls, etc. An immersive visual experience will enhance their website experience. This further increases the chance of engagement and subsequently makes direct bookings more acceptable.
Booking Abandonment? It’s an Opportunity
Are customers visiting your webpage, filling details but not going through with the booking? Is that something that’s commonly happening? This is an opportunity to look at pain points that customers might be facing while visiting your hotel’s website and making bookings.
Navigate through the customer’s journey on the website. What rooms were they looking at, what features did they show interest in. If they left their contact information, call them or write to them, and address their concerns. If they are concerned about room prices, offer a discount on direct booking. You can also offer a free chauffeur service when they arrive and/or free breakfast/meals to lure them to book through the website. This sort of personalised problem-solving experience goes a long way in building customer relations.
Offer Loyalty Programmes on Direct Bookings
Loyalty programmes reward customers through redeemable points, vouchers and cashbacks in order to encourage their positive response. Incentivise your customers by offering them subscription to a loyalty programme or a club membership, should they book directly on the hotel website. Your hotel should not only offer guests certain offers and discounts on their stay, but also if they visit their partner restaurants, spas, etc. Give your guests a fully comprehensive experience that rewards them both within the hotel and outside of it.
Leverage Guest Reviews
Most people on the internet value reviews posted by other users while browsing products and services. Feature the positive reviews given by your previous customers on your website to create a positive word of mouth. Building a positive online reputation will help create a strong image in customers’ mind.
Ask your previous guests what they liked and disliked about their stay in their review. Remember that you are likely to receive some negative feedback along with positive responses. Instead of avoiding and hiding them, consider them as an opportunity to improve your operations. Guest reviews will give potential guests a more in-depth idea of your service quality. If your customers see that you can acknowledge your positives and negatives, it builds authenticity which leads to a positive brand reputation. Furthermore, the more invested they become, the more likely they are to make a booking through your website.
Use Value-Added Packages to Drive Bookings
Most OTAs don’t allow hotels to provide lower rates on their own websites. This makes direct bookings particularly difficult for hoteliers. In such cases, instead of offering a discount on stay prices, provide unique booking add-ons on your website that aren’t available to customers while booking through OTAs. For example, offer perks like complimentary meals or a discount on products in the room’s mini-bar. Advertise these benefits on your website to encourage direct bookings.
Use these 8 ways to increase your hotel’s direct bookings. Did we miss an important way to increase bookings? Don’t be a stranger and let us know in the comments below.