Ultimately, for your hotel business to succeed, you need bookings. However, as we all know, the most money can be made if you’re able to boost the number of these which are made directly, rather than going through an online travel agency (OTA) or other booking engine. So you know what you need to do – but how are you going to achieve this?
Well, you won’t be able to get every customer to book with you directly, as some look just at cost as a deciding factor. OTAs offer rooms with the maximum amount of discount and the lowest number of facilities. For some people, this is enough – and you won’t be able to change the mind of every consumer. However, there are certain things that you can do that will boost the number of direct bookings that are made, and allow you to see an increase in the profit that you make from these bookings. So what should you be doing to boost direct bookings?
Be accessible to guests wherever they are
Your guests will fall into one of two categories – they’ll either spend hours agonising over which hotel to choose, or they’ll book there and then with whoever is easiest. Whichever category they fall into, you want to make sure that you’re accessible to all potential guests online. More people than ever are searching for hotels on mobile devices. So, if your website isn’t mobile-optimised, you’re basically driving away potential guests. Not to mention the fact that Google now penalises these websites, so you probably won’t be coming up in search results anyway. Google research shows that travellers spend an average of 55 minutes booking a hotel and flights, visiting an average of 17 websites and clicking on four different search ads. Of these consumers, 90 per cent will conduct their research and booking process on multiple devices. With this in mind, you need to know that whatever type of device a customer is using to make a booking, you’re not creating any barriers that will cause them to go to your competitors.
Show that your hotel is unique
On the surface, many people won’t be able to see the distinct differences between your hotel and your competitors’. Your hotel undoubtedly has unique qualities though, so make sure that you’re showing these off. When you choose the content to be included on your website, blog and social media profiles, make sure you think about who your target audience is, what unique quality you can offer them and why they will want to book with you. As well as showing these unique qualities, show that your hotel has a unique personality. Instead of just pushing hotel information and sales pitches out on your blog posts, try to create content that will add value to your guests. Think about nearby events, attractions, bars and restaurants that you could write about, as well as images and infographics that could help someone to make the decision to visit the destination where you are based. If you’ve convinced them that they will want to visit your destination, they’ll almost certainly look to you to actually make their booking.
Of course, you need to make sure that your website has all of the information that a customer could need to make the decision to book. However, the phrase “a picture speaks a thousand words” is still relevant. Make sure that you have a bank of top-quality images that shows potential guests what your hotel is really like. In addition, encourage people to share images on social media – perhaps even including an incentive for doing this. A small competition, such as free cocktails during their next visit, can really encourage people to share images – and it gives you a great variety of images to use. These are also a great way to grab the attention of people on social media. As consumers scroll through their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds, it’s easy for you to get lost in the noise of the millions of brands. However, a stunning image can make someone stop scrolling and have a look, which could be the thing that will convince them to visit your website and then make a booking.
Just these small changes to your marketing strategy can really boost your direct bookings, which will improve the reputation of your hotel. This, in turn, will mean that more people will come to you for bookings.