While planning a recent trip through North-Central Europe, I noticed a major opportunity for hoteliers to increase bookings and surpass their competition. By updating five high-priority areas of their hotel profiles, hotels can increase the number of bookings they receive online.
I’ve written them down in order of importance below. If time is an issue, feel free to tackle the first on the list now and get to the others when you have a spare moment.
Let’s get started.
The issue: Time and again I find major discrepancies among the rates offered on a hotel’s partnered bookings sites. I’m not talking about the kind of rate variation that makes a hotel more competitive online. I mean rates that are out of date and therefore inaccurate. When I call hotels to check, I find it’s because of a lag in the time it takes these booking sites to update the rates to account for seasonal fluctuations.
How to fix this: Rates change seasonally; we know this. And although many hotels post a chart stating high-, mid-, and low-season prices, they don’t do anything else to ensure that their current rates are always accurately displayed everywhere they appear. This is a big mistake and it’s costing hotels like yours business. Consider all of the possible ways guests may find your hotel online. Update those channels with accurate rates and continue to monitor and update them throughout the year.
Why: First, there’s the fact that inaccurate rates can cast your hotel in a bad light. Furthermore, most travellers searching for hotels on OTAs and metasearch sites filter their search results by price. Hotels with outdated rates may be excluded from the results. Make sure you always appear on the list of ideal hotel deals by showing up-to-date rates on all your hotel profiles and partnered booking sites.
The issue: It’s incredible how often hotels have availability issues when it comes to their online hotel profiles. Some seasonal hotels even neglect to update the booking sites they advertise on. This means they appear available when they’re closed or unavailable when they’re open.
How to fix this: Work with multiple sites and update your hotel inventory often so that travellers always know your current availability. If you notice that your hotel appears unavailable on a site, call to try and fix it.
Why: Accurate availability is an issue for many hotels. It’s especially an issue for those who only work with one booking channel or OTA, and are therefore dependent on a single source. That source also decides which hotels they want to show as available and when. Furthermore, if that one source has incorrect data, it’s even less likely that the hotel will appear with availability. So work with multiple sites and check your availability often to reduce the risk of human error.
3. Hotel images
The issue: It seems that many hoteliers create hotel profiles, upload images for the sake of having images, and then forget about them. These images are usually an inconsistent mix of old and new, high- and low-quality. This often deters travellers from booking, as they don’t know which images to rely on.
How to fix this: Stand out from your local competitors and build trust with travellers looking through hotel profiles online by adding images strategically. Only add high-quality, relevant, current images to your profiles. As soon as renovations are made to your property, update your images to reflect them.
Why: This will give online browsers the confidence they need in order to book their ideal hotel. And, when it comes to images, less is more if quality is at stake. Fifteen high-quality images are far better than 40 outdated and inconsistent hotel photos.
The issue: Some sites offer to write professional descriptions for hotels when the hoteliers create a profile on the site, which is a fantastic service. But many hotels don’t take advantage of it and write their own descriptions. The resulting texts are often less than enticing, not to mention confusing or deterring.
How to fix this: Check your descriptions as they appear on every site where you have a hotel profile. If you were a guest, would you be compelled to stay for a night or two? If the description isn’t captivating and well written—or worse, if it’s inaccurate—it needs to be rewritten. This blog post from Leonardo can help you.
Why: Guests need to be convinced that your hotel is the right one for them. They want to know how close you are to local attractions and major transportation and cultural hubs (concert halls, city-centres, etc.). They’re also interested in what makes your hotel special. Use your description to show them how your accommodations fulfill their needs.
5. Check-in/check-out times
The issue: This is a little detail that many hoteliers fail to pay attention to. Many booking sites have a default check-in and check-out time based on industry standards, and most hoteliers don’t think to change them.
How to fix this: Show a realistic check-in time on your hotel profiles. You may aspire to be open until 10:00 p.m. but find yourself closing up shop earlier more often than not. If this is the case, edit your hotel profiles to reflect an earlier time you know you can commit to. When it comes to check-out, consider offering a time that is both convenient for you and better than the competition’s, like noon or 1:00 p.m.
Why: It’s important that you’re true to the hours you advertise; nothing turns travellers off more than booking online and showing up to closed doors when they thought you were open until 10:00 p.m.
Are you guilty of neglecting your hotel profile? What do you struggle with most? Have another high-priority area that you think hoteliers should update? Let us know in the comment section below.