Even though managing a hotel is a tough job overall, reaching customers optimally and effectively is something hoteliers struggle the most with.
It’s got even more difficult for hoteliers in recent times to attract customers due to the advancements in technology and resulting shifts in consumer behavior and habits. In such a scenario, Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) hotels who have access to limited resources have been hit the hardest.
If you own an SME, one of the biggest challenges for you might be diversified distribution. In this article, we’re going to show how you can diversify your distribution by using must-haves of digital distribution – from basic solutions like website and booking engine to more sophisticated marketing solutions like social media and email – even on a minimum budget and workforce.
Partner with various OTAs
The majority of travelers nowadays look for and book their hotels via Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), thereby making OTAs the fastest-growing segment of today’s hotel industry.
It seems like an obvious choice to partner with OTAs for maximum profits, but it’s sadly not as straightforward as it seems. Hotels, especially SMEs, usually are not able to yield the best results as they have to pay huge commission fees to get bookings via OTAs.
However, working with OTAs can be truly profitable if you focus on optimizing your partnerships to ensure maximum return on investment. Let’s see how.
- First off, figure out which OTAs would be best suited for your location and your audience. If your hotel is at an underrated location, you can go for global OTAs that can make your hotel and destination stand out. Many OTAs also provide options to bid or opt for special functionalities that can help you have your listing on the top in the search results. This especially comes in handy when you want to attract adventure- or experience-loving travelers. On the other hand, if your hotel is at a popular location and you have high competition, you shouldn’t only partner with global OTAs but also with the local ones.
- Always partner with multiple OTAs to yield maximum results. This will reduce your dependency on a single channel and will diversify your distribution portfolio.
- Compare and track your results on different OTAs and use the data to further optimize your distribution, by adding new channels and removing the under-performing ones.
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Build your brand.com website
OTAs can be an important distribution channel, but they are no match for booking direct. According to a report by Kalibri Labs, “Direct bookings remain more profitable for the hotel industry — to the tune of 9 percent — and when factoring in ancillary spend, profitability can be almost 18 percent better.”
You don’t need highly sophisticated digital tools or technologies to drive direct bookings. Start with building a brand.com website. Next, we’ll explore the best practices for a hotel brand website.
- Your hotel website is a shop window of your property for travelers in today’s digital age. It should consist of attractive images displaying your property and destination. A supporting list of facilities and amenities available at your hotel will create a compelling case for your hotel. Have a simple yet inspiring design and an engaging description copy to delight guests and persuade them to book with you.
- While designing and creating the copy for your website, don’t ignore your ‘about’ section. In this section, you should tell your story – your passion for hospitality, values, history, and what drives you to provide the best guest experience. Without a story, you won’t have a brand. Your logo and tagline are also an extension of your story. See how you can tie all these different elements together while creating your brand story.
- Another basic feature of your website that you should pay special attention to is Call to Action (CTA) on your homepage. It’s one of the most critical parts of driving reservations. The most obvious choice is ‘book now’, but you can get more creative and have a CTA button that matches the theme of your whole website. Make sure that your CTA begins with a verb. Cvent suggests alternative CTAs, like ‘enjoy a complimentary stay’, ’explore a world of benefits’, and ‘learn more’.
- A booking engine will help your hotel accept direct bookings online through your official website. Have a fully optimized hotel booking engine that would enable your travelers to enjoy a simple, seamless, and secure booking experience.
Bring more travelers to your website
So, you have an amazing website to delight your guests once they visit you online. But what about attracting your potential guests to your website? You can catch the eye of your audiences via social media, metasearch marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and many other techniques.
- The right target audience for hotels is undoubtedly travelers. But you need to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all social media channel when it comes to reaching your target audience as not all types of travelers are on the same channels.
- When it comes to social media marketing, try to figure out the profiles of your travelers and which digital channels they might be the most active on. For example, if your target audience is business or bleisure travelers, your strategy should include LinkedIn. Alternatively, you should invest the maximum on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest if you’re trying to pull families and millennial couples and maybe, Snapchat for also attracting the Gen Alpha, which now influences the travel decision making within families.
- Following the right SEO practices on your website can ensure that your hotel brand is visible online. In addition to having SEO keywords in your copy, you should also take care of URLs and title tags. To know other best practices you can employ to boost your hotel website search engine ranking and increase your conversions, read this article.
- Another very crucial technique to drive more travelers to your website is getting listed at a metasearch. Phocuswright’s study along with trivago, Independent Lodging Properties and the Online Marketplace, mentions, “Satisfaction with metasearch as a means of doing business is high, so much so that 42% of independent lodging properties wish to make increased use of this channel for distribution in the future.” Metasearch is one of the best first steps that SMEs can take to diversify their distribution and drive direct bookings. trivago is a metasearch site that can help you reach millions of travelers looking for their ideal accommodation. Registering your property on trivago is simple and free.
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Featured image: Stocksnap on Pixabay