Direct hotel bookings matter greatly to every hotel and accommodation provider. Not only do these help hoteliers achieve a healthy distribution mix between OTA bookings and direct bookings and have better control over their distribution costs, but these also provide something much more valuable than money – data. And, data is the most valuable asset in today’s digital world. Having access to the contact information and other precious data of the guests like preferences can help hotels build guest relationships and elevate guest experiences.
Due to so many benefits of direct bookings for the hoteliers, chances are you are already working toward driving direct bookings to your property. Here, we tell you some surefire strategies that you can implement to either kickstart or fuel your efforts toward boosting direct bookings:
1. Build an optimized hotel website
Optimizing your website for conversion is the first step to boosting direct hotel bookings. When a potential customer lands on your website, you should greet him/her with a frictionless experience. For this, your hotel website should be easy to navigate, visually attractive and user-friendly. A few key parts of having an optimized website are simple yet interesting content and quality images.
Besides this, responsive design that is optimized for multiple devices can help attract more bookings. trivago Industry Insights have found that smartphone bookings are seeing a steep rise, with almost 10% increase in proportion of bookings via mobile from 2017 to 2019. Thus, make sure that your website is mobile-friendly.
2. Have a call-to-action button
A very basic yet really essential addition to every hotel website is a call-to-action (CTA) button. Most of the hoteliers skip it altogether simply because they don’t realize its value. But a well-designed and a strategically-placed call-to-action button can be a game changer for you in your business.
The Daily Egg1 mentions, “CTA is not only a design fixture but a psychological event. Thanks to this button, conversions are made possible.”
To ensure reservations, make sure you have attractive CTA buttons at the right places with compelling copy. Based on what your customers are looking for, you can various CTA buttons, like ‘Find Out More’, ‘Contact Us’, ‘Book Now’.
3. Incorporate an efficient booking engine
According to a research published by International Journal of Business2, “Information technology and functionality of the hotel’s website in processing the booking efficiently is positively associated with the predictability trust the customer has on the hotel, thereby facilitating their online booking decision.”
Therefore, having an appealing and efficient booking engine is an indispensable addition to your hotel website to drive more direct bookings. Make sure that your online booking or reservation system has a seamless website integration that blends in naturally with the overall corporate style and the design of your hotel website.
4. Employ digital-marketing strategies
Digital marketing is hard to ignore in order to reach the target audience for any business and also, for hoteliers who want to outshine their competitors and OTAs. As a part of your hotel digital marketing, make sure that you have social media accounts on popular channels, especially Facebook. You can even go a step further and integrate your booking engine with your Facebook page. By letting your fans book directly from the social media page, you can turn lookers into bookers instantly.
Besides the social media presence, SEO is another very important area you need to master to gain higher rankings for specific searches. Your best bets will be to optimize your content and offers for location-based search and specific hotel amenity keywords.
5. List your hotel on a metasearch engine
Metasearch engines enhance your visibility and reach in the online market. Phocuswright’s study, Independent Lodging Properties and the Online Marketplace 2019 shows that hoteliers worldwide agree that metasearch and travel review websites are the most effective online marketing channels, with social media websites, search engine marketing, and Email campaigns following closely. The report also mentions that almost 63% and 57% of direct hotel bookings in the US and Europe respectively come from metasearch. Thus, metasearch is also very essential in driving direct hotel bookings.
Metasearch engines let you create your unique hotel profile, upload pictures, give information, and provide customized offers and competitive rates. While the results will show your listings on OTAs too (if any), studies show that people tend to book directly from a hotel website, given the price is same, lower, or not considerably higher compared with other listings. You can also give the visitors compelling reasons to book directly from you with the help of offers and freebies. Read on to know how you can create loyalty or thank-you programs for your bookers.
Thus, putting in efforts and time into ensuring high rankings on metasearch engines can increase your chances of direct hotel bookings significantly.
Promote your official websites rates to boost bookings
6. Reward your returning customers
In its Consumer Intelligence Series: Hotel Brand Loyalty, PwC3 notes, “Loyalty programs attract business and leisure travelers alike.” Thus, creating and implementing a splendid loyalty program is perhaps one of the most essential steps in ensuring victory in the booking war. It helps you engage and build long-lasting relationships with your returning customers to generate direct bookings as well as substantial lifetime value.
Make sure that your loyalty program has valuable and tangible benefits for the returning customers, like discounts on next bookings, free night/s on a package booking, free parking, free WiFi, or a welcome basket/amenity. However, your reward program need not only be limited to returning customers, but it can also be used to attract new customers. Introduce thank-you programs wherein you can reward people for booking with you. In your first-contact pitch, show the benefits of booking directly from you than through an OTA.
Whether it is a new or returning customer, advertise the benefits of registering for the loyalty program with the help of an email or a social media campaign, ask them to fill out a simple, straightforward questionnaire, and make the whole process simple.
There you go, a quick little guide to help you strategize and strengthen your online game to increase direct bookings on your hotel website.
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