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Triple Threat:
The Importance of Hotel Facebook Page Design;
Lowering Your Commission Payments to OTA's and
Top 5 Reasons for Hotel Mobile Websites



by Pedro Colaco
August 2011

The Importance of Hotel Facebook Page Design

While your hotel’s website is your best sales representative, your hotel’s facebook page is your best Public Relations representative. Therefore, it is critically important to arm your hotel facebook page with the proper tools to engage your facebook fans. Below are five simple tips to turn your facebook page into a successful PR machine.

5 Tips for a strong hotel facebook page

  • Designing the page differentiates from competition: For obvious reasons the most visible characteristic of a hotel facebook page is the logo, as the hotel page design is facebook’s. Display your logo in an unexpected way. Provide a strong hotel overview page that’s both informational and fun. When creating your new hotel facebook page ensure that it reflects the colors, textures and the experiences that the property offers but also matches with facebook’s style.
  • Tagging photos spreads the word: Studies indicate that images are the second factor right behind pricing in terms of influencing the choice of property to stay in. With today’s technology, taking a good picture is easier than ever. Facebook is great at sharing pictures and engaging users – every day 100 million photos are tagged on facebook. So, ask your guests if you can take pictures with them, then tag them on facebook. Your property will be seen by many of their friends.
  • “The Hotel” menu item engage users: Having an easy-to-use and user-friendly navigation on your hotel facebook page is a decisive factor for how engaged your visitors are going to be. Bad navigation and usability can lead to visitors abandoning your facebook page. Keep it simple. Don’t try to overwhelm people with lots of options: 3 or 4 menu items are enough: hotel overview, rooms, special offers and a map are probably enough.
  • Promotions and sweepstakes stimulate visitors to come back: It is important to provide social incentives to website visitors so they choose your property over the competition. Creating special offers on your facebook page and offering sweepstakes will create a loyal following. Also, it can help you sell distress inventory in a way that it doesn’t cannibalize your regular sales and you can optimize your search engine ranking by offering fresh content on the website.
  • What happens on facebook, stays on facebook: In most facebook pages, there is very little “spillover” traffic to the hotel website. Hence, you should provide directly on your hotel facebook page the ability for travelers to check rates and availabilities for the travel dates, and book. Moreover, many travelers nowadays have flexible dates and are actively bargain hunting and willing to trade off some convenience for a better price or package. Make sure your calendar overview displays a longer-term view of the rates and availabilities so travels can choose the perfect vacation or business trip according to their needs and possibilities.


Lowering Your Commission Payments to OTA's

Whether in the US, UK or Spain the lay of the land for 2011/2012 is pretty homogeneous. The good news is that by far and large the occupancy crisis of 2009 and 2010 seems to be behind us.

While hoteliers are grateful that OTAs like Expedia and booking.com saved the day in 2010, hotel managers are growing increasingly annoyed about large commission checks paid to OTAs on a monthly basis. The consensual opinion is that OTAs are focused on driving competition and lower prices. Hence, hotel managers are increasingly looking for solutions that help them capture most of their revenue directly on their own websites.

Five rules for increasing direct bookings and decreasing commissions to OTAs
  • Display a modern website. Many properties have built their websites before 2008 and feel that they are still appropriate. Think again: a website built in the beginning of 2007 means that your website is now four years old, but more importantly it was built before there was Kayak, the Google Chrome web browser, the iPhone, Android smartphones or the iPad. Probably it’s due for a refresh…
  • Display great photos of your hotel experience. Add video if you can. While price continues to be the #1 reason for booking, photos are #2. So ensure that your website has large banners that display the experience at your property and the surroundings. Ensure to show large pictures of the rooms and bath rooms. If you don’t display them on your site, consumers will look for them somewhere else. And if you have access to some video footage of your hotel use it and abuse it.
  • Make it easy to book. One of the top reasons why OTAs still play a very significant role in hotel distribution is because many hotel websites don’t instill the confidence to book. Many hotels still have complex multi-step booking engines with pop-ups (!) which make any sophisticated user abandon. To increase direct bookings hotels must offer availability maps, rate calendars and a simple booking process so that consumers are not driven back to OTAs and high commission costs.
  • Embrace tripadvisor. Whether hotel managers like it or not over 70% of consumers booking hotels rely on tripadvisor for anonymous advice on their property. Hence, it is critical to embrace tripadvisor and work tripadvisor comments.
  • Offer exclusive deals on your site. OTAs have been on a “rate parity” crusade for the last few years. But rate parity does not mean that your hotel’s offering needs to be the same on all channels. You can still reward consumers for early booking or becoming a facebook fan or twitter follower. Driving direct bookings with special offers will increase loyalty and drive referral sales on your hotel’s website.
In summary, while occupancy rates are recovering, hotel managers are now going to focus on optimizing their marketing mix and will be looking for ways to provide incentives for customers to book directly with the hotel. This can be easily achieved with a modern website, great photos, an easy booking engine, good customer reviews and special offers.


Top 5 Reasons for Hotel Mobile Websites

With all the buzz surrounding mobile usage for travel, many hoteliers are wondering whether to adopt mobile as a component of their online strategy.
  • 19% of all hotel queries are mobile. Since November 2010 mobile traffic has been growing at explosive rates. In April 2011, mobile hotel website visits represented already close to 5% of total traffic. A blog post from Google on May 11, 2011 named Mobile Insights: 19% of hotel queries come from mobile devices highlights the need to deliver a mobile experience to mobile users.
  • Mobile traffic is growing exponentially month-by-month. Mobile devices like smartphones and iPads represent already 3% to 8% of visitors, and traffic is growing exponentially every month.The US is more advanced than the rest of the World. In our customer base, mobile visits in US hotels are close to 2:1 more important than in the rest of the World. Clearly the adoption of smartphones and flat rate data plans has been helping. The rest of the World still has to struggle with roaming charges.
  • 3% of mobile visitors engage the hotel. Hotel mobile websites generate an immediate return. A staggering 3% of all mobile visitors engage with the hotel in some way: many call the hotel or get directions to the hotel via Google Maps.
  • 1% of mobile visitors book. While mobile booking is still fairly new, especially for independent hotels, 1% of all mobile visitors actually book a hotel reservation once a mobile booking engine is deployed. Most hotels that deploy a mobile hotel website solution get a reservation within the first few days of deployment. So, return for a mobile solution is instant.
  • Mobile can be done in one tap. In today's market there are mobile solution where there is no extra effort involved. Your website content (text, photos, video) can be optimized for mobile delivery and mobile users can still experience your property’s look and feel, your rooms, and the experience in a big, bold way.
In addition, we also observed that about 75% of mobile users that show an intention to book, actually end up not entering the personal and payment information. This is a natural obstacle that time and adoption of secure techniques like displaying security seals in mobile applications will overcome. So, hotel mobile bookings are going to grow exponentially, and we can expect booking rates significantly higher than 1%.

So, if one out of 5 searches for hotels are from mobile, shouldn’t hotels be early adopters of a mobile-optimized experience for guests?

All resources provided courtesy of GuestCentric. For more information please visit: http://www.guestcentric.com/shortmovie/
 
Contact:

Pedro Colaco
President and CEO
GUESTCENTRIC
www.guestcentric.com/shortmovie
  196 Haviland Court
Stamford CT 06903
pedro@guestcentric.com
Phone/Cell: (203) 517-0721


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