While online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Travelocity and Hotels.com are an important marketing component to a hotel, it’s crucial for property owners and managers to also utilize internal sources for revenue generation and to increase hotel bookings. Digital marketing offers amazing opportunities for properties of all sizes and shapes – from boutique hotels to all-suite resorts – to stabilize the booking field using leading marketing tools and tactics. We have a few ideas to help out.
Get Smart with Web Design
It’s not unusual for travelers shopping on OTA’s to visit the hotel’s website directly in order to learn more about what is offered. Well thought-out web design can help you capture those site visitors and get them to book direct. There are a couple easy ways to do this. First, provide a clearly visible “book now” button on every page. Next, use a booking engine that seamlessly merges with your website design to make the user experience as easy as possible. Lastly, ensure your website is optimized across all platforms – the last thing you’d want is to lose a customer because they were not able to book through their mobile device!
Harness the Power of Reviews
Let’s face it, we live in a review driven world, and you can harness the power of these reviews to increase hotel bookings. How? First off, when customers post reviews about your hotel, you need to try your best to answer as many as possible, whether they’re positive or negative. Sometimes potential customers are looking at how the hotel responds as much as the review itself. Never leave a review unresponded to. Next, curate and embed reviews on your website so prospects will easily them. Renown is a marketing platform that makes it easy to do just that (we are a certified partner). For an added boost, consider showcasing reviews on your website.
Love Loyalty Programs
A guest loyalty program is a rewards program offered by a hotels – and other companies – as a way to reward purchasing behavior. A loyalty program may give a customer advanced access special offers, promotions, and perks. And, believe it or not, is not exclusive to big brand hotels.
The good news is, as an independent property, you have more flexibility and freedom than a chain property program may be able to offer, and guests happen to love that. But, how do you get started? Offer sign up opportunities on your website, and sign up every guest.
Stay Engaged with Social Media
Social media platforms offer hotels an incredible opportunity to stay engaged with potential guests. Not only is social an excellent way for transparency (people like it when brands are “real”), it’s a way to encourage website click-throughs. You can share blog posts, photos and videos about your destination and property, and link back to relevant pages on your website whenever possible. Keep your guest personas and USPs in mind when creating social media posts for optimal engagement.
Social media platforms are also increasingly offering sophisticated technologies – such as Facebook Messanger app chatbots – which can really streamline your customer service, can allow you to personalize ads, be proactive in customer conversations and so much more! Check out these resources for setting up this exciting AI technology: HappyFox Chat or ManyChats.
Re-Engage with Remarketing
You can have the most amazing website in the industry, but there will always be abandoned bookings. Honestly, there is little you can do to prevent that. One way to bring prospects back is with remarketing. Remarketing is the process of getting back in front of a previously engaged audience — after all, you almost had them! A simple way to get started with remarketing is by adding special code to your website with Google AdWords or Facebook’s Custom Audiences. The code allows you to track website visitors who abandon booking, then you can set up customized ads triggered to be shown only to them, to bring them back. If Amazon can do it, so can you!
According to this research, if you offer exclusive incentives on your hotel’s website, chances are high you’ll increase the number of direct bookings you receive. In fact, that research states that “48% of people would most likely skip an online travel agent (OTA), like Expedia, and book directly if they received a free room upgrade”.
Go Visual with Videos
In case you have not already noticed on your Facebook feed, video is quickly claiming a massive amount of traffic, and trends are showing there’s no slowing down. Google found that in a six-month period, 35% of leisure travelers and 56% of business travelers engaged in travel-related video activities. Since video content is so easy to consume, hotels have an incredible opportunity to keep website visitors longer by telling them a story – you’re creating an online experience that will help you stand out.
Taylor Short, Market Researcher at Software Advice, a company that reviews property management systems for hotels shares this additional commentary:
“Direct bookings are more important than ever, especially for smaller hotels. When guests book directly, hotels have a chance to more closely engage with travelers, offer personalized service and boost loyalty. Traveler behavior is a tough thing to change; They’re so used to searching online travel agency sites because they believe that’s the only location to find great deals. This is an opportunity for small hotels to educate their current and future guests that they can find more value with compelling add-ons. They don’t cost the hotel much, but offer real value for guests.”
What You Can Do Today: Do a content audit of your website and email automations. Can you add a call-to-action in to book direct on each page? Is there an opportunity for site visitors to opt-in for exclusive offers? Explore review sites and make sure to respond to all reviews (good or bad), then put systems into place so that review response is an ongoing commitment. Take a look at your social media strategy to makes sure there is not only engagement but also regular sharing to your website (having a blog makes it easy to share fresh content). And, lastly, explore remarketing opportunities to re-engage with abandoned bookings.