The hospitality industry is booming due to the increasing demand of consumers every single day. And a cumulative number of direct booking can be a rewarding and challenging task for hotelier at the same time. Due to the continuous evolution of third party booking websites, it has become crucial for hotels to focus on maintaining the right balance between OTAs and direct bookings.
Have you ever wondered what OTAs do that increase their conversion rate? What did they do to make their online presence so well felt and received? Why are they so prosperous in obtaining bookings? And why can you never appear to accomplish the same with your own direct bookings platform? Fact is, OTAs invest million dollars on research and development. Moreover, they run tests and use two-way mirrors to read the users mind while using the website.
We are not asking you to spend such a huge amount on testing and installing two-way mirror in order to watch your visitor’s eyeballs. In order to bring customers directly to their website or applications, hoteliers must comprehend the need to innovate. This will help in cultivating loyalty as well as revenue in long-term.
Here are some ways to boost your hotel’s direct bookings:
• Mobile Friendly, Fully Functioning and the Platinum Rule, Usability
Nowadays, people view your website on different devices including iPhone’s, Tablets, Android phones and others. Of course, the large OTAs expend millions on evolving mobile specific apps in order to make customers experience as good as it can be. But, there are other ways around it.
One of the best things you can do is to make your site responsive. You should ask website developer to make sure that your site is adaptable, accessible and usable on as many platforms as possible.
Furthermore, you need to worry about the most used browsers such as Chrome, Opera, Safari, Internet Explorer & Edge, and Firefox. Plus, usability is the key to success. Do you know what usability is and why it is crucial? Why you have to spend money on something that is quite outspokenly? Fact is, usability is necessary for online website survival. Here are some cases when people leave your website without performing any action:
- If your website is difficult or confusing to use.
- When users get lost on your website.
- If the homepage fails to elucidate what a company offers and what visitors can do on the website.
- Sometimes the website’s information is hard to read or doesn’t answer customers’ key questions.
Consider the above points while making a user-friendly website. No one devotes time to navigating a website which seems difficult. Why? Because there are a lot of other websites offering the same services available. Hence, leaving is the first line of protection when patrons face trouble.
• Visual, Simple, Less is always Good
Have you ever notice a successful, overachieving website or OTA (Online Travel Agency)? These websites are simple, visually attractive and clean. And this is as important as usability itself. Want to know why? This is because if your website is geared up for a great user experience but you have made overuse of bright colors and/or too much information is given, then predict what, they leave.
So how you can make sure that doesn’t happen? Prosperous brands or businesses have one thing in common i.e. they are simple in design and theme. Hence, it is crucial that you ponder about how and why you want to add something in the design. Plus, also focus on giving short and useful information to your visitors.
When people come to your landing page, they want quick answers. In fact, they just want to know where to click in order to make a booking. And they do not need huge information about you, hotel and the entire history. Thus, using visual, simple and less information is what you should emphasize on.
• Take Advantage of What OTAs Offering
We all know that OTA’s can offer us bookings. Online Travel Agencies have a good customer base and people across the world use them to book hotels on a daily basis. So, OTAs can offer you bookings. They can help you keep your occupation full, but is it really worth it? Is there any other alternative? The big players in the OTA market such as Trivago, Expedia etc. are well established and famous. Still, new OTAs are continuously emerging on the market.
These new Online Travel Agencies are doing what they can to break down the Duopoly of the OTA market. And making things a little easier for the hoteliers. Many agencies today making money from subscriber rather than hotels. They also offer a free direct link to your booking website. This is a great way to drive traffic to your booking page and increase the conversion. So, for what you are waiting? Take advantage of what OTAs offering to the hotel and make a huge profit.
• Points and Rewards
It is a great way to increase your conversions. When people visit your website they would love to have incentives to return again. Today, there is an enormous rise in the use of constancy cards. This is somewhat that can be done through the booking page or via an email after the booking is confirmed. What does this mean? It means that individual comes to your page, they take a look on available rooms and on the restaurant menu as well. But didn’t book the room. What should you do then?
The best way is to set up an automatic email so when the visitor looks at the restaurant menu but not booked, it will send them an email to offer them a discount at the restaurant. The same mantra can be applied to the booking page. For instance, if people look at rooms and do not book, they receive an email offering them a discount on booking room.
When individual book a room, they can get an email offering them a chance to take benefits of a loyalty card which give them a heavy discount someway or even a free night stay after so many bookings have been made. It is a great way to automate the process of sending proposals to individuals and increasing the conversions.
• Social Proof if the King of Online World
Social proof is a cumulative phenomenon and has become more significant in marketing and sales as a whole. So, what is ‘social proof’? Let’s explain it with an example: Many online businesses have managed to make themselves the number 1 on the Trusted Business Reviews website.
Are you wondering how did they do this? Social Proof. Yes, you read it right. Business persons post pictures of their restaurant or hotels and ask people to write reviews in order to generate interest of others. This work over a period of months with Facebook posts and reviews until the businesses become the most desired place.
Do you want to increase your conversion on direct booking? Take some pictures of people eating in your hotel or people attending an event in the hotel. Post the pictures across social media platforms and get friends, family, and visitors to comment on the pictures and share them on the Trusted Business Reviews website. Doing this will accumulate people interest in your hotel and drive traffic to your booking page.
• Blog It
A blog has become such a great way to market your hotel. What happened? Not to worry if you haven’t read or write a blog till now. A blog is just a collection of personal thoughts and feelings. You can post the blog on anything. For instance, a blog about food, other services in your restaurant. Or write about local events. With this option, you can also consider including links to official pages for the events.
This way you can upsurge your revenue by striking a deal with them to give you a promo code so when you bring custom their way, they pay you a commission on the business you bring them. Offer a discount to your customers who decide to go there. Perhaps a free drink or free entry to local clubs etc.
In this modern era, you actually need to think outside the traditional hotelier model and start pondering like a marketer. A blog is a good way to truly get creative and give yourself the opportunities to include backlinks etc. in your blog posts which will upsurge your Google rating and drive more and more traffic to your site. If you publish your posts on your own site and also somewhere else then you increase the views and therefore increase traffic.
In the technological world, if you want to lead in the hospitality industry, it is essential to cope up with the changing trends. In fact, making bookings directly through your own website is the key factor for long survival in this competitive hospitality industry.
Even the smaller restaurants or hotels with the right focus on creating a user-friendly website, offering discount, blogging etc. reduce dependency over third party OTAs by a substantial margin. These tips will help to increase your conversions on direct bookings. Have you tried any of these methods and seen an increase in your hotel’s direct booking. We would love to hear. Let us know!