With the rise of multi-channel marketing opportunities, hotels have increasingly varied channels for generating online bookings. Your website should be central amongst these methods, as the hub of all hotel-related activity and the home of your hotel website booking engine
. How can you ensure that among your hotel distribution channels, your website is the strongest tool? Read on to find out a few key actions to take to make this a reality.
Understand Your Target Market
Understand that different market segments have different requirements, different types of web browsing and both online and offline methods of booking accommodation. Decide which particular market or markets you are seeking to target, and take a proactive approach to selecting relevant hotel distribution channels
. This will help you optimise your marketing to suit each audience type at different stages of the buyer journey. Early bookings are often generated directly from your website booking engine, whilst late bookings may be more difficult to plan for, but often result in higher revenue.
Use SEO to Your Advantage
It’s vital to ensure your website stands out from the competition. Establishing a solid SEO strategy will help you to generate not only traffic, but the right sort of traffic, to your website – and maximize booking potential for the future. Consider taking out paid social advertising or PPC (pay per click) at key times of the year to drive an increase in room reservations.
Optimise Your Social Networks
Ensuring you consistently engage with your customers via your social channels is one of the best ways to achieve the trust and repeat custom of those who have a vested interest in your accommodation. If they’ve followed you on social media, they already know a little about you and are interested in either making a first time booking or a repeat visit. Either way, this is a great way of building the sort of brand loyalty which leads to both outcomes.
Build Your Direct Booking Strategy
Focusing on direct bookings should be a central facet of your hotel distribution channel strategy. There are many reasons for this, including alleviating your reliance on online travel agents and third-party websites. There is also the potential for far greater profit margins as a result of removing the hefty commission these channels often require in return for publishing your hotel. Ensuring your website is fully optimised for handling bookings of all kinds – with a mobile friendly design– will go a long way towards preventing loss of business due to poor usability.
Keep Your Booking Engine Simple
Your booking engine should be fully integrated into your existing web design. Whilst ‘add-ons’ and customization of bookings is great, the overall effect should be easy to use and crucially, secure. Let user experience drive all of your efforts to create a solid online presence which places your website at the very forefront of your efforts.