Recent research has found that one in six hoteliers believe their biggest problem is boosting direct bookings via their websites. But why? After all, how many independent hotels out there don’t have a website running 24/7, advertising their rooms and amenities and enabling potential guests to book direct? Very few. So what are they doing wrong? It’s likely they’re not focusing on what makes the difference; what truly makes or breaks their sites’ effectiveness. Here are three things they need to make a priority – and improve…
Become a storyteller – visually
By nature, people are hotwired to respond to storytelling – if your site’s not taking advantage of this you need to put that right immediately. How to do it? Through content. If you’re not aware, ‘content’ is marketing-speak for much that makes up the, yes, content of a website –page copy, blog articles and (in this case, especially) visuals, including images, videos and vines. The written word is the traditional tool for storytelling, of course; but visual content’s outstanding when it comes to storytelling online. That’s because it provides immediate, short bursts of highly consumable information of what your hotel offers, why it’s so great and, thus, why guests should stay there. It can pack a big emotional punch – and, lest we forget, emotion greatly influences purchase intent.
Did you know that more than eight of every 10 (81%) online travel bookings are abandoned before they’re completed? It’s a staggering and very troubling statistic for an independent hotelier who relies on their site to pull in bookings and achieve good revenue – away from bookings made through profit-reducing online travel agents (OTAs). How then to ensure your site isn’t among those making up that statistic? Simple; you need to optimise your booking process, so the customer is comfortably guided through it from start to finish and isn’t put off at any stage, abandoning it part-way through.
For instance, during the process, the website should only ask for the customer information that’s actually needed (as many as 10% of bookings are lost every time there’s an unnecessary form field). And be sure your site has an easy-to-use booking engine by deploying high-quality hotel reservation system software
– we advise you consult and use a digital marketing specialist like Digital Hotelier for this task; we know our beans!
The power of social proof
And finally, social proof. What is it? Well, it’s independent third-party feedback; so, yes, it’s what provides travel customers with the confidence to actually book a hotel room. We’re talking here the likes of reviews, ratings and awards highlighted on your site; reliable benchmarks that underline the quality of your hotel. Did you know that more than half of potential guests won’t book a room unless they’ve read that hotel’s reviews? That’s the importance of social proof, right there. And consider this – if you’re achieving better reviews than your rivals, you’re almost four times more likely to have guests choosing your property. Powerful stuff!