From just 32% of domestic visitors booking their holidays online in 2007, the figure has risen to reach 76% in 2017. This is obviously great news for hotels who started their internet presence early, but for new businesses struggling with hotel marketing strategies
it can prove a difficult obstacle. They worry about missing out on profit shares if visitors should book through a third party website and worry even more about losing a potential guest to a rival.
However, both these fears can be assuaged if the hotel uses clever hotel marketing strategies and pays attention to the figures Barclays recently released in their 2017 Tourism Report. In the report, Barclays reveal that a full 61% of domestic travellers prefer to book directly with the hotel, via phone call or online, compared to a paltry 3% who use travel agents and 23% who use intermediaries such as Expedia.
The full report is worth reading, full as it is with facts and figures to shape your view of the industry in 2017. For example, bookings made with phone and tablets have doubled since 2007, with bookings via smartphone up from 3% to 6% and bookings made on tablets increasing from 5% to 13%. But the real question is how to entice that one-third of UK travellers who aren’t booking direct, as well as how to keep hold of the existing 61% who are.
It’s likely that not all of those who book using intermediaries and travel agents will make the switch to booking direct, no matter which hotel marketing strategies you have. Some will trust a particular agent; some will work for them. Others will just trust that the intermediary has the best prices available, not realising that direct booking is often the best way to assure this.
By using systems like Google Hotel Ads and making sure your online presence is professional and reflects your brand, you can reach a whole new raft of prospective customers. Try to find out why this third of the UK prefers not to book direct, and then appeal to their concerns—if they’re worried about price, or insurance, let them know that you have it in hand.
Hotel marketing strategies will vary between establishments but the most important things your customers need to see are strong and consistent tone and imagery, regular updates, commitment to the brand, and a reassurance that you want to welcome them no matter how they book. Loyalty programmes might not fit with your brand, but they can be invaluable in retaining clients who will continue to come back, year after year.
Ultimately, the best way to get customers to switch allegiance from third party booking websites and apps is to get in front of them. Whether that means using Google AdWords and carefully managing PPC campaigns, or else targeting a selection of customers who have booked with you before, it’s important to work out a strategy.