It seems that the days of booking trips and holidays through travel agents are gradually becoming a thing of the past. New data from Barclays Corporate Banking shows that 37% of Britons planning a holiday will book their accommodation directly through the hotel’s own websites rather than an OTA or high street travel agent. This figure has increased consistently every year and is predicted to stay on the same path.
Some of the biggest brands in the hotel industry have seen an increase in direct bookings in line with this finding. Premier Inn for example reports that 87% of its bookings are carried out directly on the company website. Hotels do still have a fight on their hands to win direct bookings though with aggregator and comparison sites taking up a large proportion of the market.
Try these additions to your hotel digital marketing strategy to generate more direct bookings this quarter.
The world is going mobile and in order to engage with an increasingly growing consumer base, it’s important for hotels to serve the smartphone generation as seamlessly as desktop users.
Research published by Google has revealed that 60% of travel-related searches are carried out on mobile devices. This shows that there is huge potential to engage with more consumers. But, equally, there’s risk of losing bookings to other operators if the hotel booking engine or hotel website is not mobile friendly.
An effective mobile reservation system for hotels can massively improve the customer experience. It’s important to provide an end-to-end mobile experience that gives potential guests a simple and streamlined way to make a booking from a mobile device. This means developing reservation forms which can be filled in easily from a smartphone handset, removing the need to create an account before allowing a guest to book and ensuring form designs are responsive for easy completion on mobile devices.
The hotel industry is full of brands that are often indistinguishable to customers looking for a place to stay on their holidays or business trips. This is what causes many people to use comparison sites and aggregation services to book their accommodation. It is easy for hotel companies to get lost in the sea of generic brands so it’s important to distinguish yourself and personalise your services.
In the digital age, it’s easy to get caught up in the technology race and forget how important customer interaction is. In order to generate more direct bookings and entice more customers to communicate directly with a hotel, a personalised approach is very important. Big comparison websites work on algorithms and operate with zero human interaction. This illustrates an opportunity to offer something different.
Personal interaction with customers in the form of phone calls, personalised emails and real-time customer services add to customer confidence and satisfaction. A live chat button on your site or quick responses to social media enquiries are great places to start. You can take it further by employing marketing personalisation to serve users with content tailored to their interests or time emails to perfection.
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