One of the biggest challenges a hotelier has today is maximizing direct bookings through their own website. There are a combination of ways to successfully increase direct bookings through a hotel website. Honestly… too many to list in this blog. For the purposes of this write-up, I am going to break this down into two categories titled 1) Simple Truths which are easy to absorb and, 2) Hard Truths which are harder to admit to because at the end of the day we are emotional beings at our core. Let me explain by going over of the hard truths first…
Hard Truth 1: The website that you love so much might be terrible. I think it is great that your best friend’s uncle who specializes in Alpaca Farm websites created yours at a bargain price. Is that really the best decision to make for your livelihood? Your website is the one of the most important investments you can make for your hotel. You don’t have to break the bank but you cannot afford to go cheap in this area.
Hard Truth 2: So a channel management company has offered you a FREE website as part of a package? Wow! Tell me now one thing in business that is free. Nothing is free. If it is free they have put a process in place to give you the most basic product they can at the lowest price they can. Another question I have is why would you want someone who is specializing in channel management be tasked with providing your hotel website? If you’re going to do that then why not ask your car mechanic to diagnose your next medical condition and save a trip to the doctor?
Hard Truth 3: Your I-phone pictures of the beach are cool but you are not a professional photographer. Hoteliers do not understand how important it is to properly illustrate their product on a hotel website. Amazing photos on a website are a great way to capture a visitor’s interest. Put your camera away and spend a little bit of money on professional photos of your product.
Hard Truth 4: Stop blaming your website developer on your website ranking. You can have the most amazing looking responsive website on the net…. but if you don’t promote it with a proper SEO strategy no one will ever find it. Once again you do not have to break the bank but it is an investment you have to make.
Hard Truth’s hurt. You might be angry with me now but I hope you will keep reading because there really are simple ways to approach your website development to maximise conversion.
Simple Truth 1: The most important thing to understand is that you can have a great website developed by companies who only specialize in hospitality at a really fair price. There are many companies out there who specialize in the hospitality industry who follow best practice. There are companies that charge a one-time fee. There are companies that charge monthly fees. You have options to get the best hotel website in your competitive set at a fair price
Simple Truth 2: If you partner with the right CRS company you can add an amazing booking engine to your website that is tested in the market, proven in the market and stays ahead of booking trends through multiple updates throughout the year.
Simple Truth 3: There are many ‘price checking’ tools available in the market that will allow you to show in real time that the rate you are offering through your website is the best rate available in the market. These tools do this by showing live rates on your OTA channels and comparing them to the offers you have on your website. This gives bookers peace of mind to stay and book on your website.
Simple Truth 4: There are customer retargeting tools available will monitor guests activity on your website during their visit. If a website visitor opens the booking engine and tries to leave without finalizing the reservation they will get a pop-up message encouraging them to finish their booking. If they have gone so far in the reservation process where they enter their email address they will get an email as well encouraging them to go back and finish their booking.
There are many more Hard Truths and Simple Truths that can be listed and discussed regarding your hotel’s website. The most important thing to remember is that your website is your most important sales tool in today’s market. Treat it as such. Reach out to experts and people who understand what it takes to have a successful hotel website. Do not be afraid of costs and complicated technology that you are afraid to understand. The cost is not as bad as you think and the experts will do the work for you.
I hope this helps as a starting point to get you thinking about your own website….