Three Ways Hotels Can Increase Direct Bookings via Online Optimization
Most hoteliers would agree that they want to increase their direct bookings, but how? Here are three simple and effective digital tactics hoteliers can implement to drive more direct bookings through your website.
- Undertake an online health check
A hotel’s online presence is like the foundation of a house. Neither benefits when it is bad. Just a few simple mistakes could cause you to miss out on enquires and bookings. For example:
Update local listings in Google my Business: Make sure things such as the telephone number, website address, check-in and check-out hours are up to date. If you do not have the correct information or a broken link, your customer will click elsewhere.
Build a local network of backlinks: If you work with suppliers such as food and drink merchants or technology providers, representing your partnership and linking back to their site (vice versa) will benefit both parties and offer an easy way to build your websites DA (domain authority) which will also boost your Google rankings.
Offer clear ‘call to actions’ onsite: Have you made it easy to buy? Make sure enquiry and reservation buttons are clear to find on your homepage, by putting them in the header. Remember: 50% of viewers don’t scroll past the second half the page. Make sure you don’t have any broken links onsite too.
Align your channels: Stay on top of pricing and make sure your OTA’s aren’t cheaper than booking direct. Always offer a better deal to those who book direct.
- Change the way you think about online ads
The world of online and digital ads can be confusing at times, but pulling quality traffic through paid ads can still be comprehensible. When you take the jump to running your own ads it can bring down the costs for gaining new business as well as guaranteeing they’ll stay with you direct next time.
The biggest feeder of online bookings into your businesses are usually coming from the OTA’s (Online Travel Agents) who are offering online ads with your hotels name anyway - in the way of a commission when the rooms are been booked.
Consider running paid ads that run for low cost key terms (such as your hotel’s name) and even your competitors hotel name. When customers search for other hotels in the area, yours could appear on the top of the page as an alternative. Another thing to add is call to actions such as ‘Book now!’ and your telephone number as extensions to your meta description, this makes it easier for the customer to book with you.
- Optimise your website
A study of 2,000 people conducted by Guestline, looked at how people book their hotels. It found that more than a quarter of people take into high consideration the quality and detail of a hotel’s website (such as photographs and information) before making a direct booking online.
If at least 25% of customers on your site are judging you by the content and visuals of your website, it is very important to make sure you pay careful attention to optimising it for the best user experience.
Think of your website as a brick and mortar business and website traffic equates to people physically walking past it. Think as the home page of your website as the shop window. If it doesn’t look easy to navigate/inviting, those who are “walking by” are less likely to walk in.
Notes to Editor
- Guestline’s Booking and Cancellation 2019 study was conducted on 2,000 UK respondents. Data available upon request.
About the Author
Ben Patterson, Websuite Product Manager at Guestline, has 10 years’ experience in digital optimisation and helping hotels grow their business through a plethora of platforms, specialising in SEO for organic growth.