How you can increase direct bookings on your accommodation website; Those who are entrepreneurs in the tourism industry and in particular those who own hotels or rented accommodation, know well how important it is to make most of their bookings through their official website. Booking platforms such as booking.com, Expedia, Trivago and other similar websites keep a not insignificant commission on bookings. So if you are one of them, you are understandably wondering the following:
"Why should I give all this commission to other platforms when customers can book directly from my website?"
And it makes perfect sense! But what can you do about it? Read on to see how you can increase direct bookings on your accommodation website.
1. Make sure you always have the best available price on your website
Provide an important incentive for the user to choose to make their booking from your website. You should have the best available rates on your hotel website or at least ensure that the rates on your website are not higher than other external platforms. This way you minimize the chances of the user booking from another website.
2. Reward direct bookings
Encourage your potential customers to book your accommodation directly through your website by giving them some benefits. For example, you can provide them with a discount coupon that they can use on your website for their next booking or when they recommend your hotel to their friends or family. The increase in loyal customers is directly linked to an increase in direct bookings. Customers who booked a hotel directly were twice as likely to book the same hotel again than those who booked through online travel agencies.
3. Reward loyalty
Create loyalty programs, i.e. loyalty programs for your customers. Ask your customers to provide you with contact information such as their email address or follow you on social media to get a discount exclusively on bookings from your website. Invite them to join your property's loyalty club so they can benefit from exclusive offers and discounts that they will only find on your website. In this way, you not only increase direct bookings on your accommodation website, but also build long-term, profitable relationships with your customers and understand their habits and preferences.
4. Give tourist information about your place
Content is definitely something that should not be missing from your website. Add unique content to your website that will be attractive, interesting and useful to your potential customers. Before users decide to travel somewhere, they will first look for information about the place, look to see photos, local accommodations and exact locations to come up with the perfect place to make their reservation.
Take advantage of this search they do by being the first to provide them with all the useful information they need to drive them to your website. Give them personalized suggestions for sightseeing, history, food and entertainment. Create a tourist guide that will give them all the information they need and make them trust you. This way, you "keep them" on your page and greatly increase the chances that they will book your accommodation directly from your page.
Also, more technically speaking, this method helps significantly and the SEO of your website. More specifically, the more time users spend on your website reading the important information, the more their time spent on your page increases and at the same time the bounce rate decreases. These two factors work beneficially for your page's SEO and help in the long run to get your website high in Google results.
5. Create attention-grabbing reservation buttons
Use clear and bold buttons in many parts of your website. It is important that they are highlighted, meaning they are large and bold, to encourage the user to click on them and be taken to the page where they can book directly to your site.
You can also near these buttons to have attractive offers to further entice your potential customers to make direct bookings.
6. Inform your customers with a newsletter
Make sure you create a list of your customers' emails. Once you get their email you have the ability to send them targeted messages to inform them of enticing offers or useful information. This way you will keep the communication between you alive. Don't forget to add buttons to your email that lead to your website so that the user can go directly to your page if they are interested in an offer or if they are convinced to make a reservation at your site.
7. Online advertising is essential to increase direct bookings
Take advantage of the tools that Google and social media like Facebook and Instagram give you to show your ads to people who are looking for businesses like yours. Target specific age groups, countries or regions to advertise to and increase your bookings.
It's also a good idea to promote your website on Google and social media for some time before the season opens. For example, if you have a hotel property that starts operating in April, start advertising after Christmas.
Many people are looking early for the ideal destination and a good accommodation for their summer holidays. That's why you should make sure that you are in the results of their searches in good time. Try an early booking offer, or an enticing description of your accommodation in your advertisements to grab the attention of your potential customer. This way you can secure dozens of bookings.
But beware! Google and social media ads can be costly, so it is important to have an organised plan about when it is useful to promote your page. Look at Google Analytics, see when you get the least traffic during the year. During the times of lowest traffic you can boost your website with paid online ads and "fill in the gaps" in your bookings.
8. Impress with virtual reality
Virtual reality has boomed in recent years in hotel marketing. By creating virtual tours that allow internet users to digitally tour both your resort and the attractions in your area, you increase the chances of direct bookings. Internet users find it very exciting to be able to virtually tour a place before they visit it, to see the facilities of your tourism facility and the wider area in which you operate. Create virtual videos, embed them on your website, and allow visitors to get a first - and delicious! - taste of their potential trip. See an example of a virtual tour here.
9. Don't forget to have direct contact with your customers
More specifically. Integrate live chat into your website if you are able to respond at short notice. Businesses that use live chat on their website have many more direct bookings. This is because it gives instant solutions to your potential customers for any questions or concerns they have. This is how you begin to gain their trust, and as a result, you increase your chances of making them your customers.
Apply the above and see the direct bookings on your accommodation website increase!