Let’s begin with your most important audience – your guests.
Did you know that travellers visit 42 sites on average before making a reservation? But you are likely to only be dealing with people who are ready to book – that is 3% of your audience. That’s a lot of clutter to cut through!
In an ideal world you want to see more Direct Bookings coming through your website, resulting in higher revenue as you won’t be paying out fees to OTAs.
However, don’t get me wrong, I still think we absolutely need the OTAs and the trick is to work with them and treat them as a partner not a competitor. I mean let’s face it, they have way more marketing dollars to spend on advertising so let’s leverage off of that.
Anyhow, back to my point…. Here are some of my top tips to navigating this maze:
Branding –Tell your story. Inspire travellers to stay with you. Highlight the “why they benefit”. What is your story and why would guests think that matters, what will make them choose to stay with you.
Marketing – Connect with your audience. Use emotional content. Engage them. Use the key channels that your audience use – Instagram, SEO, UGC, Facebook, Video & Podcasts, Snapchat etc…
In Post COVID-19 times, this is also the stage at which you should refer your viewer to your Safe Promise – the cleaning measures that are implemented, are booking fees waived, are your cancellation policies updated… highlight what you are doing to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your guests in these times. Make them feel confident to book with you.
CONVERT CUSTOMERS :
A guest wants to see they are getting value for money. How do you stand out from the clutter of hotels and special rates? Highlight these value adds and benefits.
Distribution – push Book Direct. What are the benefits? Start to shift that market share from OTAs.
Customers are much more connected today, when they book travel and book hotel rooms they want to feel a personal connection, so show them that booking on your website is a much better option for them and explain the “why” and the perceived value.
Some ideas to include in your BOOK DIRECT messaging:
- Free WiFi
- No booking fees
- Instant reservation confirmation
- X% saving on all future bookings when you sign up
- Sign up and never miss out on the latest news and discounted rates
- Early check-ins or late check-outs
- Welcome drink
Right offer – right audience – right time.
Create a message on your hotel site, in emails, on email signatures and on in-house collateral that clearly demonstrates the value the booker receives in booking direct:
You’ll enjoy the best online rate when you book here… Plus enjoy…
Don’t just market the hotel, market the destination. share local knowledge and itinerary suggestions. For one of my clients I created Stay&Play Guides for each of the properties, these are a local guide with a map to the property’s neighbourhood, they highlight dining, activities and cultural things to see and do, ensuring guests get the most out of the local area when they stay. These guides can be downloaded from the website and is a great planning tool for guests.
Always drive the value of booking direct and educate your audience on this.