A few years ago it seemed that the market is shifting towards the Online Travel Agencies (OTAs).
But things are changing for good in favor of hotels. Many hotels like Hilton have started their add campaigns this early year to attract more customers to their website and wage a war against the OTAs.
Through their advertisements, they are conveying the benefits customers can get by directly booking instead of the OTAs.
The thing we must consider is that why does a customer turns to these travel websites?
Well, if we provide them with easy access to information and simple booking process then why won’t they prefer booking directly from a hotel website.
The OTAs have been providing that simple thing. What customers want most is the hassle free process to gain them.
Here is what you or any hotelier can do to gain more direct bookings and get the maximum share of the online booking market :
First and foremost you need to have an optimized website. A poor design and user interface will definitely affect your bookings. If a customer faces a complicated booking process then he will immediately turn to the OTAs and in this way, you will loose a booking.
The solution to this problem is to check whether your website is well optimized. Also, whether it has a user-friendly interface to help customers to navigate smoothly through your website.
It is a good idea to use the OTAs as they do provide you some bookings. Since they invest a lot on advertising themselves you can take advantage of it.
You can display the rates of your rooms on OTAs on your website, so that customers can compare the room rates.
Most of the times the OTAs show the same rates as the hotel’s actual pricing or maybe less. In this way, there will be transparency and will help boost customers’ trust in your hotel.
You can provide customers discounted rates for booking directly through your website. Similarly, you can give offer special deals like free breakfast, free and fast wi-fi etc to attract more customers.
As a result, customers will be happy to book directly from your website rather than booking from Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). It is much better to offer discounts than paying high commissions to OTAs.
You need to have a mobile friendly website as customers can access your website through various devices like mobile, smartphones, tablets etc. In this way, you’ll be increasing your coverage area and will be able to reach more customers.
You need to research well and find a well developed Hotel Booking system. Because it will help you optimize your website by providing an easy booking system for customers.
The key points to keep in mind before selecting a Hotel Reservation System is that
-Whether it has a Responsive system.
-Does it have a simple booking process so customers don’t get confused or frustrated?
Building and launching a hotel website is just a start. You need to market your brand as well to let people know that you exist.
The Power of Social Media
Using social media platform to promote your hotel services is a must. You can actively post about the services you provide, about why your hotel is a good place to stay, about the recent events organized in your hotel etc.
You can convert online audience to customers by engaging with them online. Having interactions with people on social media gives them a more personal touch.
As per the research which was done by CeBIT, 74% of customer decisions are influenced by social media.(Read more : http://bit.ly/2gj9tmR)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Following good SEO tips from Google and other sources, you can optimize your website so that it appears on the first page search engines. Practicing good SEO is a bit tough in the beginning but with little more attention to it, you can maximize you online reach for the customers searching for rooms online.
Blogging – A key for Hotel Promotion
There is no doubt blogging does improve your websites SEO. It helps in getting your hotel’s name at the top results of Google search results.
You can write blog posts related to your hotel. Blog about the successful events that have occurred and/or about to in future. This will show that your hotel is putting in efforts to make the stay of your customers more enjoyable and memorable.
Writing about the prime attractions about your hotel, the nearby beautiful places they can visit like famous beaches , or any other renowned tourist attractions etc. will help customers to visualize the enhanced experience they can get to your hotel.
Good reviews lead to increase in accommodations. As per Searchengineland.com , a whopping 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
In fact, MetaSearch Engines like TripAdvisor can drastically influence the booking decisions of customers. Good reviews about your hotel will encourage customers to book rooms in your hotel.
So it’s very important to maintain good reviews not only social media but also on metasearch engines too.
Sharing your customers’ experience by putting pictures of them on your website is also a very good strategy for promotion.
This approach has helped to increase revenue for many hotels. Why? Because this creates a positive reputation of your hotel. It also encourages customers to explore your hotel and feel the same awesome guest experience as your previous customers.
To sum up I’d say that by keeping these points in mind and implementing them can result in more direct bookings. These are some of the strategies, but you can develop more ways to grow your hotel business.
At the end, it all depends on the efforts and hard work you put into delivering the best possible experience for your customers. If they really enjoy your services they can turn into loyal returning customers.
If you are a Hotelier, then I’d like to suggest you Qloapps. Qloapps is an Open-source Online Hotel Reservation System with a fast checkout process. It is Free of Cost, therefore you can simply download this software, install on your server and upload your hotel data. After following these steps your own free hotel website is ready and visible on the internet.
Please click on this link to read more about the features Qloapps has to offer you : http://bit.ly/2dHfEQF