Hotel Digital Marketing Strategies: Direct Booking and Website Conversion
When it comes to arranging a holiday or trip, it's common for guests to consider making their purchase through an online travel agent (OTA) or booking directly on the hotel's website.
According to The Path to Purchase report by one of the most well-known OTA’s Expedia, a substantial 23% of travellers prefer to book their accommodation directly on a hotel's website or app.
But with 51% still preferring to use OTA’s it's no wonder the large hospitality groups often offer incentives for booking direct, whether it's discounts or reward schemes that can be claimed only when you book direct.
However, the quest for those coveted bookings is not without its challenges. The average website conversion rate for hotels stands at approximately 2.2%, making it a critical performance metric.
In this article, we explore some conversion strategies to maximize direct bookings, ultimately helping hotels secure a stronger foothold in the digital marketplace. As you’ll discover, it’s not just about streamlining the booking process.
3 keys to improving conversion
1. Addressing Visitor Questions
Improving conversion on a hotel's website often starts with effectively addressing visitor questions. This encompasses a range of factors that potential guests may enquire about and they need to be able to find the answers to their queries easily and quickly. Here are key aspects to consider:
- Location: Provide clear and detailed information about the hotel's location, nearby attractions, and accessibility. Highlight what makes the location attractive for potential guests.
- Price + promotions: Offer competitive pricing and showcase any ongoing promotions, discounts, or special offers prominently. The best price is often a significant factor for potential guests and they will likely be shopping around, so be competitive with what the OTAs are offering.
- Rooms: Describe room options, sizes, and configurations, along with high-quality images to help guests visualize their stay.
- Reviews: Display guest reviews and ratings to build trust and showcase the experiences of previous visitors.
- Views: Highlight room views and scenic features that can enhance the guest experience, such as ocean views or cityscapes.
- Amenities: List all available amenities, including a pool, gym, office facilities, Wi-Fi, and any unique services that set the hotel apart.
- Breakfast and dining: Be clear about the inclusion of breakfast or meals, and offer comprehensive information about on-site dining choices.
- Many guests prioritize food sourcing and sustainability, so if your establishment emphasizes local sourcing or waste reduction, be sure to highlight these details as well.
- Family or pet-friendly: Indicate whether the hotel is suitable for families or pets as this can be a significant decision factor for certain travellers.
- Cancellation policy: Explain the hotel's cancellation policy, so potential guests understand their options in case plans change.
However, even with this list, you can’t guarantee that you can tick every box for every guest, so that’s where community management comes in. Implementing a live chat feature, email support, or social media engagement to address specific queries, can provide exceptional customer service and personal attention to potential guests, as the sooner you answer their questions, the quicker they can move forward with their purchase.
2. Brand Differentiation
Building a reputable and trustworthy brand is a cornerstone of successful website conversion. Here's how your brand influences conversion:
- Brand trust and credibility: Establish and convey trust in your brand through quality design and consistent and transparent messaging. Your website's design plays a significant role in building credibility. A clean, professional, and user-friendly design instils confidence in visitors. Ensure that your website is well-organised and easy to navigate. Building a trustworthy brand image is essential for convincing visitors to become guests.
- ooking simplicity: Make the booking process on your website as simple and intuitive as possible. A complicated or lengthy booking process can deter potential guests. Streamline it for a seamless experience and offer multiple ways to pay.
- Reputation: Your online reputation is a crucial factor in conversion. Highlight positive guest reviews and ratings. Address negative feedback professionally to show your commitment to guest satisfaction.
- Loyalty programs: Loyalty programs frequently serve as a motivating factor for guests to make direct bookings, so it's crucial to present your offering in a transparent and appealing manner. In fact, 79% of travellers emphasized the significance of booking with a brand that offers a loyalty program. Highlight the benefits of your loyalty program to encourage visitors to become loyal customers.
- Ethical practices: Today's travellers are deeply concerned about your ethical stance, sustainability efforts, green initiatives, and employee welfare programs.
- Photography: High-quality images of rooms, facilities, and surroundings can greatly impact a visitor's perception. Use professional photos to showcase your property, but mix with user-generated content as well to create an appealing visual experience. Today’s traveller chooses authenticity over the polished room photo.
3. Social proof
Thirdly, actively maintaining an engaging presence on social media not only contributes to boosting bookings but also serves as a direct conduit to your website.
Become a part of the social community by engaging with your audience and guests. Share regular updates and promote special offers or events to keep the online conversation lively.
It's highly beneficial to curate a wealth of user-generated content (UGC) as well, as this content humanizes your brand and provides validation of positive guest experiences, thereby enhancing the appeal of your hotel to prospective guests.
In today's travel landscape, social media is a go-to platform for travellers for research. It’s the perfect place to discuss not only the hotel itself but also the location and the local community, it's about creating a well-rounded experience for potential guests.
Incorporating these factors into your website and marketing strategy can significantly improve website conversion rates. They contribute to a sense of authenticity, trustworthiness, and engagement, making it more likely that visitors will take the desired actions, such as making a booking or inquiry.
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