How to increase your hotel website direct reservations?

hotel websiteMany independent hoteliers have been put to the test due to the proliferation of online distribution channels that have been registered.

The hoteliers began to disinvest or invest little in their direct sales channels, taking advantage of the new “players” as booking channels/online travel agents (OTA) to sell more rooms.

However, the preponderance of these OTA ‘s has been increasing more and more , reaching a point where they become indispensable to many hotels, even creating hazardous to such a dependency .

Forecasts suggest that to preserve their market share, independent hotels will have to make significant investments in marketing.

Anyway it should be noted that there are affordable solutions to increase the hotel’s website traffic and to promote hotel website direct reservations. Managers can really take advantage of the many free tools and low cost offered by Web 2.0.

Why should you focus in developing your direct sales through your hotel website?

The hotel website is still the main booking platform for many tourists. A good example is the tourists from Quebec in Canada.

According to a study by Ipsos- RVT conducted in 2011, 31% of tourists in Quebec booked their accommodation in the hotel’s own website. On its turn the OTA’s like Expedia and Booking classified in the third position (13%) after offline direct bookings.

The independent hotels should be aware of low cost solutions that allow them to expand their direct sales, if so; the hotel website can become the most profitable distribution channel.

 

The effect of “outdoor” online travel agencies

As noted by researchers from Cornell University, the OTA’s offer significant benefits in direct sales through online booking channels. In fact, a significant proportion of Internet users looking for the hotels in OTA’s will visit the website of the establishment to make the reservation.

According to a survey of WIHP, an online marketing company, 20% of respondents found a hotel through an OTA but they made the booking on the hotel website.

Several explanations are possible. One of the most obvious is that before booking from an OTA, it is likely that consumers visit the hotel’s website to see if the hotel has a cheaper price. If this is not the case, the hotel has to convince guests to book directly. Hotels can offer benefits that online travel agencies do not offer, such as, deals or promotions, package offers, activities, better payment options, refund and cancellation policies.

It is important that employees are aware about the commissions paid to OTA’s, and being motivated to sell more rooms via the hotel’s direct channels.

 

Search engine optimization (SEO)

In order to increase hotel website traffic, it is necessary to have a good visibility on the Internet.
This requires hiring SEO professionals, and choosing different page titles and appropriate keywords.
A hotel can also use keywords on the activities available and present experiences, not just products and services: food, relaxation, wine, museum, nightlife, etc.

 

Meeting the needs of location

To appear in the first places of the search results, hoteliers can display their address on every page of the site. This not only allows visitors to quickly find the address but also allows search engines inquiring whether it is a local company.

Google has developed a new free tool to facilitate local commerce. “Google+ and Google Places” built in “Google+ site”, which now appears in the search results and in “Google Maps”. Hotels can attract more users to visit their website through photos, customer reviews and with the rating/reviews app of Google “Zagat “.

 

Social me: allies!

With the help of social networks/media and all the potential and possibilities that these offer, hotels can adopt simple strategies to attract news users to their website.

Here are some ideas:

· Publish information of local events and promotions in the hotel Facebook page.
· Embed a booking engine on the hotel Facebook page.
· Refer and participate in influencer’s blogs. Write articles on your blog, on topics that may attract reader’s attention without promotional messages.

hotel website

The importance of hotel website content

Focusing on the content quality and design of the website, the hotel will guarantee a continuous flow of traffic. To do this, this content must be engaging, intuitive, unique, and user friendly.

The content has a significant impact on SEO and visibility on social media and social networks. In addition, the hotel has the advantage of being able to offer unique products that are not found in other online sales channels, such as customized packages for each customer segment (companies, stays, trips, etc.). Or special occasions (Day Valentine, Christmas, Mother’s Day, etc.).

But efforts to increase traffic to the hotel website are only useful if it is possible to convert it into reservations.

In conclusion, hotels should not spare any effort to overcome some reluctance that still exists to invest in new technologies, discovering and adopting the most effective applications to drive greater productivity and maximize profits.

Download here the eBook:
Digital marketing & E-commerce for hotels

Sources:

wikihow.com

hotelbuzz.pt/blog/

hotel-internet-marketing.com

hotelmarketing.com

Photo credit: Airwolfhound via photopin cc

About The Author

Luis Ribeiro

I am an entrepreneur and hotelier specialized in hotel web marketing with over six years of experience in the hospitality industry, digital marketing, hotel e-commerce and business development.