The online OTA’s such as the big names of Expedia, Priceline or meta-search engines like Kayak and Google Hotel Finder have become crucial to almost all hotels when it comes to advertising, especially during the shoulder seasons. As all of us know using these channels too much is very costly for a hotel, and ideally a hotel would like to lean more towards direct booking rather than losing percentages of their revenue through these many little cracks and slips. The best way would be to balance the two, but increasing direct booking can only mean that the hotel does not have to pay any commissions, therefore increasing their revenues. Let’s have a look at why a hotel is not successful in their direct booking strategies and what is there to be done to keep all those profits.
SalesCycle has conducted a study where they found out that 81% of potential customers abandon their booking engine without actually making a transaction.
So, what are some reasons behind these unfinished transactions?
- The rates where cheaper on third party OTA’s. We have smart consumer nowadays, with unlimited online resources. The customer will do their homework, compare the prices and then make the purchase. Make sure that the contracts made with these third-party websites clearly state that you should have the lowest fare or the hotel booking engine should use price parity and update the prices, so they match the latest OTAs prices.
- Hidden costs are the killer of al deals. Offering a very attractive promotion, just so your potential customer reaches till the end and see all kinds of added hidden fees. That will most definitely put an end to the booking.
- Smart devices are in everyone’s hand. It is extremely important that your website is mobile friendly and easily navigable in that format. Google studies show that 36% or business travelers and 40% of leisure travelers book hotel rooms on their smart devices. Optimizing the website for these smart devices is vital.
- The creative part is just not enough. The booking process is done with the rational side of the brain but by the time the potential customers arrives and navigates your website the emotional side needs to be satisfied. You need to inspire that customer to pay the prices that you are offering. 39% of abandoners say they are “just looking.” So, your website experience must go above and beyond to inspire and excite visitors.
There are some strategies that will increase direct booking when followed and they go beyond than just setting up a “call to action” button.
- Keep up with the digital marketing evolution, the old-fashioned brand promotion and strategies do not work anymore. Integrate new marketing strategies and train your marketing department as often as possible
- Search engine optimization (SEO), optimize your website to keywords that are optimal for your property, your services, location and so on. To achieve SEO success, you need to be theme focused rather than just keyword focus.
- Social media, becoming inseparable for any business. Make a social media plan, appoint someone that will be in charge with this, take it seriously. Don’t’ only showcase your events and services but make the hotel ready for that “Instagram Moment”.
- Your website should make a strong impression, make that customer want to go ahead and venture more.
- Make your “site search” smart and intuitive.
- Add a progress bar, it helps with impatient customers.
- Be clear and offer so the customer does not feel cheated
Make their booking experience easy and pleasant, trying to eliminate any opportunity for them to stop their booking process and try on a different website.