In the previous post, I was writing about OnLine Travel Agencies and their significant influence in the hotel business when it comes to reservations that you need at the hotel.
And I mentioned there that as much as we refuse to work with them, we still need their marketing, and we need to admit that they work very good with the reservations. The fact is that OTA’s have enormously good marketing and that at every step we can see on the Internet.
But still, we will all agree that there is nothing better than direct hotel reservations.
At the beginning I want to tell you what are the benefits of direct reservations:
#You save money.
You need to have a perfect plan for direct bookings. Follow the tips that I will tell you today and finally make your annual calculation. You will notice that your income has increased, just because you pay less commission on Online Travel Agencies.
#More loyal guests
Yes. When you have direct reservations, you will also have more regular guests, and according to Triptease, they are spending more money on your hotel.
When the guest will book a room through direct booking, most of the time you will have their email address, and with their permission you can add it to your database for future deals.
It is also easier to communicate with your guest. You’ll get to know the guest and his/her needs and expectations, so you will be able to offer better service than expected.
Now, let me tell you more about these 10 powerful techniques on how to start earning more from direct reservations.
1. The most important thing is to have a website
You will not have direct bookings if you do not have a website.
You must also have one and a unique brand that you will be recognizable for.
Make sure your website has the power to tell a story that guests can experience.
The website should be simple, but functional. It should contain all the necessary information that the guests need.
For example here’s few:
- Types of room they can reserve
- Which amenities are included in the price
- Contact information from the Hotel
- How to get easier to the hotel
- Map of local surroundings
- Blog with things to do in your area
If you already have a website then you should always improve it and make it up to date.
2. How to find your website more easily?
Creating a website is only the first step. Make sure it is discoverable by search engines.
Google offers an excellent opportunity to register your website for free. When you create a Google My Business account, Google will provide you to leave your site as well.
When your guests are searching on Google for hotels in your area, your hotel website will appear to them. They can visit it and also book a room from there.
To be among the top of Google’s list, also you can pay for that service, that is advertising. But in my opinion, you don’t have a need for that. You can have the same results without paying any money. And that option is named SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
A basic SEO done to your website will help you rank for your branded keywords. Which should be enough on the start.
You can always hire a SEO professional or Digital Marketing Agency that can get you ranked for additional keywords that can bring extra travelers to you website.
In the next section, I will tell you how to make your website more visited.
3. Optimize your website for more visitors
The easiest way to make your website more sophisticated is to write a blog.
You don’t need to be a writer or professional blogger to do that. Be creative with words and facts, and you will have an excellent post for the blog.
Make it simple but functional, and what I mentioned earlier: offer value! The guest will appreciate that.
A blog can be from a different nature.
Here are some ideas you can write about:
- Tourist attractions in your city
- Events in your area
- Things to do in your town
- Characteristic food in your surroundings
- Secret Places
- Best beaches for family etc.
There are so many opportunities and so different topics for writing a blog, especially if your hotel is in tourist destination or even better in a city with a rich history, all you need is a little creativity and a bit of research.
What do you get with writing blog?
When someone comes for the first time in your city or your area, he will want to know more about the town where he is going to stay. Whether it’s a place of relaxation or traveling for business, he/she will always check which activities the city offers or where they can have a romantic dinner.
Blogging in this creative way can make your blog post to appear higher in searches, which leads to more potential customers.
Reviews, Testimonials are crucial for your website.
They improve your social proof and must be placed on a visible location on your website. These are the people’s experiences that tell the story of your property and location. Don’t hide the bad reviews, people want to know that too if you have an excellent response to negative reviews than there is nothing to worry about.
The Photos on your website must be professional and High Resolution.
Photos are the ones who can sell the room in one way.
Many times to date, photography is a significant part of the sale of the rooms, but also the overall image of your hotel.
Take one step plus forward and make 360 Tour in your hotel. This currently is one of the best passive marketing. When people visit your website, except the pictures you will have the opportunity to take a virtual ride through your hotel. With this, your guests will have a better idea of what you offer, but also what to expect when they arrive.
Amenities are also an essential part in the sales of the rooms.
It is crucial that what you will offer on your website, the same offer to get the guests when they arrived at your hotel. There is no excuse for providing false service on line.
Apart from the everyday amenities that you offer to the guests, I advise you to provide more than usual that your hotel offer.
Here are some ideas for extra amenities:
- Free welcome drink (coffee, tea, water, juice)
- Free pool access
- Free Spa
- – Discount Spa
- – Free access to the hotel fitness center
- – Early check-in
- – Late check-out
- – Room upgrade
You can offer lots of amenities that can make every guest experience unforgeable. And the most important thing is to make them return to our hotel again.
4. Make your website mobile friendly
It’s imperative that your site is customized for mobile use.
Nowadays, young people are increasingly using the phone as an essential tool for communication or socialization.
As many as 87% of Millennials say they do not leave the phone away from them, and 86% say there are still a lot of websites without good mobile functionality.
It suffices to show 64% that Millennials book a hotel room from their mobile phone.
If we already know that Millennials are the group of guests staying in hotels and if most of the world population is made up of this group, then it is essential that we and our website adapt to their needs and needs.
Millennials are almost a quarter of the total population in the US, this is a large enough number to motivate us to adapt to their needs more when it comes to hotel and service.
However, Millennials are the generation of many-traveling tourists and are everywhere present when it comes to tourism. We can say that Baby Boomers are better guests, but not that they spend a lot.
5. Make your Brand visible for more direct Hotel reservations
Every independent hotel has its own unique name, and for those frequent travelers, this can save time and money.
Those who often travel and stay in hotels already know who they are looking for to book a room directly.
You need to stand out from your competition to recognize those who might come to your place for the first time.
It is therefore of great importance that the hotel’s name makes the brand for a simple reason – to be recognizable.
#What does it mean by making your hotel brand available for direct reservations?
To find the answer to this question, we need to put in the guests’ shoes.
It is increasingly known that direct bookings from your website can bring discounts and various benefits to them.
So what do they do? They search for the best properties on online travel agencies, and when they find a property that is fit, they search for the brand name on search engines trying to find your website.
Your goal is to be on the first page of the search.
And that’s what you will achieve with Search Engine Optimization. All you need is an basic optimization done for your brand name keyword + location.
If you have a unique keyword for your brand, your website will definitely appear in the top results of a Google search
#An advanced SEO optimization to your website:
If you decide to do advanced SEO on your website, below is an example of how will it work for you:
For example: If you have a hotel with pool or spa, and there is not that kind of hotel in your area, for sure your website will appear on the first page if the guest searches for “hotel with pool+ location”.
So, your keyword will be: hotel with pool, or hotel with a spa, or if you have another amenities different from your competition- work on that, on that unique keyword. Just to step aside from your competition, and you’ll see the profit right away.
6. Use Social Media Booking Buttons
We are always surrounded by social networks. Of course, the social proof that they have on people is quite significant. Use the booking social media buttons for your advantage.
Social networks help us with the business, through their high level of marketing.
Because of their frequent presence, both young and older, it’s good to have your business there.
Facebook has included a “book now” and “call now” button a few years ago. This is how you can create one on your Facebook Business Page.
7. Loyalty Program, but little different
The Loyalty program can be profitable, but for the big chains of hotels. About Independent Hotels is acceptable only if you make it different, in one word- unique.
Why is the Loyalty Program Important?
The very name tells us: Loyal guests, loyal service.
To make sure that guests are regular visitors to your hotel, make a different loyal program.
The guests have already become accustomed to the usual and present-day loyalty program by collecting points, collecting nights, such as three nights – the fourth night for free.
Other as an idea you can use the following:
- – VIP access to your facilities like Bar or Restaurant
- – VIP Spa treatment
Make the guests feel special and appreciated.
Be direct: Every guest who is a member of a loyalty program in your hotel should have a 10% discount on the night.
8. Offer a better price on your website
Having a website means no fees to be paid to the Online Travel Agencies
If you want to have more direct hotel reservations, you must turn off all the offers you have so far offered to OTA’s. That counts offers like Early booking, Loyal costumer on OTA’s and all kinds of discounts that you have on your On line Travel Agencies.
When you do that, now it’s time to have discounts on your website or a lower price, with much more benefits than you offer in On line Travel Agencies.
9. Let your guests be your marketing tool
There is no better marketing than a kind word spoken by a guest.
Nowadays, there is no better free marketing than letting the client advertise you on social networks.
Encourage him to take a photo in your hotel, or use your hashtag.
By logging in to the free Wi-Fi from the hotel, send them a message with content to remember to take a photo at your hotel and post on social networks. Of course, you must emphasize that you will be infinitely grateful for such a gesture on their part.
If you have the opportunity to make a part of the room where there will be the perfect light for perfect photography, and in the background, you can subtly see the logo or your hotel name.
If this is not possible in the room, make it into the lobby bar or find the perfect location in your hotel which will be the best place to take pictures.
10. Always Be updated with new features
In this fast changing culture, the basics of hospitality are the same. But that doesn’t mean not to visit a hospitality events.
To have as many direct reservations as possible, this is one of the ways to attract guests to book with you.
- – Always keep fresh offers
- – Be different from others
- – Keep up with the novelties in the hotel business
Use the examples of the big Hotel chains.
The big hotel chains have avoided the way of booking over OTA’s for a few years, for a simple reason – big commissions.
They have developed method to attract more reservations through their web pages and they have successes.
There are so many opportunities and reasons why the guest would reserve instantly.
Hilton has a super campaign called Stop Clicking Around. And super offers from which guests can be selected.