Tips for Optimizing Hotel Websites for Maximum Online Bookings and Revenue
The Current hotel booking trends in many countries indicate that approximately 45 to 50 per cent of guests prefer making their reservations online. These statistics are expected to rise in the coming years as an increasing number of guests utilize the internet, including mobile devices, tablets, and personal computers, for their booking needs.
In this era of advanced technology, the Internet has evolved into a powerful marketing tool for the hospitality industry, enabling hotels to target guests across various market segments effectively.
Hotels leverage online booking channels such as Global Distribution Systems (GDS), Online Travel Agents (OTA), and their official websites to secure bookings. Among these online platforms, bookings made directly through hotel websites stand out as the most cost-effective and profitable channel, as hotels are not required to pay commissions on such transactions.
Optimizing a hotel website for maximum online bookings and revenue involves a combination of design, functionality, and marketing strategies.
Here are some tips to enhance your hotel website and attract more online bookings:
- Responsive Design:
- Ensure your website is mobile-friendly and has a responsive design. Many users book hotels on their smartphones, so a seamless mobile experience is crucial.
- User-Friendly Navigation:
- Simplify navigation to make it easy for visitors to find information about rooms, rates, amenities, and the booking process. Use clear and intuitive menus and include a prominent call-to-action for bookings.
- High-Quality Visuals:
- Use high-quality, professional images to showcase your hotel, rooms, amenities, and surrounding areas. Visuals play a significant role in influencing a potential guest’s decision to book.
- Compelling Content:
- Craft compelling and informative content. Highlight unique selling points, amenities, and benefits of staying at your hotel. Use persuasive language to encourage bookings.
- Clear Call-to-Action (CTA):
- Place a clear and prominent “Book Now” or “Reserve” button on every page. Make it easy for visitors to initiate the booking process at any point during their website visit.
- Transparent Pricing:
- Clearly display room rates, any additional fees, and taxes. Avoid hidden charges to build trust with potential guests. Offer discounts or promotions to incentivize direct bookings.
- Online Booking Engine:
- Implement a user-friendly and secure online booking engine. Minimize the number of steps required to complete a booking and offer a guest-friendly calendar for selecting dates.
- Guest Reviews and Testimonials:
- Showcase positive guest reviews and testimonials on your website. Encourage satisfied guests to leave reviews, as positive feedback can influence potential guests.
- Special Offers and Packages:
- Create attractive packages or special offers exclusive to your website. This can entice visitors to book directly for added value.
- Social Proof:
- Integrate social media feeds or display social proof to build credibility. Highlight any awards, certifications, or recognition your hotel has received.
- Loyalty Programs:
- Implement a loyalty program to encourage repeat bookings. Promote the benefits of joining the program on your website.
- SEO Optimization:
- Optimize your website for search engines (SEO) to improve visibility in search results. Use relevant keywords, meta tags, and ensure your website loads quickly.
- Email Marketing Integration:
- Capture visitor emails through a newsletter signup or during the booking process. Utilize email marketing to engage with past and potential guests, sharing promotions or updates.
- Live Chat Support:
- Implement a live chat feature to assist visitors in real-time, addressing any queries they may have during the booking process.
- Localized and Personalized Content:
- Tailor content to your target audience and incorporate localized elements. Personalize the user experience based on user preferences and past interactions.
Regularly monitor website analytics to track user behavior, identify areas for improvement, and refine your strategies to optimize the booking process continually.
The key factors for maximizing direct bookings and revenue from hotel websites:
1. Website design and usability:
- The hotel website should be always on a structured way with easy navigation, i.e. the guest should be able to find relevant information in just a few mouse clicks.
- It is better to choose a CMS ( content management system) for the hotel website over the traditional static html pages, Content management systems allows the hotel staffs to publish new articles / pages, delete, modify existing contents without the need of any technical skills.
- Should be image rich- Upload the best and relevant images on each page to increase guest interaction on pages.
- Optimize the website for Mobile, Smartphone’s and Tablets.
- A Simple, easy to use, yet feature rich room booking engine should be available on website.
- The booking engine should also allow easy modification and cancellation process.
- Only collect details from guest which is absolutely essential to process the booking.
- Highlight the current offers and promotions on the designated area on the website and also on the booking pages.
- Currency conversion tool to check the total cost of stay to guests preferred currency.
- Integrate the social media badges and like buttons on the website. E.g.: Facebook like button, Twitter follow button, Google+ and Trip advisor badges and reviews etc.
- Display the hotels locations using interactive maps e.g.: Google, msn maps.
- Correct contact details and full address of the hotel to be displayed.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
- Website should be SEO friendly, the content management system which you have choose for your hotel website should allow to add SEO tags like ‘Meta description’, ‘Meta keywords’, <H1> , Title tags etc.
- Recent studies indicate that more than 75 % of all hotel searches are done online and around 40% of these searches convert into bookings.
- Avoid flash, java etc on navigation and home pages as search engine will have difficulties reading those, Which might also lower your page rankings.
- More than 80% of your website visitors come via Google search. So you must have a good visibility on Google search.
- In order to generate direct bookings from hotel website your hotel must have a good ranking on major search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo etc and the website pages to be indexed properly without any issues. (Check your website index status on Google by entering site:www.yourhotelwebsitename.com the search result shows you how many pages of your site is indexed on Google.)
- Publish new contents / updates at-least two times in a week.
- Send newsletters regularly to the subscribed user list featuring new contents on website, current promotion on hotels, Food festivals in restaurants etc..
- Always publish unique contents ( eg: Articles about current happenings / events on your location, creating a promotional offer for room bookings, special events in hotel) to increase direct online bookings.
- Do not scrape / copy contents from other competitor website and re publish the same on your site, this will have a very bad effect on your website in terms of SEO and also a punishable offence in some part of the world.
- Create good back links for your website using free hotel directory sites eg: lodginglists.com
- Use Google analytics (free tool from Google) and measure the success rate from paid advertisements and also identifying search keywords which brings guest to your site.
- Setup Google Webmaster and Bing webmaster tools account and take appropriate actions to all notifications, warnings, index status etc.
3. Social Media:
- Create social media channels like Facebook, twitter, Google+ etc.
- Keep the social channels always active with interesting contents and special promotions.
- Device different ways for increasing the social media like / followers. ( Eg: Placing a Facebook like button on website, purchasing paid promotions etc.)
- Create a Google+ page as local business this will give a boost on Google search results.
- Whenever new contents are added inform guests via newsletters and social media updates.
- Integrate your booking engine to take room reservation directly from Facebook.
4. Traffic from Paid ads (CPC) and other advertisement channels:
- As the hotel doesn’t have to pay any commissions for bookings generated from their own website, It is a good idea to create a paid search engine / social media campaign to boost room bookings from website.
- Monitor bookings generated by paid campaigns and calculate the cost per acquisition for each booking.
- Purchase online ads in line with the most profitable cost per acquisition (CPA).
- Once the guest is familiar with the website you may also generate recurring bookings from those guests without spending money on advertisement.
5. Encourage and reward guests who book directly:
- When you work with different OTA’s it is important to maintain rate parity.
- Work with special package rates ( Eg: Complimentary 2 Piece laundry, 24-hrs Wifi, free early check in etc.) with a small add-on price on your hotel website to encourage guest to book directly from hotel website and this will also avoid rate parity issues.
- Give surprise reward to guest who had booked directly from the website. ( Eg: Special welcome drink on arrival, A room on the higher floor)
- Place tend cards on guest rooms to showcase the extra benefit while making a booking from the hotel website.
- Implement telephone music on hold saying ‘Book directly from hotel website for special packages, promotions and special rates’.