Tips for Optimizing hotel websites for maximum online Bookings and Revenue
The current hotel booking trends in many countries revolves around 45 to 50 percentage of guests making their booking online . These figures are only foretasted to go high in future years as more and more guests make their bookings through internet using mobile, tables and personal computers.
In this new era of technologies internet had become a very powerful marketing tool for hospitality industry for targeting guests from different market segments.
Hotels uses online booking channels like GDS (Global distribution systems), OTA (Online Travel Agents) and Hotel Website to generate bookings. On these online mediums bookings from hotel website are the most cost effective and profitable online channel as the hotel doesn’t have to pay any commission on such bookings.
The key factors for maximising direct bookings and revenue from hotels website:
Website design and usability:
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.
Optimise 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.
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 backlinks 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.
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.
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.
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’.