How Hotels Can Reduce the Need for Travel Websites
A lot of hotels use travel websites when it comes to generating online bookings, but what if there was a way to reduce your hotel’s need for them?
Yes! You read that correct.
We’ve have a few suggestions that could help you and your business shy away from travel websites and carve your own niche online.
This means attracting customers without needing to pay travel website commissions, and it also means more money to invest in your business.
That’s an attractive prospect indeed, we’re sure you’ll agree!
So take a look below for our recommendations - you won’t look back.
Create a User Friendly Website
When it comes to booking online, one of the most important parts of the experience is your website.
If it looks stripped back, bare and basic - and doesn’t perform when it should - then you’re not going to attract customers to your hotel because booking is simply too difficult.
Booking accommodation shouldn’t be a battle, and it’s a streamlined website that will keep your customers coming back time and time again.
If you’re looking for a great example, then take a look at the International Hotel Group website. Here you’ll find a clear cut, well designed layout that is simple to use and also filled with useful information.
The booking captcha form at the top makes reservations direct and easy to access, and the contact details featured also make it easy to speak to someone should they require assistance during their booking process.
Your hotel’s site also needs to be like this if you want customers to come direct to you, instead of via travel websites.
Create and Implement an Excellent Brand Experience
If you’re trying to get the word out there about your hotel, then branding will be a very important part of this process.
You’re going to want people to remember you, and a consistent brand will help to encourage this with potential customers.
You also want to ensure that you have a brand that looks professional. A poor brand experience online is certainly going to turn people off from booking no matter whether it’s through travel websites or not.
So make sure you develop a brand that reflects your business’ beliefs, and portrays exactly what you’re all about as a hotel.
Raise Your Brand Awareness
When people use travel websites, they usually discover hotels they’ve never heard of before. If it looks good and the price is right, then they’ll likely choose to stay in that establishment.
They may even check it out on Trip Advisor as well to see what others who have stayed have to say about it too.
Well, if people are already aware of your hotel brand, then they won’t need to go searching through travel websites to find you.
There are a range of ways a business can do this. Everything from ensuring your website is search engine optimised through to engaging with customers on the likes of social media can all generate more buzz around your business.
Blogging and content creation is also a great way to do this - just remember to promote your content via a regular Enewsletter or social media platforms to drive more traffic towards your website.
Do Your Research
One of the great parts of going online with your business is that you can really get right to the heart of what your customers want from your brand.
Exploring what people are saying about your hotel online will help you to craft your customer’s experiences. Taking a look at discussions on social media, as well as what the reviews say on Trip Advisor, will help you to rectify any areas that need improvement, as well as getting an insight into what you’re doing well.
If you can refine your hotel experience for customers, then you won’t need to rely on travel websites to get your brand out there. People will talk and spread the good word for you - meaning they’re more likely to go direct.
Engage With Your Customers
If you decide to head online and create more of a presence on the internet, then to raise awareness even more you need to engage with people.
Social media accounts such as Twitter and Facebook offer a great way to do this. For example, if you notice that someone’s looking for a hotel in your area, then why not send them a tweet or message and get the conversation flowing? ‘Social listening’ should be a key part of your marketing strategy to generate customers. By following conversations via hashtags or simple keyword searches you will discover a wealth of opportunity for new business.
If people do start to directly speak to your social accounts, then make sure that you talk back. Whether it’s a complaint or a bit of praise, it’s important to let your customers know they matter.
Others who aren’t involved with the discussion will also see your exchange, and if you’re seen as a hotel that solves problems quickly and offers a great customer service, even negative comments can be dissolved with a positive spin. Facebook even offers an insight for users into how quick a business page replies. Make sure you hit the ‘Within 1 hour’ bracket so your potential customers know you’re on the ball.
Optimise Your Website for Mobile Use
Smart Insights reported that people are now using mobile devices to access the internet more often than traditional desktop methods, so it’s important that your website is mobile optimised
Even if your site works smoothly on a desktop, if you may be clunky and slow from a mobile platform - and you could be unknowingly putting customers off booking direct because of this.
Travel websites know how important mobile optimisation is, which is why they ensure their sites work well across all platforms - so don’t get left behind.
Take the time to test your website and rectify any issues that occur during the switch from desktop to mobile.
A good example of this in action is the website from Lake District based hotelier The Hideaway. If you visit their website (www.thehideawayatwinderemere.co.uk) from a mobile device, you’ll find an easy-to-use interface which allows customers to discover more about the establishment and what they offer with minimal effort.
Take note, and keep it quick and smooth if you want your customers to book direct with you on mobile too.
If you’d like to find out more about how to raise your hotel’s brand awareness online, then be sure to get in touch.
We’ve worked with a wide range of hotels and holiday villages and revolutionised their brand - making them more accessible online as well as offline too.
Give us a call on 0161 228 2489 to find out more.
Branding is our passion, let us share that with you and your business too!