Hotels in Southeast-Asia have a lot of room for improvement in 2017 when it comes to converting direct online traffic. Most of the hotels still very much depend on OTAs (Online Travel Agency) like Agoda and Expedia to bring in sales for their hotel. OTAs services are very beneficial, more so if your hotel is not in a well-known tourist attraction where the location is not popular with tourist.
Another reason why hotels in this region prefer to list their hotels on OTAs is because OTAs are taking care of maintaining the website and the stuff that might seem complicated to many hotel owners who have used to run a traditional business.
Companies like Softinn Solutions are providing services which include building an interactive and modern looking website complete with booking engine for free for small and medium hotels in the region. You can get more hotel guests and increase your revenue by putting an effort towards attracting direct online booking through your own hotel website.
1. Spend More Effort and Resource In Promoting Your Own Hotel Brand
It is also known as the billboard effect. That is why you see many hotels have their own presence in social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. That is why many hotels sign-up with OTA like Agoda and Expedia to get their hotels listed. Since travellers will search hotels through OTAs
Travellers today are stuffed with tonnes of information, with the internet at their fingertips, they can just search information about your hotel with ease.
Due to this reason, travellers will go to different social channels to do a survey before they decide to book your hotel. Here is where the strong influence of OTAs come to play. Try Google any hotel names you can think of and you will notice the top results are dominated by OTAs.
This is good news, isn’t it?
You may be wondering OTAs are helping hotel/ homestay/ lodge to market their brand and made their presence felt online. It just makes sense for the hotel to continue using service from OTAs. But there are something you as a hotelier should understand.
Image from wisetiger
What hotel owner need to know:
- OTAs don’t market your hotel for free.
The fee is included in the commission paid to them by hotels. That is where OTAs get their budget to run an advertisement and get the travellers attention.
- Hotel too dependent on OTAs will be forced to follow the rules set by OTAs.
Including changes in the commission which might affect hotel’s profit margin.
- OTAs are actually advertising for their own brand.
In the future when travellers wanted to search for accommodation the first place they think of will be OTAs.
Therefore, hotels need to balance their business, instead of fully dependent on OTAs. A hotel can increase their web presence by building their own website which features their specialty.
2. Have A Mobile-Friendly Official Website
Image from Websitem
A study from Google reveals that, in the past few years, conversion rates have grown more than 80% on a mobile travel site. This means more and more people are making decisions through their smartphones or mobile devices.
This comes as no surprise as smartphone sales grew 7% in the 4th quarter of 2016. This translate to a total of 1.49 million phones sold in the whole of 2016. Besides that, mobile data are getting more affordable and accessible by everyone, including those who are in developing countries.
In short, Google will update and tune their search algorithm to favour mobile-friendly sites.
The image above says it all. Let say you have two version of hotel booking websites, one is mobile friendly and another is not. The ranking will actually be different. The reason why Google will penalise non-mobile-friendly website by giving them a lower ranking is because they want smartphone users to have the best experience while browsing for information in Google Chrome browser.
3. Be Honest and Clear About All Hidden Costs
When a potential customer visits your hotel website and decided to book through your website, the last thing you want to do is scare them off with surprise fees. Some of the hotel websites will only reveal the total amount on the checkout page after travellers have taken the trouble to insert all their details.
Some places collect travel tax, government tax, additional service tax etc. Make sure to display all the charges at the beginning when travellers select the room types instead of displaying at the checkout page. Many hotels still practice this method by adding substantial extra charges only at the very end of the purchase process.
If a potential customer leaves your official hotel website, the next place they will likely land on is an OTA to explore better deals, or worst, book through another hotel. Foregoing the revenue from optional extra charges can help you avoid losing the business to a competitive hotel.
4. Run Targeted Discount, Promotion and Add-Ons
image from: Softinn Solutions
One of the hotel direct booking strategies is running targeted promotion or discount.
The best part of having your own hotel website is you can run special promotions that are specially tailored to those who visit your hotel website. A promotion will quickly capture the web visitors attention and greatly increase their urge to not look for hotel elsewhere and book directly through the website.
Do you, as a hotelier, know your target group?
Every hotel has their own target audience. Whether it’s business, family, leisure, group travel etc. Hotel knows best where their potential travellers come from, and they will need to create specific promotion to cater to them. That is how hotel utilize and focus the resources on obtaining maximum bookings.
For example, if the hotel has a constant stream of returning guest every first week of March. The hotel can create a promo code printed on the receipt of those check-out guest. This will encourage hotel guest to book through your website instead of going through OTAs. Besides that, the hotel can also track and record how effective is the promo code by looking at how many returning guests actually uses the promo code. Even if they share the promo code with others it is considered as a referral, and the promotion campaign is a success.
Additional Reading: Learn how you can increase hotel online booking by utilizing Promo Code System in your hotel website 6 Ways Promo Code Can Increase Your Business Earning
5. Digital Marketing Effort
image from SILC
Do not underestimate the power of your hotel official website.
A hotel website with good design, friendly user experience, clear display of command buttons like Book Now and Gallery will have made a good first impression to travellers when they visit your hotel website. It is most often the first impression a customer will get from your hotel and can win or lose you business.
- Reply to all enquiries in social media, email.
- Ensure hotel description, room types and amenities are up-to-date. Hotel can also highlight some added service like free parking and free breakfast.
- Invest in your own marketing and brand. Allocate a budget to advertise your hotel brand online as well as offline.
- Integrate with social channels like having a direct booking engine install in your hotel Facebook page to speed up the booking process.
- Use email newsletters to promote the offers that is only available on your own website. Research have shown that email marketing is 2 times more effective than cold email to obtain more hotel booking.
- Google search those bloggers that have written about your hotel and leave a comment thanking them for the write-up and paste your hotel website in the comment section.
6. Human Interaction Can Never Be Replace
Image from hotelogix
Use your front desk as a point of contact.
Ensure your staff especially the front desk/ receptionist are well educated to promote direct online hotel booking. Besides that, they have to be well informed about the latest offers and deals that can only be redeemed through online hotel booking website.
Companies like Airbnb are making it big not just because their platform can connect travellers to the right accommodation, but also ensure the quality of the host is as good as 5-star hotel customer service. With human interaction, it makes the journey even more memorable.
Even though more and more activities are done online, a successful hotel will always provide no other technology can replace, engaging customers and keeping them happy is the name of the game in the hotel industry.
Are you deciding to have your own hotel website to market your brand
Find out more by reading What Are The Criteria Of Good Instant Booking Engine For Hotels.
or Head over to Softinn Solution homepage to learn how Softinn helps small and medium hotels and also homestays save more by having all the essential functions in the Softinn Extranet. The best part is there is no upfront payment needed.
Softinn helps hotel or homestay build a website with booking engine and payment system so that merchants can focus on running their business without much hassle.
**Above Article is Written by Softinn Solution**
Softinn Solutions Sdn. Bhd. is an emerging travel technology company that develops a cloud-based hotel reservation system for small and medium-sized hotels. Learn how we help hundreds of hotels better manage their business and increase sales.