80% of all hotel bookings occur online, and the number keeps growing. That is why hoteliers should know the crucial stages that lead clients to booking online in order to drive them to booking directly on hotel website.
We have been analysing online customer behavior for 10 years to map the hotel guest journey:
- Looking for a hotel;
- Going to a hotel website;
- Choosing a rate and a room;
- Booking and making a payment;
- Staying at a hotel;
- Checking out.
In this article we will talk about the first 3 and the points you should take into account to get more guests.
Guest looks for a hotel
Customers find out information on hotels on the following platforms:
- search engines like Google;
- metasearch engines like Google Hotel Ads, trivago and Tripadvisor;
- OTAs like Booking.com, Expedia, etc;
- hotel websites.
Hotels get the greatest revenue from website bookings. If less than 20% of hotel bookings are made on the website, it is considered to be inefficient. In this case you need to learn why customers do not book on your website and fix it.
Raise hotel website up to Google hits
If a customer searches your hotel name and the city, your hotel website should be higher than other search results. The higher it is, the more direct bookings you will get. Check how Google ranks your website as regularly as possible. Use SEO-tools to make search engines list you closer to the top.
Create a profile on Google My Business
GMB profile contains your property’s photos, contact details, reviews and the website link. It appears to the right of search results, when someone particularly looks for your hotel.
Complete your account with as much information as you can. Keep your profile updated and make sure the website link is valid. Manage the reviews by responding to them.
When searching on a mobile device, a GMB profile is displayed at the very top of Google results, which makes it even more effective in increasing website traffic.
Link your website to metasearch engines
Customers use metasearch to compare price rates, read reviews and then go to hotel website. There are 3 most popular metasearch engines: Google Hotel Ads, trivago and Tripadvisor. Each one of them has its own specific features. For example, trivago is great for hotels whose inventory has at least 40% of rooms of the same category.
Guest goes to a hotel website
Maintain your website’s trouble-free operation: renew domain, hosting and SSL certificate in due time. If all the mentioned above is in order, but you still do not get bookings, it means that you must not have taken something else into consideration.
Make the web design adaptive
As of February 2021, 55% of all web traffic comes through mobile phones. If your hotel website is not mobile-friendly, you might lose a great deal of bookings. Make sure that your website is adaptive and lets customers book on mobile devices as well.
Post quality photos and videos on your website
To make clients imagine what it feels like to stay at your property, post high-quality photos, videos or even 3D tours across surroundings. Keep in mind that they could be played on mobile devices.
Make booking section well visible
Place a room search box above the fold, make a "Book now" button visible and eye-catching. Make them both sitewide to let clients book on any page of the website.
Put highlighted Call-to-Action button on "Room categories and rates" and "Special offers" pages. These are the ones that drive the most bookings.
Tell why your property is unique
Highlight your USP — Unique Selling Point on your website. It is not necessarily a provided guided tour or SPA facilities. To find out your USP, consider your target audience and what they take interest in. They might want to know if there are any souvenir shops and parks around or they might want to rent a char grill.
Create a section about the USP on the homepage of your website. Present it as an advantage for booking on the website. This increases website bookings 1.6 times, as our analysts report.
Guest chooses a room and a rates
The website is effective even if 20-30% of visitors reach the booking form, as our analysts report. This percentage is less for network hotel websites.
If clients like your website and rates, they are likely to go to booking. Make this step as smooth as possible.
Set rates and quotas
If you have not renewed the price rates and set room availability, website visitors will be notified that there are no vacant rooms for a chosen period of time. After seeing it, they might leave to look for another hotel.
TravelLine Booking Engine allows guests to "make a request", if there are no rooms for chosen dates. If rooms are available again, a guest will receive a notification email.
Make discounts noticed
OTAs offer discounts to increase bookings. You can do this as well by using widgets and pop-up banners that highlight discounts in hotel booking engine.
TravelLine Booking Engine by default has:
- "X rooms left" popup;
- "X people are viewing this page" popup;
- "Was last booked" popup;
- "Daily pricing".
You can enable more popups to draw more attention to discounts on hotel website:
Give details on rooms and rates
Guests want to know why a room is worth its price, how one room category differs from another and what is included in the price rate. In room’s description, list: how much its area makes, its facilities, amenities and say if there is a nice view from the window. When describing a rate, list the services comprised.
Offer family accommodation
Guests should clearly understand how to book rooms for a whole family. Let them know:
- what is the price offer for children of different age;
- if there are any discounts;
- if there will be an extra bed for a child.
You can set price rates for children’s accommodation in TravelLine Booking Engine.
It is important to reveal the flaws mentioned above in time. TravelLine Assistant analyzes the demand and checks if the corresponding booking engine’s settings are enabled. It is free of charge for those who use TravelLine Booking Engine.
In the following articles,we will tell about the rest of steps: payment, hotel stay, and after-stay period.