If there’s one thing hoteliers are keen to get right when planning a new website, it’s the booking engine. After all, this is the final nudge – the point at which guests select their room type and length of stay, enter their credit card details and book.
There’s no doubt that providing an easy to use, mobile friendly booking engine which streamlines the reservation process is an essential component of any property’s digital marketing campaign. But driving direct bookings goes far beyond integrating a reliable booking engine. It starts not with this final nudge, but with a string of other, just as crucial steps that get your guests on your website and inspire them to book once they land there.
Creating an Attractive, Easy to Use Website Is Key to Maximising Bookings
Your website is the most important tool you have to create trust in your brand, spark an impulse to buy and turn online travel planners into paying guests. It’s your opportunity to inform your guests about everything you have to offer, but even more importantly, to excite them, get them visualising their holidays and inspire them to book. How? Here are 6 crucial elements of a hotel website that converts:
- Easy to use navigation - A focus on usability and simplicity will ensure your guests find the information they need quickly and easily, moving them smoothly along the booking funnel
- An attractive, eye-catching design that reflects your brand and inspires trust
- Compelling calls to action – placing a prominent CTA on each page of your website will encourage users to sign up to your email list, interact with your property on social media, and book
- High quality photography – people planning their breaks online often decide whether they like your hotel at first glance. Capturing their attention with high resolution, enticing imagery as soon as they land on your site is one of the quickest ways to secure a booking
- Professional copywriting – the right text will powerfully sell the unique benefits of your property, engage your audience and persuade them to book
- Optimised for mobile – a website that looks great and works perfectly on all screen sizes will maximise conversions across devices
Driving a Steady Stream of Traffic to Your Website
An effective SEO campaign is essential if you want to drive a consistent flow of highly targeted traffic to your website and booking engine. By keeping up to date with Google’s increasingly intelligent algorithm changes and incorporating SEO best practices into every level of your website design, you can expect a more prominent organic ranking, increased conversions and better guest retention rates. The position your hotel is placed in the search engine results pages (SERPs) is integral to maximising your booking rates –as many as 70% of customers will not look beyond page one of search when researching businesses online.
As well as optimising your website’s text, image and design elements in line with the latest SEO strategies, marketers work to keep traffic flowing to a website by:
- Frequently adding fresh blogs, videos and other content
- Using social media to promote this content and drive traffic back to your website
- Using highly targeted email marketing campaigns to promote exclusive offers and boost website traffic
The importance of your reservations system
Your booking system has the very important role of merchandising your guest rooms at the point of sale. It should clearly lay out the information your guests need to make an informed booking decision, offer the flexibility and convenience to switch between room types and dates and draw attention to your hotel’s unique selling propositions. The whole process should be smooth and streamlined to avoid any risk of losing your guests’ business at the final hurdle.
But even with all these essential considerations in mind, your reservation system is just one element of an online campaign designed to drive conversions. Driving direct bookings is about powerfully marketing your rooms to the right audience at every stage of the marketing funnel, starting with a great website, and ending with a smooth booking process and engaging post-booking communication.
Combining the latest SEO techniques with a website that has been carefully created to drive conversions at every level of design is the most effective long term marketing strategy for hotels. By focusing on these two areas, you can expect to see increased exposure, better guest engagement and higher bookings rates.