In my last blog post on digital marketing for hotels, I discussed how online travel agencies (OTAs) are brandjacking your direct bookings by bidding on your brand terms in branded search results.
If you’ve followed those tips, hopefully you’ve beaten the OTAs at their own game and are now getting more paid search traffic to your hotel website.
In this blog post, I want to follow up with some action items you can easily incorporate as part of your digital marketing strategy to increase direct bookings on your hotel website. After all, if you’re going to make the effort to get paid traffic to your site, it’s critical you seal the deal and make sure your customers book directly with you instead of the OTAs.
How To Increase Direct Bookings on Your Hotel Website
Sick of paying commission to Booking.com and Expedia? Use this checklist of the top 20 things you can do to increase direct bookings:
1. Optimize Your “Book Now” Button
Don’t just have a “Book Now” button, make sure your booking module is embedded on your home page with check-in/check-out date, number of guests, special accommodations, etc.
2. Switch Your Website to HTTPS
Your website must be secure – https:// to establish trust and for SEO. Learn more about why HTTPS is so important in this blog post.
3. Segment Your Email Lists
Email lists should be segmented and personalized via your PMS – this creates a massive improvement in booking conversions from email marketing.
4. Email, Email, Email!
No one is emailing their email lists enough. Email your prospects and past guests frequently. Check out our tips for stepping up your email marketing campaigns.
5. Create a Strategy for Competing Against OTAs
Strategize with your team on in-house tactics you can do to convert OTA buyers to book direct.
6. Act Like A Guest
Carefully review your guests booking experience on mobile and desktop. Use heat-mapping and visitor recordings to learn what your customers are experiencing on your website and improve your site’s user experience.
7. Do These 2 Things to Rank Better in Google Search
Optimize your website for search results with Google My Business listings and invest in technical SEO for your site.
8. Invest in PPC Marketing
Take advantage of paid search advertising (if you have a great website and reservation platform–otherwise your money is wasted).
9. Focus on Gaining More Google Reviews
TripAdvisor is not the biggest review site, Google is… make sure you focus on Google Reviews as well. Read this blog post to find out how to get more hotel guest reviews.
10. Drive Traffic to Your Rooms & Rates Page
5% of your visitors will book if they visit your rooms and rates page, so drive them early to that page and optimize that page to showcase your accommodations.
11. Have Professional Photos on Your Website
Invest in the highest quality photography you can afford – consider an architectural photographer. Learn why professional photos are so important.
12. Send a Confirmation Email
Confirmation emails are a huge hidden opportunity as they have 60% open rates, this is your chance to remind guest why they booked your hotel (USP), offer upsells and upgrades and tease on property amenities and destination activities.
13. Send a Welcome Email
Be proactive with your online reputation by doing a personal welcome to our hotel email.
14. Follow Up with a Post-Stay Email
Don’t forget the post-stay email and give them incentives them to book direct.
15. Offer Packages & Specials When Booking Direct
Be a master at packages and specials which add value for booking direct–they’re something OTAs can’t compete with.
16. Don’t Sleep on Google Hotel Ads
OTA’s won’t win the booking game, Google Hotel Ads will… pay attention.
17. Choose the Right Booking Platform
Invest in a great ADA compliant booking engine that is user friendly and allows specials (we like ThinkReservations.com).
18. Start a Hotel Blog
Actively write about your destination on your blog and highlight your unique selling points and work with local businesses to promote each other.
19. Test Your Page Load Speed
Make sure your site loads quickly (you can test it on www.GTMetrix.com). If it doesn’t, work with your webmaster to decrease your page load speed (a major ranking factor in search results, particularly on mobile).
20. Make Sure You’re on Regional Websites
Google your destination and make sure you are listed on any independent websites for your region (like Albany.com or LakeGeorge.com) and optimize all your listings on all distribution channels (update photos, specials, details, make your descriptions sing your unique selling points).
Need Help Marketing Your Hotel Website?
This checklist is just the tip of the iceberg! If you’re considering a new digital marketing strategy for your hotel and want to convert more lookers to bookers, then it’s time to request your free marketing review with the team that specializes in website design and digital marketing for hotels!
Let Mannix Help Take Your Hotel Digital Marketing Strategy to the Next Level
Call 518-743-9424 to ask for a 15-minute digital marketing review or contact us online and we’ll show you what we can do to increase your bookings, increase your ADR, and increase your occupancy rates!
Want the best hotel website? Check out our blog on the 13 Most Important Features of a Hotel Website.
Did you know the IRS will pay $5,000 for Website Accessibility? Learn more about this tax credit and making your hotel website accessible for the disabled.