So for now, this is the final piece in the Book Direct Strategies Blog. I hope you have enjoyed and perhaps taken one or two of the tips on board. Here’s to Channel Shift and Better Bookings Direct!
1 – Use your reviews
I hope that you all agree that responding to reviews is essential. We have all read the statistics – for example – ‘78% of people who see a management response to a review believe that the hotel cares about their guests’, but why aren’t we using this platform to promote our Book Direct Message.
A site such as Trip Advisor has thousands of visitors each day and many of them could be browsing our hotel, so lets put our Book Direct message in front of as many people as possible
Now I am not suggesting you add this to every review and in many cases they certainly wouldn’t be relevant but why not subtly add here and there. It can’t hurt can it? (just don’t try and add the full url – www.yourhotelname.com as TripAdvisor will block)
2 – It’s all about the images
As hoteliers, we are often guilty of saying too much. Why say 1 word when you can say 100 right? And too often this filters on to our website. We of course need content not only for our customers to read about how wonderful we are but also and probably more importantly, to help search engines rank us more effectively, but the trend now is absolutely all about the image.
Make sure you have great quality photography on your site that tells your story. Don’t ‘over-promise’ with only photographs of your suites or best rooms – that will only lead to complaints and very negative feedback. Give an honest view of your hotel and make sure you reflect the experience a guest will have with you
- Use only great quality images
- Make sure you have a gallery that is prominent in your website navigation as it is often the second most visited page on your site
- For goodness sake never show areas without people in them. An empty restaurant or bar looks like the Mary Celeste! Show people eating or drinking, smiling, enjoying themselves. Allow customers to imagine themselves there and experiencing all you have to offer.
- If you can afford it, make sure that the photography is well staged. This can make all the difference. Something small like a wrinkled bed sheet or bad lighting can sound a death knell on your brand perception
- Don’t be afraid to use ’emotive photography’ rather than wide shots of your lobby or bedrooms. Close-up pictures of your lighting or even a tea-cup can capture someones imagination.
3 – And how about video
The trend is definitely switching to video and as more and more people using sites like YouTube, video is becoming a daily part of our lives.
There are lots of ways to do this – Perhaps have a ‘Main’ video that encompasses your whole property on the Homepage and then snipets of this throughout the relevant pages on your site – for example a 30 second video of your Restaurant on your Dining page.
Get your own YouTube channel and publish all your video content there.
Another easy way to build up video content (if you are for example a wedding venue), is to ask the brides permission to use a small section of her video. Lets face it, most brides would love that and it gives you great content to showcase your product and better still, in a real-life way rather than something staged.
4 – Rate Checker
Lets for a moment, go back to rates. When a customer comes to your website and then checks availabililty you have a fantastic opportunity to capture them. But what if they want to go off and check prices to see if they can get a better deal on one of these pesky OTA’s. Well why don’t you present their prices on your own website so customers don’t have to leave. There are price check widgets on the market and my current favourite is TripTease.
TripTease understands your customers check-in date, goes out to the third parties and then returns a comparative price for a B&B rate, all within a few seconds. Of course as we are all clever hoteliers, we have the best rate on our own site, so we always appear cheaper. Ta da! So the subtle message to your customer is, ‘No need to check anywhere else, we have the best rate right here!’. Now that should help get those customers to commit.
5 – Guest Recognition
We all like to be recognized don’t we? Maybe not in a Kanye West kinda way but don’t we all like to think someone remembers us? Well lots of booking engine providers recognize that and have launched Guest Recognition software. It works like this… If I come to your site and check availability for 26 June then leave, my visit is registered. If I then come back, the website welcomes me (anonymously at this stage as I haven’t given them my name) and asks if I would still like to book for 26 June. It then takes me right back to the rates that are valid for that date. Wow! The customer loves that they are remembered and it shortens the booking process
Then if I make a booking and perhaps return to the site to check directions, I am again welcomed back but this time with my name (as it has been captured in the booking process) and a message can be tailor made to offer dinner or perhaps just ideas of what to do in the area. Upselling and information giving.
Then after I stay, I come back a few months later because I had great time and I might want to re-book. This time I am again welcomed with my name but I could be given access to an Exclusive Offer to reward me for being a loyal guest. Now that really does make me feel special.
We all want to ‘feel the love’ and this new software is a huge bonus and will definitely help not only convert, but also establish a relationship with your customer. And we all know that once in a relationship it is very difficult to ‘browse’ elsewhere.
This is the last in our publicly available Blogs so if this isn’t already popping in to your mailbox every week, then wander over to our website www.rightrevenue.co.uk and register for Right Revenue Review.