Recently deceased performer Cilla Black famously said, “I rarely stay in hotels because I have friends all over the world!”
Thank the Gods that people like her are just a minority. Where would the hospitality industry be if all of its 1 billion annual customers had friends all over the world? Did you know that the number of tourists all over the world is forecasted to double in the next 17-20 years?
You made a wise choice by deciding to be an important part of an industry that is expanding at such a speed. Now is the time to make another important decision by providing due focus to an important revenue source for your hospitality business. Yes, I am talking about online bookings. Gone are the days when hotel receptions waited patiently for enquiries on the phone or for tourists and guests to walk in. The need to boost up online hotel bookings is very important for your hospitality business. Instead of paying hefty commissions to online travel agents, here are a few easy ways by which you can boost online bookings for your hotel:
- Have a balanced plan to increase online bookings. This balance is between the online and the offline, the present and the prospective, the real and the virtual presence.
- Target both the sides of your hospitality business through this balanced plan and have fixed assessments to check its effectiveness.
- Package your tariff creatively. Present simple offers such a 25% discount on an extra night or invitations to a dinner party during the festival season in attractive ways.
- Create special packages and offers that target specific customers such newlyweds or senior citizens. Market these packages well on a unique page of hotel’s website.
- You can also leverage special seasons, events or festivals in your city or state by redecorating your website in-sync with the theme or offering a dedicated page to the festival.
- Promote giveaways and sweepstake specifically for customers who make online bookings on the hotel’s website within a specific period.
- Use every little chance to up-sell better rooms or extra services. There is no harm in letting a prospective customer know about stuff that they can get by shelling out a little extra money.
- Offer online referral schemes where current guests can refer to their friends or relatives if they make an online booking within a year or so.
- Try your best to win the trust of online bookers, especially the ones who are making first time bookings. This can be done by ensuring secure transactions and providing best price guarantees.
- Be responsive to all queries from prospective customers. Be it via email, tweets, Facebook posts or direct calls, a query unanswered means an online booking lost.
- Invest in a skilled website designer and listen to his or her advice. Make sure you have somebody who knows how to do his or her job.
- At the same time, make certain requirements very clear for your hotel’s website. Make sure that the users can get more information from the website with minimum effort.
- Make your hotel’s website mobile friendly. In addition to having a desktop version of the website, also invest in a version that is compatible with Smartphone screens. As smart phones are the preferred medium for a large number of prospective customers, a user-friendly website will reduce abandoning.
- Utilise social media well. Make sure your current and prospective guests know you are out there on all popular social media sites. Thereafter, utilise tweets, YouTube videos, Facebook pages, Pinterest pins and Instagram photos subtly and efficiently to maximise the chances of online bookings.
- Popular hotel websites these days also have a social media page that displays and highlights all their social media presence. When a prospective customer sees such a strong virtual presence of hotel, he/she becomes more convinced of confirming a booking with you.
- Have a simple and easy-to-use booking engine so that you do not loose online bookings because of irritated or frustrated customers.
- Pay attention to recovering customers who have abandoned bookings mid-way. More than 80% of customers who abandon bookings have the potential to make successful online bookings.
- Do not ignore aspects of online business such as email marketing, search engine marketing and search engine optimisation for your hospitality business.
- Encourage your current guests to post selfies, likes, hash tags etc. that promote your hotel’s services. Word of mouth works well even on the internet.
- It is also advisable to outsource all your online marketing needs to an online marketing service provider in order to increase online bookings.
Cannot believe you have never thought of all these ways until now? Well, it is always better to be late than never! Now that you have these tips readily available, quickly implement the ones that suit your hospitality business best and boost online bookings for your hotel.