Get more direct bookings through a strong brand & save on commission
Here’s the first in a series of articles from our visit to the Independant Hotel Show 2019. Today we speak about generating sales through your website and how branding plays a part.
Direct bookings Vs online travel agencies (OTA)
As a small independent hotel it can be financially difficult to use OTA’s and pay their commissions. However if you’re savvy you can leverage them to your benefit without breaking the bank and also strength your brand in the process.
When using OTA’s it’s their brand that is remembered and your company brand is just one option among many. However, if you only use OTAs to promote, market and advertise your business, but use your site to sell directly to customers, you have a better chance of remaining memorable. This is because on your site you have more control of telling your brands story and walking your customer through the selling journey.
A statistics reveal 28% stay longer on your site when they make a direct booking. This is a great opportunity to build loyalty by selling your brand and other offering you may have.
An example of upselling is offering dinner booking option, VIP treatments and bundle tickets for attractions.
A great way to encourage people to book directly from your site is to offer incentives such as discounts or added charge, (doggy breakfasts were a popular choice).
The best incentives are the ones that are most personalised to the brand of hotel itself rather than a generic discount. This is a great way to create unique experiences and remain memorable so that guests return.
When it comes to having a website that will help convert site visitors into customers, ensure your site is ticking the clear and professionally branded boxes.
Branding is the impression you put out as a company to have an impact on your reputation in the long run. Having a website that is not attractive, bookable or friendly, will impact your brands reputation. To maintain a consistent brand, hiring a team that can implement your branding across the website is important.
A way to make your website attractive is to ensure you have appealing descriptions. A good copywriter can help you with this. Being a multi-lingual website is an added bonus and will open you up to other markets. And finally positive reviews are usually the confidence booster that seals the deal in the end. It’s the reassurance that builds your brand reputation in the guests mind.
Photography also plays a big role online when we can’t see the rooms in person. A professionally lit and photographed room will earn £28 more on average and helps sell the story of your brand.
A cornerstone of the hospitality industry is service. And nothing showcases a double standard than a badly put together website for an ‘at your service’ based offering. So optimise your site ensuring it’s user friendly and responsive.
The majority of traffic nowadays is from mobile, and people look to save time with the convenience of booking via phone while they are on the go. A way to damage the brand would be to have a frustrating experience at the booking stage and never return.
Manage Guests’ expectations
Following on the website expectations, making the booking process simple is key, booking should be no longer than a 2 step process.
Communication is another way of managing expectations both with how you communicate on your website and through emails. You should email only if it’s relevant. Think about what and when:
Pre booking communication, ‘Thanks for booking’ – at the time of booking, ‘Sorry you cancelled’ – at cancellation, post booking communication. This will reassure the customer and allow you to inform them of any periodic notifications, (there will be a routine fire drill shortly after your arrival). This will reinforces that your brand is trustworthy and your guests needs and care is a priority to you.
If they become brand enthusiasts, newsletters are a great way to reward loyalty. This way you can communicate more regularly regarding news and offers and even to promote an event. Regular communication builds trust and keeps you at the top of their mind for next time.
When managing expectations after they arrive, remember guests are normally visiting the area for an experience of the local tastes sights and sounds. Offering local information of what they can do in the area is expected but some hotels forget this. If you offer local knowledge, it gives you an added advantage over your competition and helps your brand stand out.
We can see from this article that branding is so very important. It is not only something though about at the start of a company but something that constantly needs maintaining. It can be easily damaged if you allow your brand to slide around. Keeping to a set of brand guidelines stemming from a brand strategy can help keep your brand on track.
— If you need help keeping your brand on track speak to us at Muneebah Creative.
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