For many hoteliers, the primary focus is on attracting potential guests to their website. They’re spending thousands on marketing to achieve this goal but are, unfortunately, falling short at the finish line. The reality is that the industry’s website booking conversion rate is currently sitting at less than 2%, which, according to Profitroom’s Commercial Director
, Samantha Williams, during her talk at WTM Africa 2022, is a mere third of the industry’s full potential.
“The job is far from done once those prospective travellers have landed on your website. In fact, it’s just the beginning. They’re there and they’re showing interest. Now it’s up to you to inspire them to act,” says Samantha.
But how can hoteliers transform ‘lookers’ into ‘bookers’? Where to start? What to change? Read on for details.
Unlocking your direct revenue potential
“The advantages of direct sales are twofold, but you have to have the right tech stack to empower your direct booking strategy,” Samantha explains.
It’s important to focus attention on website optimisation, creating unique booking journeys per segment, reducing abandonment rates and building loyalty and engagement with marketing automation.
Wowing with your website
There are a few clever ways to fully optimise your website for your audience to further encourage bookings, according to Samantha:
- Keep it focused on hospitality: Make sure you’re promoting what your website visitors are looking for, like your onsite spa, dining options, the rooms on offer, nearby experiences, value-packed offers, loyalty programmes etc.
- Follow a conversion-led design: Ensure that all calls-to-action are prominent and that CTA buttons are easy to find at a glance.
- Make it dynamic: Your website should be able to adapt seamlessly based on whatever device a website visitor is using to view it (with a special focus on mobile-friendliness). Loading times should also be kept to a minimum (ideally no more than three seconds).
- Prioritise user–friendliness: Keep the site CMA simple and ensure clear navigation from page to page.
- Focus on integration: Proper integration allows for the best possible branded customer journey.
Samantha highlights how it’s not just a website’s words or functionality that inspire people to keep looking and, eventually, get booking! The visuals play a huge role, too. Therefore, she encourages hoteliers to opt for imagery depicting real people enjoying real experiences. After all, everyone connects more with visuals of other humans doing things they, themselves, are dreaming of doing. They’re going to feel more inspired looking at a picture of someone sipping on a glass of wine while getting a pedicure than they will be looking at a picture of a standalone wine glass or some random spa products.
Recapturing abandoned bookings
“So, it’s happened again. The guest has left the session without booking… but are you even trying to get the guest back?” asks Samantha.
“There are countless tactics to put into practice to successfully recapture abandoned bookings, such as providing incentives and utilising a retargeting and remarketing strategy.”
- Incentives: Make sure the person clearly understands the benefits of booking direct. Give them a reason (or a few!) to finish what they started.
- Simplicity: Make it as simple and easy as possible for them to change their mind. Short booking forms requesting minimal information tend to work best.
- Messaging: Continue trying to engage with the person, presenting them with relevant, inspiring content and prompts to guide the way towards conversion.
- Flexibility: Give the prospective traveller peace of mind and lots of wiggle room by allowing for multiple booking conditions.
- Retargeting: If the guest leaves, get them back. Never simply turn your attention to the next visitor and hope for better results.
Driving more loyalty
“You attracted a visitor to your website, did everything necessary to keep them there and successfully coaxed them into making a booking. Congratulations! But the job still isn’t done. It’s now a question of how you gain and retain their loyalty going forward,” comments Samantha.
She explains that driving more loyalty doesn’t have to be a complicated affair and advises hoteliers to look at memberships and crafting exclusive loyalty programmes.
“It’s also a great idea to put together packages for different types of guests, such as corporates. Combine flexible and negotiated rates for a higher yield and increased partner trust. Of course, it’s also vital to make redemption simplistic and user-friendly. The best course of action is to offer instant rewards that are easy to book online,” she adds.
Reduce dependency on OTAs for improved profits
In closing, Samantha talks about the importance of optimising direct bookings via a reputable booking engine, like Profitroom, for enhanced profitability and the chance to build stronger, longer-lasting relationships with travellers.
“Save time with automation, treat every single website visitor as precious and strive to reduce dependency on OTAs. Do all this and you’ll see an immediate difference to your bottom line,” she concludes.
Interested in more content like this? Don’t miss the opportunity to attend WTM Africa 2023 from 3 – 5 April at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Early bird registrations are now open!