How to convert website traffic from lookers to bookers

05 May 2022
How to convert website traffic from lookers to bookers

There are ways to lure potential guests away from travel agents to your site, with personal touches only a hotel can provide, says Samantha Williams

A mid tough economic times, direct bookings are becoming increasingly important for hotels seeking to maximise their revenues. Although online travel agents (OTAs) still provide a useful source of bookings, their high commission fees dent these benefits, while the properties listed with them also stand directly alongside their competitors – something that makes it harder to stand out.

Despite these drawbacks, OTAs still accounted for 66% of revenue share across the global travel and tourism market in 2021 ­– a huge percentage, but one that leaves hotels with enormous potential to expand direct bookings.

Many would say improving first impressions and focusing on those initially landing on your website would be the way to do this. But while this certainly plays its part, perhaps the largest area for improvement can be found in the final stages of the booking process.

The hotel industry currently has a whopping 82.7% shopping cart abandonment rate, meaning more than four in five online shopping orders will typically be abandoned.

A super-efficient booking engine, that has all the necessary information to hand in as few steps as possible plays a crucial part in this, but there's more hoteliers can do.

Some guests will do background research on your website before going back to book via the OTA, but there are some ways to dissuade them from this.

Wow them with extras

Most OTAs purely sell rooms, so focus on offering packages and extras. Many hotels resort to discount voucher websites to boost their ancillary services sales; however, guests are increasingly looking for unique experiences. A spa or other leisure element is a valuable asset, so get creative maximising the impact of these facilities on revenue.

Offering additional customisable add-ons, such as Champagne on arrival, can present a real opportunity to increase revenue, too.

Content is key

High-resolution images and video are hugely important. A good image is worth a thousand words and a good video even more. Despite this, a staggering number of hotels still don't have professional imagery and even fewer have video content for their properties. People look across multiple platforms to build confidence in a booking – and imagery is integral in that.

Make it personal

When you combine customer relationship management segmentation and automated messaging with powerful data-driven insights, this will help to drive revenue, grow guest engagement and nurture long-term relations. Easy-to-use tools can make personalisation simple, enabling you to effortlessly maintain contact with guests by using their data to segment and automate relevant offers and content.

In this increasingly digital age, there are still instances where guests will prefer a phone call, but only a very small percentage of hotels will confirm an over-the-phone quote in writing, let alone attempt to upsell or follow-up on their offers. Doing this can really help you stand out, while also enabling you to highlight attractive upsells that might pique interest and help increase revenue.

It's about give and take

When a guest does book with you, they provide invaluable data that can be used to bring them back. It's essential this data is added to your database. Our analysis shows that a hotel with an average daily rate of £200 and average stay of two nights can add as much as £100,000 in revenue per year by growing their database by 12,000 contacts. Of course, this is easier said than done, but it's achievable by capturing guest data as often and as early as possible.

Once the guest is on your website, you want to get their details. Special sign-up discounts are a great way of encouraging the transfer of personal contact data, especially if they are applied immediately in return. For example, offering a newsletter sign-up option to the guests and applying a discount instantly to new subscribers can really help drive this.

There's a huge opportunity to increase direct bookings – hoteliers just need to embrace it.

Samantha Williams is commercial director at Profitroom, a provider of SaaS technology and hotel marketing services

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