In this guide you’re going to get 15 simple ways to increase direct bookings on your website.
Make up the numbers during quiet seasons or maximise profits during busy periods using these easy tips…
1. Use Call to Actions
You may have come across the term ‘CTA’ before and just brushed it off as technical jargon.
But, call to actions are a lot simpler than you might think.
And, they’re crucial for gaining more online bookings.
Basically, a call to action is an instruction you’re giving the user. It’s you telling them to do something. Here are some examples:
There’s hundreds of statistics to prove that call to actions increase sales and conversions, so you need to make sure you have them on your website.
Place buttons such as ‘Book Now’ and ‘View our Deals’ on each page to direct users to your booking platform.
(Bonus tip – CTAs that look like buttons can increase clicks by 45%).
2. Create incentives during quiet periods
Quiet periods are tough for most in the hotel industry, with some smaller businesses struggling to make ends meet.
To increase online bookings during your quiet spells, offer users incentives to book directly with you. Here’s some free features you could offer:
- Free Wi-Fi
- Room upgrade
- Restaurant voucher
- Spa voucher
- Free parking
- Movie access pass
3. Set up Google AdWords
With 57% of leisure and business travellers starting their travel plans with a Google search, ads are the perfect way to capture users at the beginning of their journey.
Choose the search terms you want to target, customise your campaign and only pay when someone clicks on your ad.
For a more detailed introduction to this kind of advertising, take a look at this guide to Google Ads for Hotels.
4. Make the most of social media
With 40% of millennial travellers (aged 18-33) now stating that their choice of travel destination depends on how ‘Instagrammable’ it is, making your hotel appealing on social media is crucial.
79% of the UK use Facebook, 47% use Twitter and 41% use Instagram, so it’s an easy way to target a large portion of your target market.
Marriott International are a great example of how to promote your hotel on social media.
They post beautiful photos of their various locations, showcase their delicious menu options at the restaurants and put their staff in the spotlight by sharing heart-warming stories.
Build brand awareness and use the link features on social platforms to direct users to your website to increase bookings.
5. Optimise with SEO
What is SEO?
Search engine optimisation.
The process of optimising your website to appear higher in search engine rankings. For example, if someone searches ‘Hotel London’, you would use specific keywords around this search term to appear higher up.
You can use tools like SEM Rush to find out what keywords people are searching for around the keyword you’re trying to target, here’s a snippet:
The higher up you are in search results, the more clicks you get. The more clicks, the more direct bookings.
6. Create an excellent user journey
To create a good user journey for your website, your first need to ask yourself:
What’s the purpose of my website? What action do I want users to perform?
Since you’re reading this post about how to increase bookings, I’m guessing your websites purpose is to create online bookings.
Each page should lead the user through the sales funnel. When they’ve reached the end of a page, say your ‘about us’ page, place a call to action that tells them to take a look at the facilities you offer.
Once they’ve read the facilities page, place a call to action that tells them to book their stay today.
Encouraging users through the sales funnel is a simple way to increase online bookings.
7. Represent your brand
Does your website represent your brand well?
Is it a true representation of your brand?
Everything that makes up your website, including colours, images, style, font and wording, should be clear and consistent.
It should be instantly recognisable as your brand. This consistency creates trust and maintains loyalty which means users are much more likely to book direct through your website.
8. Create exclusive packages
A sure way to increase your direct bookings fast is to create exclusive packages that users can’t find anywhere else.
Here are some ideas for packages you could offer users at an exclusive rate when booked directly through your website:
- Seasonal packages e.g. family Christmas package with a visit to Santa’s Grotto
- Romantic weekend for two including a meal in the restaurant
- Hiking enthusiast package that includes a guided tour around the local countryside
- Relaxation package with access to the on-site spa
9. Encourage guests to book again
Take advantage of the face to face interaction when guests are checking out of your hotel.
If they booked through an online travel agency, give them a 10% off voucher for direct bookings when planning their next visit.
You could also explain that booking direct ensures they get the very best deals.
10. Collect reviews
Not only do reviews create trust and transparency with users, but they also help you rank higher in Google’s search results.
With 88% of travellers filtering out hotels with an average star rating below three, you can’t afford to miss out on raking in the five star reviews.
Read this guide on how to improve guest experience in your hotel to find simple tips for collecting highly rated reviews and recommendations.
11. Install an instant chat
There are so many questions that may arise when trying to book a hotel online.
“Is there parking nearby?”
“Are you dog friendly?”
“What time do you serve breakfast?”
If you haven’t covered everything on your website, users may have to get in touch to find out this vital information before booking.
The traditional customer service routes are phone and email. They work just fine, but customers might be left on hold for too long or may not have time to speak on the phone. When it comes to email, it can take hours or days for companies to respond to enquiries.
Instant chat is live and gets questions answered immediately, which allows users to make their booking there and then.
12. Use a visual tour
Let users get a real life tour of your hotel without even needing to step foot into the door.
If they are unsure about the facilities or room set up, virtual tours are the perfect way to showcase your brilliant hotel and encourage them to book online.
It’s another way to create trust and transparency with users, which is essential for increasing direct bookings online.
For some inspiration, take a look at these amazing virtual hotel tours.
13. Showcase reviews
You’ve worked hard to gain an impressive collection of highly rated reviews and recommendations, don’t forget to show them off!
They might sit on Google and Facebook which is great, but display them on your website to get extra visibility.
If you’re selling one of your services or packages on your website, include a review that speaks highly of this specific feature.
Users are much more likely to trust what other people say about your hotel which will encourage them to book directly with you.
14. Use email marketing
Email marketing is a powerful tool which you can certainly use to your advantage.
It’s a cost-effective, fast and profitable way of driving more traffic to your website. It allows you to consistently communicate with a large database of people who are interested in your services.
This allows you to advertise deals, events, new features and other special occasions which will help increase direct bookings through your website.
15. Ensure your website is mobile friendly
With 52.2% of all traffic coming from mobile, you need to make sure your website is mobile friendly.
The best way to make sure it is?
Test it yourself using your phone.
As the screen is so much smaller, you may need to adjust layouts, buttons, menus, text and images.
A button that works fine on desktop might be far too small and unreadable on mobile.
A menu that is user friendly for a laptop might be too big too fit on a mobile screen which doesn’t allow users to navigate through the site.
Making your website user friendly is a crucial step to increase your direct bookings.