Multiple studies have shown that more than 50% of business and leisure travellers visits the hotel’s website after discovering it on a booking site (OTA). This is why it is so important to have a modern, user-friendly website that attracts and converts direct bookings. A common mistake a lot of independent hotels seem to make is not having updated their websites since the early 2000’s. The great thing about having an independent hotel is that you have the complete freedom to differentiate yourself from others. So why not show that on your most important marketing tool?
1. User Experience and Design
If you have a poorly designed and outdated website your potential bookers are most likely to think that this reflects your hotel. Don’t lose potential guests with a slow website, complex navigation or a poorly integrated booking system. Once they have decided to book your accommodation, the follow-up should be as fast and easy as possible. You might not have the knowledge or time to create and optimize a modern website, but luckily there are many easy, low-cost ways to have and maintain a professional website, like drag and drop platforms like Squarespace or a CMS like WordPress.
We are a big fan of the WordPress theme called Avada. Avada offers many templates that are designed for Hotels and they have amazing support. Since it’s a total package, you don’t need to invest in other plugins to make your website exceed the guest's expectations. You can change most functionalities with only a few drag-and-drop actions. There are many IT or design students offering help in setting up such a website for you. Low investment, huge pay-off!
2. Online Booking Engine
A hotel website is not complete without a good booking engine. You might think an Online Booking Engine is similar to other Online Travel Agencies your property is connected to, but that is not true. An OBE gives you an advantage because you will not need to pay any commission (in most cases) and your reservations are directly made with you via your own web page, so and you can offer your guests the most value. There are a lot of hotel software providers who can deliver beautiful and responsive booking engines for your website for a fair price.
Also interesting: Make your hotel website as effective as Booking.com
3. Offer incentives
It must be clear to the visitor what the added value of booking at your own website is. Rate parity rules with OTA's can make it difficult to differentiate on price, but there are other ways to make direct booking more attractive by using incentives that add value for the guest. And they don’t have to cost you much. Think of things like offering free breakfast, room upgrades, late check-outs... get creative!
4. A picture says more than a thousand words
So multiple pictures should cover the size of a novel. Now we are not trying to state that this is a matter of quantity. Two quality photos of one hotel room taken in the right light, angle and resolution give a much better impression than ten photos of poor quality trying to show every single object. Let the photos on your hotel website speak for your hotels' personality and guest experience. Not only by showing the properties’ interior and exterior, but also photos that show guests enjoying it.
5. Don’t shy away from reviews
Today’s travellers are looking for real and honest experiences. Nothing says transparency more than sharing reviews on your own website. It is also a great way to engage with your guests after their stay. If you are a bit hesitant about which parts of the reviews you would like to show, TripAdvisor offers a variety of free widgets for your hotel website, from highest ratings to the five most recent unbiased comments.
Read more: Manage your hotel reviews with these tips!
Would you like to receive more direct bookings?
This is possible with our new Booking Engine! With the Smart Booking Engine, your guests can book directly with you with the same ease as with booking sites. Besides giving a professional impression, it also gives you more direct and commission-free bookings. We would like to introduce you to our IBE free of charge. Make a free test reservation now and experience the ease of booking for your guests.
For more than 16 years, SmartHOTEL has been helping hoteliers navigate the exciting world of online distribution. From our office based in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, our team serves independent hotels, hostels and chains worldwide by providing channel management and tailored online distribution solutions. A lot has changed over the last years, but our goal remains the same: simply connect hotels to the world. For any questions regarding our services, please contact us at email@example.com or call +31 (0)182 75 11 18.