In the current economic climate, it has never been more important to invest in online marketing. It may seem like an easy cut-back to make in the short-term, but doing so can have the potential to harm your business in the long-term.
Many hoteliers are implementing online marketing strategies in order to improve traffic to their website and their look-to-book ratio.
The Big Agency, a recently launched digital marketing agency from Great Hotels Organisation, offers their top ten tips on how hoteliers can improve traffic to their website and increase online bookings.
1. Website design
Your website is effectively your shop window and should be an accurate reflection of your product. Make sure it is unique, eye-catching and interesting and most importantly – easy to navigate. Ensure it represents the standard of your hotel well. Research your target audience and tailor your website towards them. Pictures can speak a thousand words so make sure you include stunning up-to date images.
2. Online booking engine
With research showing that up to half the people who look for a hotel online actually convert visits to online bookings, online reservation is one of the most profitable and valuable booking options for independent luxury hotels. An easy-to-use online booking engine is a quick way of increasing profitability and developing your online strategy. Web-only bookings take away the cost of traditional, more expensive channels and allow a far greater flexibility to manage demand and yield. This makes online reservations the most profitable and valuable option for all hotels.
3. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO allows independent hotels to achieve higher rankings in specific search categories. SEO is the best investment you can make in terms of online return on investment. Your website should be optimised for brand and location searches and should ideally appear in the top five results for these searches. If your site does not appear in these searches, there are a number of solutions to improve your ranking. Consult your online marketing agency or SEO company for suggestions.
4. Booking options
Make sure it is easy for consumers to make a booking. Ensure you have a “book now” button and an internationalphone number visible on all pages. A customer request form is also a useful tool as long as you manage it properly and are sure to respond to all enquiries.
5. Images and guest reviews
Offer clients the facility to leave reviews of your hotel and upload their own photos on your website. Potential guests browsing the website are much more likely to book after reading honest reviews and seeing real photos. Ensure that you monitor and respond to the reviews carefully.
Make sure your website has the flexibility to allow you to update and manage it easily, (content management system, CMS). Content should be relevant and up-to-date and you should be able to manage the structure of your site and track all its pages.
With the internet reaching so many corners of the globe, it is important to offer several languages on your website in order to reach all potential guests. By limiting your website to one language, you are effectively limiting your potential market.
8. Useful links
Links to your website are a crucial element of how your website is ranked by search engines. Implement a link building strategy by offering a “useful links” page with suggestions of services consumers might need such as car rental, local restaurants and airlines. Ask these companies to link back to your site. Ensure links are of a quality standard and that there are no broken links. The more sites are linking to you, the more accessible your site will become.
Offering consumers the option to sign-up to a newsletter is an easy way of increasing your consumer database and communicating with potential clients you know are interested in your product. You can also offer special discounts to those consumers who have signed up, increasing loyalty.
10. Special Offers
Recommend special offers and packages on your website and your newsletter. They don’t necessarily have to offer low prices, many consumers are more drawn towards luxury extras such as a romantic dinner, spa treatments or room upgrade. You can also track how many clicks these special offers receive to determine which are the most popular.