The hotel industry is a very competitive space. When travellers are looking at booking a hotel or serviced apartment for their stay, the options available to them are often countless. The competitive environment in which hotels operate makes it crucial for them to get the basics right and adopt measures to ensure guests will easily find them.
We have identified six ways for every hotelier to increase online visibility and win new direct bookings.
1. Audit your hotel website
Creating a good-looking and easy-to-navigate website is the first important step for gaining online visibility, but it is of equal importance to audit the website regularly. By auditing the website you can find out if there are broken links that are penalising your website ranking and if your content is still relevant or it needs to be updated.
It is good practice not only to constantly update the website but also to regularly audit the website to avoid the issue are preventing your hotel to attract more travellers.
2. Improve your website’s SEO
Search engines, and most notably Google, are hugely important for any business in the travel and hospitality sector. Search Engine Optimisation continues to play a crucial role in driving direct bookings, with at least 30% to 35% of hotel website revenue generated as a direct result of organic search engine referrals (HEBS, 2018). However, hotels need to be at the top of the first Search Engine Results Page (SERP) to see significant results from their SEO strategy. Only the top positions on the first page of results get an average of 20% CTR, as the 10th position gets a CTR of about 8%(Ignite Visibility 2018). It is certainly interesting to notice that 49% of people who search on Google don’t click anywhere, but just stay on that first SERP (Ed Purnell, 2019).
Despite the challenges of achieving a top position on the first page of results, a search engine like Google – which sees 5.6 billion searches per day – is an opportunity too big to be ignored. Hence, 54% of travel suppliers state that the top area for customer acquisition is SEO (EyeForTravel, 2018).
3. Be social
Social media have radically changed the way we interact, communicate and share experiences, and their growth gives no sign of slowing down. There are now 3.484 billion active social media users around the world. This number represents 45% of the world’s population and an increase of 280 million since January 2018 (source).
Social media channels, and in particular Facebook and Instagram, represent an opportunity for hotels that is too big to be ignored. Create a social media strategy to make the most of the different channels will help your hotel gain visibility and credibility. Find out our social media marketing tips for hotels in this blog post.
4. Pay your way
To break through the noise and stand out from the crowd, your hotel needs to be supported by solid and effective advertising campaigns that can reach the right customers, at the right time, with the right price. While many marketing activities can be carried out in-house, for a winning advertising strategy that will help your hotel win more business you may need help.
As giants of the likes of Booking.com and TripAdvisor have an indefinite budget that can spend on campaigns and retargeting, it is very important for hoteliers to spend their resources wisely. Marketing agencies, such as DHM Marketing or 80 Days, specialise in helping hotels, small or big, with SEO strategies, social media and PPC campaigns that can generate more direct business.
5. Use third party channels, aka the OTAs
Research conducted by Google found that today’s online travel consumer is exposed to more than 38,983 micro-moments in any 60-day timeframe and visits an average of 18 websites via multiple devices across eight sessions before making a hotel booking.
Like it or not, in the last few years the OTAs have been investing wisely and heavily in both marketing initiatives and technology solutions to the point that they managed to engage with travellers throughout the entire customer journey, acquire them as their own customers and keep them engaged thereafter. The result is simple: independent hotels have lost not only direct business but also the ability to engage directly with customers that ultimately the OTAs own more than they do.
It is, therefore, necessary for hotels to have a presence on third-party channels, such as Booking.com, to gain that visibility that is vital, but it is equally important that hotels communicate the values and benefits of booking direct – cheaper rates and special offers. Companies like Avvio – which developed the first AI booking engine – help hotels gain more direct business and promise a significant uplift in direct bookings. Here at Criton, we help hotels and serviced apartments to create their own mobile app to engage and retain guests, creating a close circle that gives the power back to independent operators.
6. Measure and monitor
Measuring and monitoring marketing initiatives is a key component of a successful business. While adopting best practices helps to avoid common mistakes, there is no one single solution that suits everyone. Monitoring performance enables hotels to listen and learn from their guests, their needs and understand what they are looking for. This gives hotels the information needed to create a profile of their ideal customer, which is particularly useful to narrow down the range of marketing activities and be more focused and targeted.
This article was originally posted on the Criton website and is shared with their permission.