Hotel website: How to increase direct revenue on your hotel website?
A survey conducted by WYSE Travel Confederation among 57,000 travelers under the age of 30, revealed that 47% of this demographic book their accommodation on OTAs! It’s a figure that’s prompting more and more hoteliers to take an interest in the matter and promote their hotel websites.
Online travel agencies (OTAs) are often criticized for cannibalizing the direct sales of independent hotels, “brandjacking” Google search results (in SEO and SEA), and charging ever higher commissions for hotel room bookings.
The trend shows that OTAs keep getting stronger over time, and are gaining ever greater weight in hotels’ turnover.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes
To create a high-performance website, it’s crucial to put yourself in the shoes of your target clientele:
- What are your audience’s expectations in terms of room types, services offered, comfort levels, and site location?
- Are they looking for a quiet or lively atmosphere?
- Do they prefer to engage in a variety of sporting and cultural activities, or are they looking for a place to relax and unwind?
- Is your target market mainly made up of couples, friends, business travelers, or families?
This in-depth understanding of your customer base will enable you to create a well-defined buyer persona profile. This will guide you in the design of the user journey and the presentation of corresponding content.
After all, you aim to strike the right balance between the visual impact that visitors will feel as soon as they arrive on your website, and the ease of navigation needed to arouse their interest, keep them on your pages, and convert them into direct bookers.
Offer your rooms at a preferential rate on your hotel website
It’s important to specify on the reservation page that the best rate for booking a room in your establishment is on your official website.
The next step is to promote your preferential rates directly to your customers. Let the customer know that they are getting the best rate. This way, they won’t be tempted to compare prices on another platform. To convert future customers, it’s essential to offer rooms at a lower rate on your official website.
Stand out from the crowd with your hotel website
One of the major advantages hoteliers have is the ability to stand out when Internet users visit their hotel website. Your website should be designed in your image, highlighting what makes your hotel unique.
Make a good first impression
Keep in mind that the first page a visitor sees on your site is the home page or that of your booking engine. The latter must be clear, easy to access, and highlight the advantage of booking direct for the traveler.
Visually overloaded pages, especially the home page, tend to be less effective and less attractive. So simplifying both design and navigation is of paramount importance in encouraging direct bookings. Considering these kinds of details helps maximize your revenue potential.
By simplifying navigation, not only do you speed up the load times of your site, but you also help your customers easily find the information they’re looking for. Keep your website’s load speed as fast as possible to avoid losing your visitors.
Finally, consider designing your hotel website with a responsive design, that adapts to all devices, especially mobile, as 70% of searches are now done on mobile. Facilitate conversions by adding clearly visible calls-to-action (CTA) on your pages, such as “BOOK NOW”.
Optimize your hotel website’s user experience
It’s vital that your website is designed in a user-friendly way. Fast, fluid navigation, simple menus, and a clean, attractive design will make all the difference in capturing the attention of web users.
What’s more, it’s essential to ensure that your hotel website has been designed with your target audience in mind. If you’re targeting leisure-seeking tourists, it’s important to highlight not only the advantages of your establishment but also the charms of the region. For business travelers, a streamlined web design, accompanied by links and relevant information, can greatly facilitate the booking process.
Make essential information visible
Your website is your hotel’s showcase. From the moment they arrive on the home page, travelers should instantly grasp the nature of your hotel and why you meet their expectations.
Share the information they’re looking for in a clear and accessible way:
- Precise location and address via a geolocation map along with the main locations/attractions around your establishment.
- Key information such as reception opening hours, check-in and check-out times, services and activities, disabled access, parking facilities, etc.
- Rates for your rooms and services.
- Latest events and tourist news about your destination.
- Clear contact page with your contact details, a contact form, and buttons to your social networks.
Convey emotion through visuals
Presenting beautiful photos and videos to highlight your direct offers will help you stand out from the competition and showcase your establishment.
It’s vital not to overlook the importance of visuals: photos and videos of rooms and the hotel are a decisive factor in customers’ choices. Indeed, research shows that when it comes to making a decision, images provide greater clarity and carry more weight than written information. The emotional charge of photos and videos is often very convincing.
Make sure you present your establishment in the best light by using quality photos and videos (even 360° videos) and highly descriptive content. Don’t forget to highlight the facilities and services you offer in addition to your accommodations.
Pay a special attention to your bedroom pages
The quality of the visuals must be excellent, but they must also reflect reality to avoid losing bookings or damaging your online reputation through negative feedback.
Compose a descriptive text that highlights the style, decoration, equipment and services offered. Be sure to also include rates with a prominent “Book” button. When a traveler visits a room type on your website, create a sense of urgency and affluence by indicating “X people have already booked this day” or “There are only X rooms left”.
Finally, to make reading easier, we recommend listing the assets of each room with bullet points or icons, as on the La Fonda Heritage hotel website we created.
Offer exclusivity on certain products on the hotel website
The official website must be at the heart of your digital distribution. It’s there to attract visitors, seduce them, and then convert them into customers. That’s why it’s vital that the site is simple and attractive to users, from the very first seconds they spend visiting it. But that’s not all.
To attract their attention even more, offering exclusivity on certain products on the official site can be very beneficial in generating more direct bookings. You can also offer a “direct booking” discount to visitors, to encourage them to book directly via your hotel website.
Have a multilingual hotel website
To get more bookings, make your website multilingual. Ideally, you should identify the languages most spoken by your customers.
Then you need to take the time to translate your website properly, using a professional translation service. This will enable customers from different parts of the world to feel more comfortable and engaged with your site.
It will also enable you to position yourself at the top of search engine results pages worldwide, boosting your SEO and gaining traffic.
Offer more flexible cancellation conditions on the hotel website
Consider updating cancellation conditions to make travelers feel more comfortable during the booking process. It also offers peace of mind.
Indeed, the possibility of modifying or canceling a reservation may encourage them to book. Flexible cancellation conditions can also allow travelers to obtain a full refund, including all charges if they cancel at least 24 hours before the local arrival time.
Communicate with your customer base to encourage them to book directly next time
For many of us, travel is an unforgettable experience. The hotel we stay in, its welcome, breakfast and services are all important aspects of the customer experience. These are the things that will keep your guests coming back to your hotel, or recommend it to friends and family in the future.
Take advantage of your customers’ stay to ask directly for their contact details, especially from OTAs (online travel agencies), and build up a personal database. Use this information to cultivate a long-distance relationship, via SMS or email campaigns.
Keep your customers informed of new products and services, and offer them preferential rates to encourage them to return. Maintain this link so that they think of your hotel when planning their next stay and choose to book directly via your hotel website.
- For wellness enthusiasts: offer relevant experiences such as spa services, and individual or group fitness classes, either in-house or in partnership with external providers. Include a section with points of interest in the region to inspire these travelers.
- For mobile teleworkers: highlight your meeting rooms, seminar facilities, strong WiFi connection, and in-room workspaces.
Take advantage of remarketing
Potential guests tend to visit a website several times before booking a stay. So it’s crucial to offer each visit a unique, intelligent experience that meets their needs.
Reward your returning visitors
Remarketing is an effective way of re-engaging visitors to come back to your website and giving them another opportunity to book directly with you. This can be done via emails, remarketing campaigns, and dynamic ads.
The first visit most often corresponds to the discovery phase, the ideal moment to capture the traveler’s attention and keep it! Communicate effectively on your hotel’s unique assets: if you have a breathtaking view of the city, for example, highlight it on the home page of your website.
Use pop-ups intelligently
Interacting with your visitors at every stage of their visit to your hotel website, according to your occupancy rate or seasonality, increases the chances of converting them.
To do this, you can set up attractive pop-ups such as a welcome gift, a promotion for a direct booking, a seasonal promotional offer, or a discount on the spa for a traveler about to leave your site.
Use pop-up forms to boost visitor conversion and grow your subscriber list. This will effectively engage travelers and encourage them to book at your establishment. When your guests see such notifications, their curiosity is aroused and they become more inclined to book with you directly.
However, don’t go overboard with pop-ups: as mentioned above, a clear, uncluttered design is key! Don’t exhaust the visitor with too many pop-ups.
Highlight your hotel’s unique selling points
This is a must, especially if you’re facing strong local competition. It’s always a good idea to highlight your unique selling points.
If your facilities are rather simple, don’t hesitate to highlight your exceptional service and/or proximity to popular tourist sites and attractive travel destinations. Do you offer airport or train station transfer services?
Highlighting these extra high-quality services is crucial to attracting business travelers and budget tourists alike.
Don’t neglect your search engine optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process used to rank your hotel’s website on search engines for quality and quantity of traffic.
It starts with the name of your establishment. There are many ways to discover an establishment on the Internet (professional articles, OTAs, metasearch, listings, etc.). So when a web surfer types in the name of your establishment, you absolutely must be in 1st position.
This means setting up the right parameters in Google Search Console and optimizing your website technically so that Google’s robots can better read and understand your website’s content and position it at the top of the search results.
Your hotel website needs to appear when customers search for a hotel in your area. That’s why you need a solid SEO strategy.
Make sure your hotel’s website contains rich content, with relevant search terms incorporated naturally to generate maximum clicks when potential customers perform a Google search. Incorporate hotel-specific terms, but also consider more generic terms that focus on your location, nearby attractions, and amenities.
Rely on performance analysis
You need to keep a close eye on how travelers interact with your website, in order to identify their browsing patterns and draw the right conclusions from their behavior. You can analyze several key performance indicators (KPIs) such as a number of sessions, engagement rate, conversion rate, average shopping basket, etc.
If your performance isn’t up to scratch, it may be due to your site, whose weak points need to be identified and your overall sitemap studied.
The digital distribution of your establishment is not an easy task. Many factors come into play when you want to make your website the primary online booking channel for your establishment.
Having a fast, attractive website, offering preferential rates, highlighting your direct offers, and being more flexible in your cancellation policies are the pillars you need to put in place to significantly increase your direct bookings.
You now have the key to increasing direct bookings on your hotel website and reducing the share of OTAs in your sales.