The travel industry today is highly fragmented. Travel shoppers use many different channels, primarily online, to research and book travel. But no channel is more profitable than your hotel website. Your website should be driving the majority of your bookings, with OTAs simply supplementing your efforts.
Darlene Rondeau, VP Best Practices & Online Merchandising at Leonardo, was recently invited by the American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) to discuss techniques to increase conversions on your hotel website. Here is a brief recap of her tips:
1. Tell Your Unique Story
Your website is your digital storefront, it’s your opportunity to tell travel shoppers how your property will satisfy their needs better than any other in your comp set. To do this, you should use visual storytelling; a blend of words, images, captions, videos and virtual tours to showcase what makes you unique.
High-quality visuals capture travel shoppers’ attention. This is because, as humans, we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Studies have also shown that people remember images longer. So using the right mix of visuals and descriptive text can help make you memorable as travel shoppers move through the shopping journey, and ultimately help you win the direct booking.
2. Lead With Your Guest Rooms
We analyzed more than 500 million pieces of media viewed by travel shoppers, and unsurprisingly, guest rooms are the most-viewed image type. Travel shoppers want to see where they will be sleeping and what amenities your guest rooms include, so lead with this on your homepage.
Also provide photos of each type of guest room, taken from multiple angles, so travelers can really get a feel for the space. Take photos of the bed, desk, TV, bathroom, balcony and other features in your rooms – anything that will help them imagine themselves staying there.
3. Provide Social Proof
Social proof is defined as independent third-party feedback that gives travel shoppers the boost in confidence they need to book your hotel. It includes anything generated by someone else: guest reviews, ratings, awards, etc.
Travel shoppers will search for this information before booking, so it’s important to include it on your website. Don’t give them a reason to leave your site, and potentially book with a competitor. Embed elements of social proof, like TripAdvisor reviews, directly on your website.
4. Promote Special Offers
Special offers can be the final nudge someone needs to book direct, so include a dedicated Special Offers page on your website. Special offers don’t have to be centered on price. They just need to provide additional value to travel shoppers. This could be something as simple as an early check-in, faster Wi-Fi, a free gift upon arrival, or first pick of the best rooms.