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Boost Booking Numbers via Effective Use of Online Tools

Online booking options let potential guests conduct business with your establishment 24 hours a day every day of the year — even if you're not answering phones or handling reception desks all those hours. The advent of online booking engines and hotel websites lets customers from around the world find your establishment and arrange services, but to maximise the benefits of the web, you have to know how to use these tools effectively.

Create a Quality Website with Direct Booking Options

While online travel agents offer extended exposure and convenient booking options, it's still important to have your own site. Your business website lets you drive brand awareness and encourage direct bookings, which offer increased ROI because you aren't paying OTA fees on that revenue.

To make the most of your hotel or motel's site, follow some best practises for web design and online content marketing.

  • Build an attractive site that helps customers feel confident in your brand
    • Use branded colours, fonts and design elements for consistency
    • Add pictures and galleries that show your location in the best light
    • Leverage responsive design so the site works on various platforms and browsers
  • Update content regularly to ensure relevance and accuracy
    • Regularly check details such as fees and service listings
    • Keep promotional offers up-to-date
    • Post consistently to any blog or social profiles to remain relevant and engage followers
    • Conduct periodic keyword research and edit content to include phrases that are currently performing

Target Mobile Users

From 2011 through 2015, mobile bookings have increased by approximately 1700 per cent, making it increasingly critical that your site and services are available for mobile users. Choose responsive website templates and designs to support mobile visitors; responsive designs automatically reformat to be displayed appropriately on various devices.

Other ways you can target mobile users include investing in your own booking app or ensuring your hotel is listed in OTA booking apps. You can also include local keywords in your content and claim your business listing on review sites to ensure potential guests looking for a room via their phones can find you.

Incentivise Direct Bookings Through Your Site

Increase revenue from your website by adding value for guests who book direct. Parity clauses probably keep you from offering a lower rate than you offer via OTA sites, but you can add free extras to the basic service or offer completely separate bespoke packages that aren't available via your OTA. Incentives for booking direct might include free breakfasts, a free sweet upon arrival, vouchers for drinks from the hotel bar or a later-than-normal checkout without fee. Bespoke offers could add value atop the basic room rate — which must remain the same as that offered through the OTA. You could partner with local businesses to offer room plus tour, spa or theatre outings.

Make the Most of OTA Arrangements

While direct bookings leave the most profit in your pocket, no hotel or motel can go without an OTA affiliation. Around 76 percent of online booking occurs through online travel agents, making them a powerful marketing force for your business. Ensure all your OTA lists are accurate and up-to-date at all times; consider using a channel manager so you can update information once and push it out to all OTAs. This cuts down on confusion and potential errors that could reduce booking rates.

You can also position your own site and services so guests who originally find you via an OTA eventually book directly through your site. Guests might book their first stay through the OTA, but if they're impressed with your services and you provide the right follow-up information at checkout or via email (if the guest agrees to receive email from you), they are more likely to book direct for future stays.


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