When travellers think about making a booking, many of them think of a few Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) – those big brands such as Booking.com and Expedia, that dominate website bookings. How can independent hoteliers and activity providers compete with them for direct reservations? Despite owning the product that many guests are looking for when they travel, independent hoteliers and activity providers find themselves without the branding and the budget to increase the reservations they do from their own websites. They reluctantly depend on the OTA, who takes a big part (if not all) of their revenue per reservation.
The budgets of the giant OTAs allow them to spend a big amount of money in paid traffic, which constantly brings travellers to their websites. They also have an in-house army of engineers to develop all the necessary online tools to convert website visits into bookings, like embedded customer reviews.
Luckily for independent hoteliers, there are now powerful tools available to help them catch up with the giants. The review management system innova, has carried out a full API integration into Google My Business, which allows hoteliers to show their Google reviews gathered from their GMB page on their own website.
There are the four crucial tools an independent hotelier or activity provider website needs to have in order to increase direct reservations and loosen the OTA grip.
User generated content (UGC)
Travelers trust their peers. We know they base their decisions on experiences of fellow guests when booking a hotel or a holiday activity. Those shared experiences and opinions are user-generated content (UGC) known as guests reviews or testimonials, and we now know they have more credibility than any other type of content or marketing campaign.
Numbers are impressive: 95% of consumers read reviews before booking a trip, which means they are an undeniable important part of the travel buying process.
Many independent hoteliers are pinning their hopes on TripAdvisor, social media and email to help them make the most of guest reviews. But they are overlooking a powerful in-house tool that could help them really harness the power of UGC: guests reviews embedded on their own website. Using an effective Reviews Management tool like innova hoteliers can easily embed reviews on their holiday accommodation website, and enjoy the SEO benefits that this keyword-rich content can add to their site.
If travelers look for reviews in determining their accommodation, it’s imperative to include them into the hotelier own website. It’s there where reviews can be part of a process that actually increases direct online bookings and creates qualified leads. Interactive features
Chat, messenger and other similar tools are an ideal way to interact with web visitors and convert the “looker” into a “booker”. They enable hoteliers and activity providers to offer customized deals. They increase trust and give transparency to the website. Moreover, they help create a relationship with the customer, even before they have made a booking.
Reviews from previous guests can also be embedded on a website in the form of a pop-up window and be used as an interactive feature that reinforces the direct bookings process.
Images are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. First impressions are formed in seconds. Images allow a greater understanding of whatever it’s been trying to be communicated and they play a key role in creating a good experience to a guest visiting a website.
Most of the information travellers consume and absorb when looking to book a trip, hotel or activity, is visual. Quality imagery in the website of the hotelier or activity provider, can make those travellers perceive the brand or business as credible and trustworthy.
This is why in the travel and hospitality industry, features as simple as good quality photos of the hotel, play such a crucial role in the decision making process.
Price comparison with OTAs
Independent hoteliers and activity providers need to inform travellers visiting their websites if their price is lower than the one offered by an OTA. Giving guests that information, clearly encourages direct bookings and creates brand loyalty at the same time.
This can be done by adding a price comparison in the booking engine itself and by using messages to alert customers of special deals and direct booking savings. As you can see, if you are an independent hotelier without the big budget of Booking.com, there are still great features you can add to your website to get those desirable direct reservations. Get started now! Grab a free demo and start sharing your Google and Facebook reviews on your own website.