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How to increase direct bookings as an accommodation provider

How to increase direct bookings as an accommodation provider

Increasing direct bookings as an accommodation provider is extremely important whatever type of accommodation you offer to guests. With online travel agents taking more in commission each year, the power to drive guests and returning guests to your website or call you direct is where you can get the biggest slice of the revenue pie.

 

In this article Seekom are giving you the tips and tricks you need to increase your direct bookings in 2021.

1. Offer the best price by booking direct

Now this first tip should hopefully be a no-brainer to you as an accommodation provider. If your accommodation's direct rate is the lowest rate that a guest can find for your accommodation - you're instantly more likely to secure that guests bookings with you directly. A guests nature is to book the accommodation type they're after for the best price. If your price is the best and you're offering what they are looking for - you'll get that booking. Now offering the direct rate, whether it be on your website or elsewhere, comes with some action points in itself which we'll list below.

Offer the Best Price by Booking Direct

2. Make sure your website has been optimised and performs well

If you have a website for your accommodation business (if you don't you should look at getting one) you hopefully have your rates on your website lower than other channels. As mentioned above - this way you can secure more direct bookings.

 

However if the potential guest comes to your website and it doesn't perform to the expectation levels - then they are likely to leave and book elsewhere - even book your exact property but on another channel which we have seen happen here at Seekom.

 

Below are some common website tips that providers don't do, or don't do well enough, when not using our website services. 

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  • Mobile responsive website - if your website isn't mobile responsive, you're instantly losing bookings. Google states that 63% of it's search traffic originates from mobile devices. With the percentage increasing every year - it's pivotal to have your website optimized for mobile. Google also indexes your website from your mobile version.

 

  • Photos of your accommodation - great photos lead to more bookings. The better your photos are of your property or properties, the more bookings you get. It pays to use a professional photographer to make sure your rooms and units are engaging and inviting, enticing the guest to book with you.

 

  • Video - Why scroll through an entire website when you get an idea of the room types, property and surrounding area all in a 30 second video?  That's the thinking of the market at the moment. Instant answers is what the new generation wants, and a video provides that for them quickly and efficiently. (you can also add it to social media and other platforms too).

 

  • SEO - Search Engine Optimisation. If you haven't heard this term before - you need too. Google (the biggest search engine in the world) has a number of factors that rank your website against other websites in order to figure out what to show first to the user for their search term / query. In simple terms, the better your SEO for your website, the better you rank in Google, the higher you are shown for queries such as "Accommodation in New Zealand" and the more direct bookings you get. There are many SEO tools out there, but we would suggest at first try using one for free such as UberSuggest.

 

  • Deals - Incentivize the user to book direct and promote repeat customers by promoting a deal when they do. This can be done in many ways but simple methods are ones such as "get 5% off when you book direct" or "get a free bottle of wine when you book direct" etc. We'll leave this part up to your imagination and what you can offer - but think outside the box. Local tour guides, restaurant discounts and gift baskets and free shuttle from their drop-off location are always popular. You can also promote this on social media as well!

3. Digital Marketing

So you've got the lowest price on your website compared to other channels, you've done work on your website and have started offering incentives to book direct, but what's next?

 

Promoting your business online is all about ROI (Return on Investment), or in the sphere of Digital Marketing - ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). First off, lets list the basics;

 

 

Social Media Direct Bookings Seekom

The above four are the most commonly used platforms to promote your business. Each platform works differently for each business and also industry. It's always best to trial each one out using similar objectives to make sure you are using the best stack of platforms to get results.

 

It's also really important to have Google Analytics installed on your website. This will allow you to gather data and metrics about what is happening on your website, it will also allow you to track the different marketing campaigns and make decisions on what to do next based on the data you get. (You can also see the revenue made on your website through the booking screens if you turn on the eCommerce module and link it to Seekom!) There is a bit to learn in terms of navigating Google Analytics and what the output of data actually means, but once you get a hold of the basics through some tutorials you will be able to advertise more efficiently and effectively.

 

Often we see that operators want to use marketing methods, but don't know where to start. We suggest either using an Agency (which can be expensive),  a freelancer or learning it yourself (online courses, YouTube, and Google help, but you can also use your local commerce division or other areas to get assistance which can sometimes be free.)

 

The most important thing to note however is that if you are paying someone else to do this for you, you should learn the basics and common terminology that is being used so that you can figure out if that particular agency or person is doing a good job.

 

Marketing definitely works if it's done correctly in terms of generating revenue, it's just a matter of finding out which methods work best for your business to give you the highest ROAS.

 

If you'd like to learn more about how to can better market yourself online, feel free to get in touch with Seekom and we can point you in the right direction, or give you some handy tips.

 

4. Connect with Local Businesses

A simple method of improving your direct bookings is to connect with some local businesses in your area.

 

For example, you could promote a certain restaurant on your website and other platforms, and they return the favour as well. This can lead to a few extra bookings a month - as often most people would have already booked accommodation before they are in the area - but you never know and it really costs you nothing (as long as the businesses you're referring are reputable).

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5. Google Hotel Ads

Relatively new to the New Zealand accommodation market, Google Hotel Ads has been causing quite a stir. Here at Seekom we've recently partnered with myhotelshop to provides this service, so that we can get our customers more direct bookings.

 

Google Hotel Ads is seperate to the Google Ads platform - it displays your accommodation to a person when they are in the "discovery" phase of planning their accommodation. The ads show in a number of different places, such as Google Maps, Google My Business and more, but the important thing to note is that the OTA's are already using this service. They are actively promoting your property via their channel to secure those bookings.

 

Statistics from myhotelshop - state that the average accommodation provider can increase their revenue somewhere between 10-30% in a single year using this service.

 

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of Google Hotel Ads, please click here to read more info on our website.

Below is also a webinar we held on the subject with Matea from myhotelshop.

 

6. Google My Business

Our last tip for this article is to be active on Google My Business. For those readers who aren't aware of what this is, it's your business profile on Google (who would've thought?)

 

Here you can manage your operational hours (an important query often asked by guests), reviews, photos, business information such as location. Google My Business also provides a role in where your website ranks - with some data suggesting that the more reviews, the better for your website ranking.

 

If you have a guest that has had an awesome stay and communicates this to you or your staff, suggest to them to leave you a nice google review, or even better yet put it in your post departure email.

 

Responding to reviews in a professional manner and making sure each one is personalized actually correlates to an increase in bookings and repeat guests - your business comes across as sincere and genuine and that you've taken time out of your day to reply to them.

 

As well as the reviews and information management, it also works in tandem with Google Hotel Ads, as mentioned above in the previous tip.

7. Conclusion

With so much going on often it can seem like too much to handle alongside running an accommodation business. But if you take each action point listed here, as well as employ your own methods and do your own research, you will be on a sure path to engaging more potential guests, getting more direct bookings, and making more revenue.

Ben works at Seekom as our Digital Services Manager, working mostly on outbound Digital Marketing, Website Sales and our Google Hotel Ads integration.

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