Online bookings are today a big part of any hotel revenues. Various studies peg this figure at anywhere between 57% to 65% of the overall bookings. Investing in an online presence can thus make a big difference to your hotel’s top line growth. In this article, we will take you through a step by step guide on how to achieve this.
Step 1: Create OTA profiles
Most travelers make use of OTA (Online travel agent) portals to make their hotel booking. The leaders in this space include the likes of Booking.com, Expedia and MakeMyTrip. Creating a profile for your hotel on these portals is the quintessential first step to building an online presence. Integrate your hotel’s booking engine with these OTA portals so that you can instantly start accepting bookings from all these various websites.
Apart from this, it is also important to create your business profile on Google My Business (GMB). Such local listings are important to capture traffic from prospective customers who look up Google and book directly through the hotel support line.
Step 2: Capture professional photos and videos of your premise
There is a ton of horror stories online that various travelers have shared with respect to the unclean hotel rooms that they decided to stay in. Rich visuals showcasing the tidy rooms in your hotel can make a big difference to the conversion rate of your business. Hire photographers who can capture professional photos and videos your rooms and amenities – this goes a long way in driving conversion from OTA websites.
Step 3: Build customer reviews
Besides photos and videos, reviews play a big part in a customer’s decision making. Unfortunately, happy guests are not as motivated to leave a positive review about your hotel as much as unhappy guests are inclined to leave a negative review. It is thus important to actively seek reviews from each of your hotel guests.
You can set up automation systems that automatically seek reviews from customers who have just checked out. This helps your business scale your review up considerably which is an important parameter for visibility on OTA platforms (as well as Google and other local listing pages).
Step 4: Invest in social media marketing
As a hotel marketer, you may be tempted to attract customers of all kinds – tourists, business travelers or otherwise. This can be a disastrous strategy since your customers fail to associate with your hotel’s offering. As a first step, create a positioning statement that elaborately describes what kind of hotel you want to be. For example, you may want to be the destination for domestic tourists who like to enjoy a sumptuous breakfast buffet. Having a clear positioning as this allows you to build a brand towards this.
For instance, in this case, you may want to prominently showcase the breakfast you serve in your hotel. Sharing professional videos from daily buffets can be a great social media strategy to build a brand and establish a steady stream of direct customers to your hotel.
Step 5: Build a list and engage with them
Your social media campaigns can help you build a strong following of prospective customers who like what you are offering and may want to book a room sometime down the line. In addition to this, you also have a database of customers who have already booked a room in your hotel in the past and may be interested in what’s new.
Periodically engage with this audience and share content that may be of interest to them. This need not necessarily be only about your hotel. If you are in a tourist town, you may periodically share details of upcoming festivals and events in your town. You may also offer unique coupons to your mailing list subscribers so they continue to stay with you. These strategies can help a hotel build steady repeat revenue from their clientele; which is traditionally a difficult thing to do for non-business hotels.
Building an online presence is an important part of hotel marketing. The strategies provided here go a long way in not only establishing your presence, but also growing them in line with your business goals.