Integrating a powerful Internet Booking Engine (IBE) is undoubtedly the best way to increase direct hotel bookings. Having a hotel booking software empowers you to allow your guests to make instant hotel reservations and receive an instant confirmation from the hotel Property Management System for the same. This enhances your credibility and sets the foundation for a better customer experience.
To get the best out of your hotel booking software there are optimization steps you should ensure. These steps that will help you augment the performance of your online booking software are to provide your guests with an easy, hassle-free, and secure booking experience. This will help increase your website conversion rate. Let’s understand deeper!
The most primary step from an aesthetic point of view is that the design of your web booking engine should match that of the hotel’s brand website. Thus, it is advisable to use a color scheme, fonts, and design elements that are consistent with your brand guidelines and project a unified brand image.
A well-designed online scheduling system, offers an overall smooth online booking experience, not only makes a good impression on the users but also encourages the users to go ahead with hotel reservation.
Further, an optimized website header should always be clearly visible, which has a clear hotel logo and the additional advantages of direct bookings instead of OTAs/third parties.
This way, your guests establish a direct relationship with your hotel, which is important for brand recall and getting future bookings. An optimized header is also useful for guests who land on your online booking software directly via metasearch sites, Google Hotel Ads, etc.
However, you can also offer your guests the option of returning to the hotel website at any time in case they wish to find out more information about your hotel.
Add high-quality pictures
Sharing hotel pictures adds certain credibility and help set expectations before they book a room. It helps you set the conditions for a positive guest experience they can hope to get once they arrive. Therefore, you should also work with pictures in your hotel booking software.
An appealing property image as background as well as photos of available rooms and other hotel amenities provoke your guests to experience it.
Display room types and rate structure clearly
The room rates are one of the most important factors in the booking decision. Guests want to see all advantages at a glance and always want to book with who is offering at the lowest price. Thus ensure that it is clearly displayed with high readability.
Quantity and quality
Ensure all your room types and a number of rooms along with rates should be clearly and attractively termed on your hotel website booking engine. The trick here is that you should provide several rates to cover the needs of different guests, but at the same time, you should not provide too many rates to confuse your guests and it can overwhelm them before eventually exiting your online hotel booking software.
Display rates in ascending order
In addition, many guests choose the booking channel directly via the hotel website in order to take advantage of the guaranteed best price and book at the lowest rate. Therefore, you should always place the cheapest rate and room category at the top of the list and sort by price in ascending order to provide potential guests with an uncomplicated booking experience.
Rate monitoring to offer best pricing
An important key to getting more bookings from your IBE is convincing users that your offer is the most economical. With a smart rate strategy, you can provide the customer with an attractive offer from your booking engine giving them a good reason to book directly on your website.
A rate monitoring tool gives you a clear overview of the rates of your website compared to your room rates of other competitors on different sites/metasearch sites. Monitoring your prices on all meta platforms helps you react quickly to price changes. You can easily apply dynamic pricing in order to always offer the best price on the hotel website and increase your direct bookings via online hotel booking website.
Offer exclusive packages
To attract direct bookings via your internet booking engine allows you to offer special packages/offers to those who book directly with you. You can really differentiate your offerings from others selling your property on OTAs by providing additional services in the form of a complete package/perks.
It is important to understand that the package that you are offering should always appear as a meaningful value add for the guest.
The additional services and contents of the special package should be presented clearly yet precisely in your web booking engine. Eye-catchy design or bullet points are preferred ways of highlighting the same.
Attract diversified audience with variety of offers
Unlike third-party websites, there is a possibility to offer as many different offers to attract different age groups and categories of guests. It could be health & wellness offers comprising yoga sessions, massages, spas, etc. Especial holiday offers for families with kids, tickets for local attractions, arrangement for city tours or special talent shows, etc. in your area, special gourmet lunches, Sunday brunches. This will help you get increased direct bookings.
Keep availability updated
If you decide to give offers on your hotel booking software, you should ensure availability of the current offers both on your website and in your booking system. It is important that you keep them up-to-date at all times so that you do not present outdated offers to your guests. This might not only lead to losses but also damage your reputation.
Further, a theme-based sorting of the offers into categories like – seasonal offers (winter special, summer special, spring, etc.) or festival-based packages is a good way to ensure that the guests see your most recent offers and are tempted to book them.
Keep the contact form short
Nothing irritates a guest more than a lengthy contact form. Thus, make sure that you only ask for important information as mandatory fields in the data/contact form. The trick is to ask as much as necessary but as little as possible. Further, list down the steps of the booking process clearly visible on the screen so that the guest knows at any point of time where exactly they are in the booking process and how many steps are still ahead.
Display your cancellation policy clearly. When booking through your booking engine, guests should be able to see the cancellation terms & conditions clearly and it should be understandable so that the traveler is completely aware of the conditions. Especially, in uncertain situations like we are witnessing currently, there are a lot of cancellations happening. Mentioning the cancellation policy clearly will save you from the high number of calls to the reception desk, which blocks your staff in responding to such requests. In fact, in the current situation, it is advisable to keep your cancellation policy relaxed to encourage the guest to book with you without any fear of cancellation charges, etc.
Multiple payment options
Offer the convenience of multiple payment options to your guests. Keep in mind the convenience of both domestic and international guests by enabling your guests to choose from several payment options as per their preference.
Ensure a fast and uncomplicated direct booking experience.
To lead potential guests to book directly with you, you should first and foremost use a fast and intuitive booking engine. The guest should always know how many booking steps lie ahead. If the booking process takes too long, many potential customers will stop it and move on to your competitors. The key is to offer an experience similar to OTAs so that the guests feel equally comfortable booking on your booking engine.
Ensure mobile optimization
Last but not least, just as is the case with your website, mobile optimization of your booking engine is also very important. Many business and private travelers book a hotel room while on the way on mobile devices. Therefore, you should also optimize your IBE for mobile use.
The above shared steps will definitely help increase your brand awareness and recall, and help you increase the number of commission-free direct bookings. Besides, always welcome guests’ feedback to keep improving your booking process.