“How can I increase online bookings?” It’s a common question within the accommodation industry…
The truth is that there are numerous methods for increasing online bookings. But, with so many options, how – and why – should you prioritise digital marketing when trying to get more website traffic?
Nowadays, most of us spend our days staring at a screen, whether we’re working on our office desktop or unwinding on the couch while playing League of Legends. This demonstrates how digital marketing affects brand exposure because it enables companies to reach a larger audience than they could with more conventional tactics.
Why is digital marketing important?
Digital marketing encompasses all methods of online brand promotion. The main digital marketing platforms for your business are its website, social media pages, and newsletters, where people looking for your services can stay up to date on your content.
Gone are the days when you would have to walk around the neighbourhood slipping leaflets through people’s doors to offer your services. Print marketing is still essential for brands to reach their audience, but with digital marketing, customers from all over the world can access your services, opening up entirely new business opportunities.
You must evaluate how the crucial elements of your digital marketing are currently performing and find areas for improvement that will benefit your company in the long run if you want to increase direct traffic to your website and, consequently, online bookings.
1. How Efficient Is Your Website?
On new projects, we usually find that the best place to focus our efforts is on the website user experience, or “conversion optimisation.” This is the process of analysing a user’s journey through a website and identifying areas where they are leaving, possibly due to frustration or confusion.
However, small adjustments frequently have a big impact. For instance, we found that many users were leaving the website after completing the booking form while working on the The Apartment Service project. We concluded that they might have thought the form was too complicated, which would have affected how they felt about the rest of our client’s services. We saw a significant increase in online bookings after streamlining the form to only ask the most crucial questions as customers found the booking process to be easy, giving them a better impression of the brand as a whole.
2. Learn from the bigger players
Given that users can quickly compare and contrast accommodation options on these platforms, statistics show that online travel agencies (OTAs) like Airbnb and TripAdvisor are taking a considerable share of online bookings. Many customers are likely to forgo websites in favour of OTAs due to the simple process of finding the best deals through an OTA website rather than having to browse each company’s website directly. In turn, this gives OTAs a benefit that enables them to charge high commissions from accommodation and travel providers, giving them the competitive edge in the market.
As an accommodation provider, it’s easy to get discouraged because it’s still true that OTAs are effectively taking reservations that would otherwise go directly to your website. However, when used properly, OTAs can bring in new clients that you wouldn’t otherwise have, boosting online reservations.
We advise incorporating OTAs into your overall online strategy rather than competing with them. Use a channel management software, such as Site Minder or Gateway, to make it easier to manage data across OTAs, and take advantage of the OTA’s initial point of contact to win over a new customers. Learn what draws customers to OTA sites and use this data to guide your own marketing strategy. Once you have this information, it will be simpler to persuade new customers to book directly while still using OTAs as a good foundation.
3. Use Pay-Per-Click Campaigns to Your Advantage
Direct competition with the OTAs is difficult given their massive marketing budgets. However, because most accommodation operators only have a few key locations, we can usually focus our efforts far more effectively than the OTAs.
One of the most effective ways to boost website traffic and increase bookings is by using Google Ads, although the system can be complex to navigate. Depending on location, age, sex, and online behaviour, you can tailor your audience as narrowly or broadly as you like when creating campaigns on this channel.
Consider this scenario: you’ve looked into flights to Mexico for two over the Christmas break. Later in the day, you visit Facebook and scroll down to see advertisements for Mexico weekend getaways as well as Christmas presents for your significant other.
The pages you see on Facebook are probably landing pages made by a company for their Google Ads campaign, which is configured to feed through to auxiliary websites. As Google will charge the business every time someone clicks on the page, even if the user immediately leaves the page, creating a landing page for each distinct campaign can help a brand increase website traffic and save money. Make sure that your content is relevant enough to their needs for them to want to interact with it in order to avoid paying more than you have to.
Based on the budget you set aside for the campaign as well as the SEO ranking of your website, Google Ads will determine where your campaign appears in its search results. You can also change the campaign so that it is distributed among different websites, exposing your advertisement to internet users everywhere.