Most, if not all, small hotels understand the value of having an online presence, with many dedicating resources and time into building a dedicated hotel and tourism website to promote their property. However, having a website is simply not enough nowadays. If a potential guest visits your site and cannot easily find the information they’re looking for, there is an immediate action to go and book elsewhere. To avoid the loss of a potential guest there are 6 golden rules every small hotel, Bed and Breakfast, guesthouse or destination provider must follow to ensure maximum occupancy all year round.
Hotel Booking Systems
Firstly, are your guests able to book on your hotel website? This may seem simple enough, but many hoteliers and guest house owners are missing out on bookings when there is no option given to book a room in real-time. A booking engine tool makes it possible to check the availability and rate of your rooms for a specific date. It’s usually included in all-in-one booking software solutions. Giving travel customers the ability to book instantaneously is an essential and expected part of any hotel or guesthouse website.
How To Get More Online Bookings
There are many small hotel websites that turn direct website bookings away because the price they advertise on their own website is more expensive than advertised elsewhere. Some of the reasons for this could be that the booking engine used on the hotel website doesn’t integrate with a system that manages all the online channels and/or the hotel’s website only features a ‘booking enquiry form’.
With limited resources and only a select number of hours in a day, it is near impossible to manually keep across all of your rates and availability if you are advertising across multiple booking channels. This is where smart hoteliers will integrate their website to an all-in-one system that will manage their channels. A channel manager is part of a system which allows you to centralize and automate the management of your different online distribution or booking channels (Expedia, Booking.com, LateRooms, etc).
Mobile Friendly Tourism Sites
Did you know that at least 52% of all travel consumers are using mobile devices exclusively to conduct all online travel research? Generate more room bookings and convert potential customers into paying and booking customers by:
Creating a site that auto-adjusts based on the size of a smartphone or tablet (mobile optimised). Cleverly placing information such as ‘click-to-book’ (CTA’s) buttons in locations that can be easily found and clicked. Adding links to maps or directions. And ensuring the complete online experience is mobile responsive from research through to booking.
Make Sure Your Hotel Website Is Secure
Savvy consumers are becoming more vigilant about Internet security, especially when it comes to their credit card usage. If your hotel’s website does not partner with a PCI (Payment Cards Industry) compliant booking engine, guests could feel uncomfortable sharing their credit card details and in turn, a large proportion will not follow through with the booking process. Travellers expect you to have the right technology on your site because it lends credibility to your website and to your hotel. Integrating with an all-in-one software system that offers a booking engine that complies with these security standards will overcome such objectives.
What Is Quality Score And Usability?
Nowadays, your website is a shopfront. User experience is everything. A well-designed website can portray the standards and even the values of your hotel or guesthouse. This doesn’t necessarily begin or end with the way that you’ve designed your website. It also extends to site content, such as photos, video and other rich media. It is a smart idea to invest in a quality photographer to take photos of your hotel, rooms and facilities.
People like to know what they are getting and, especially for small hotels, who they are getting it from. A few specific points you could use to make your site even better from a user experience perspective:
Make The Navigation Simple
If the user wants to navigate to other key pages on your hotel website, make it easy and make navigation choices obvious. And add the best information above the fold. Place all the best elements of your hotel website, including a booking engine button to book, at the top of the page so that a guest is motivated to make a reservation from the word go.
Make The Booking Process As Simple And Quick As Possible
Many hotel websites don’t tell guests how to book. This is a fundamental principle of effective e-Commerce and must be taken into consideration. There are several ways you can show potential customers how to create a reservation. For one, you can create a page on your site that explains the booking process. No matter how simple the page may be, for some less savvy users, this will give them the confidence to go through the booking process with ease. Another great way is to make sure your website booking engine is a one-click booking process. This allows the guest to scroll down the booking page to see exactly what is required.
Test And Measure And Test Again
Why not check how effective your booking engine is by asking a few friends and professional contacts to make a booking on your hotel website. If they can easily book without asking you questions, then you know that your direct booking engine is easy to use and the likelihood of you getting booked online is now substantially higher.
Keep an eye on your website traffic on the back-end by using Google Analytics to see where your potential guests get stuck or ‘bounce’ from your site. Adjusting those pages with better content, easier navigation and clear ‘click-to-book’ (Call to actions) buttons will decrease the bounce rate. Make your hotel website sticky by ticking off the above tips and enhance your chance of getting direct, commission-free reservations. Consequently, you will be maximising the considerable investment in your tourism website and booking software; the most important tools in getting booked online today.