Is it possible to ensure every visitor to a hotel’s website converts into a booking? Do innovative tools exist to make this goal a reality?
Technology is transforming consumer expectations – however, technology also holds the key to meeting them. New trends in hospitality are facilitating huge improvements, such as enhancements in infrastructure, management, and marketing strategy. The most obvious manifestation of these advancements is within booking systems. The Internet has made accessing information infinitely easier and far more transparent. As a result, consumers are able to make more informed decisions about rates, dates, and facilities using price comparison sites and mega-OTAs.
As a result, hoteliers have had to make dramatic adjustments to their digital marketing strategies. Despite all the resources that hotel brands are investing, not every visitor to a property’s website will convert. Statistically, only 1 in every 100 visitors will book. Indeed, it would be near impossible to reach a conversion rate of 100% – but there are new, innovative tools to encourage more customers to book direct. Here, we run down five strategies to turn browsers into bookers, followed by a discussion about how hotels can manage increased demand.
Innovative tools for an integrated digital marketing strategy
1. Activation widgets: Create a sense of urgency
Activation widgets are dynamic components on a webpage that show messages to increase interaction. For example, many hoteliers and tour operators will use shopping activation widgets. These small pop-ups display messages like “just booked!” or “only 3 left!” to instill a sense of urgency in the customer. With the implication that the price may rise or the hotel may become fully occupied, the message encourages the visitor to make the booking then and there.
2. Outstrip the competition: Real-time comparisons
OTAs are a blessing and a curse – although they are great for exposure, they can funnel direct bookings away from a hotel. Therefore, a useful tool to draw direct booking is to install a real-time price comparison widget. Although it contravenes most OTA rules to offer a cheaper price direct, hotels can offer perks. So, for instance, the widget on a property’s website could read: “$200 per night with Expedia – or book direct and receive complimentary welcome drinks”.
3. Shopping basket recovery: A gentle reminder
Shopping basket recovery windows are special pop-ups that will appear to stimulate interaction. For example, if a user is idle for an extended period, then the widget will appear to remind them they have a product waiting at check out. Alternatively, these widgets can also be programmed to appear if the user closes the website. Providing the user opts-in to cookies, these notifications can also be used for remarketing.
4. Messenger tools: Your digital concierge
Chatbots and messenger widgets are innovative tools that can engage a customer on a personal level. By introducing a level of human (or human-like) interaction, it is possible to establish a relationship with a potential client before they book. Coupled with offering exclusive deals, messenger tools and chatbots can create a more personalized experience, which is more likely to lead to a conversion.
Most visitors to a hotel website will not book on the first time they land on the page. Through a small piece of code known as a cookie, it is possible for companies to send visitors targeted adverts, on the proviso that they opt-in. These will appear on search engines and social media, reminding the visitor about the hotel. Remarketing strategies are powerful and innovative tools that encourages visitors to return and complete the booking.
Developing infrastructure in line with marketing efforts: Hotel management software
With these tools, hotels can increase their conversion rates through direct channels. However, with these new capabilities, come new challenges. For instance, hotels have to ensure their administrative processes can cope with increased demand. Therefore, we will conclude this article with a sixth innovative tool which supports marketing efforts – hotel management software.
Hotel management software are platforms that allow hoteliers to streamline administration whilst increasing bookings. Hotel management systems are not only important for operations, they also impact customer experience. From booking to the completion of their stay, it is essential that the hotel management system enhances their overall experience. Below, we discuss the purpose and advantages of these innovative tools.
1. Booking management
A key purpose of a property management system is the efficient and effective management of hotel bookings. Now, manually inputting bookings is an excessively time consuming and convoluted task; therefore, it is essential that a hotel management system provides an automated solution. Not only does this capability free up time, but it also mitigates the risk of overbooking.
2. Direct bookings
A hotel management system should actively drive direct bookings. As has already been discussed, travelers of today are far more comfortable with self-service booking engines. Therefore, hotels should seek to drive direct bookings through seamless integrated management and booking systems.
3. Channel management
These systems should help hoteliers to better implement their distribution strategy. Although direct bookings are essential to a hotel’s business model, in today’s globalized market, a positive relationship with OTAs and agents is essential. With the correct software, management can ensure they are able to maintain a diverse distribution strategy.
4. Website management
Hotel management software can help properties to enhance their online presence, enabling consumers to better interact with the hotel brand. Choosing a system with a web editor will allow hotels to create a clean, accessible booking engine that encourage lookers to become bookers.
Integrate management and marketing to drive bookings
The effectiveness of a digital marketing and data strategy should not only be based on search engine traffic. In addition, there should also be innovative tools within the site that encourage conversions. Although each of the tools described here offers something slightly different, each one can be used to generate more conversions – generating a higher return on a property’s marketing investment.
With travellers becoming increasingly tech-savvy, hotels who do not embrace the latest technology to deliver innovative services to their guests stand out to lose big time. However, keeping abreast of the changing technology, and developing cutting-edge solutions based on such technology is a big challenge for hotels, and would, in any case, be a drag on their core focus. Therefore, it is critical that hotels use good management software to handle to administrative pressures of increased demand.