It’s often said that the internet is the great equalizer, but the reality is that online travel is dominated by players with huge marketing budgets, like OTAs and big hotel brands.
In fact, Expedia and Booking.com are two of the largest eCommerce platforms in the world. So, while the internet doesn’t exactly level the playing field, it does provide smaller players like boutique hotels, inns, guest houses, hostels, B&Bs, and short-term rentals ample opportunities to attract the share of business they need to be successful.
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eCommerce platforms provide opportunities to increase visibility and attract travelers at every touchpoint, helping to grow your business. And the great thing is that these sites operate 24/7, so you can receive reservations while you sleep!
But success in eCommerce is about more than visibility. It’s also about providing a frictionless booking experience. Today, guest expectations are higher than ever. Popular eCommerce platforms like Amazon and Uber have raised the bar, conditioning consumers to expect shopping online to be simple, fast, and secure. Travel sites like Airbnb and VRBO create similar expectations in the hospitality industry by allowing travelers to browse destinations and accommodations, peruse photos, descriptions, and amenities, make a reservation, and process payment, all with just a few clicks.
More than ever, travelers expect these standards of user experience from every website they visit. Properties that don’t provide them risk losing prospective guests to those that do.
11 hotel eCommerce strategies
How can lodging businesses take advantage of the growing online travel market and attract more bookings? Here we’ve broken down 11 strategies and best practices for increasing visibility online and creating a frictionless booking experience.
Optimize for online visibility.
Before you can convert travelers to guests, you must establish a strong presence across eCommerce sites to build trust and credibility with your target audience. Use the following strategies to optimize your online visibility.
1. Improve your search engine optimization.
Employ search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to increase your rankings and visibility in relevant search results on Google, Bing, and other popular search engines. This means having quality descriptions and helpful information about your property, location, amenities, and local activities on your website and ensuring that titles, descriptions, and content are optimized with keywords, meta titles, and meta descriptions.
2. Keep online listings current and consistent.
Many roads online can lead to bookings, including your property’s Google Business Profile, OTA listings, Tripadvisor page, and listings on online directories, local tourism sites, and destination marketing organization (DMO) sites. Keep these listings complete and up to date, and for SEO purposes, ensure that your name, address, and phone number (“NAP”) are consistent across profiles.
Kent Schnepp, a digital marketer with over 20 years of internet marketing experience and Program Director at Cloudbeds, hosted Cloudbeds’ Ask a Digital Marketer Webinar and said that “the biggest piece that I see for organic search rankings is that your name, address, and phone number is exactly the same across every single data aggregator and source that Google utilizes.”