computer keyboard with a red heart on one of the keys reflecting how a great hotel website can encourage more direct bookings

Summer 2022 is here and everyone is eager to enjoy the full experience of the season, which is excellent news for recovering hotels worldwide.

NB: This is an article from Guestcentric

Yet OTAs, following a dormant period, have grown astronomically since restrictions eased and travel resumed with a vengeance in 2022. After two years of disruptions and poor customer experiences with OTAs, most guests will still reach out to hotels directly prior to booking.

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As travel continues to be disrupted due to factors such as staff shortages and airline capacity, now, more than ever, consumers only want to engage with businesses they can trust to deliver the best value for money. So why is the direct channel starting to decline, just when market conditions have improved?

To answer this question, you need to review your primary direct channel – your hotel website. What does it say about your business – and does it inspire and lead guests to book? In this article, we answer these questions and share 3 hotel website tips to help you get more direct bookings this summer.

3 Hotel Website Tips to Get More Direct Bookings in Summer 2022

Your hotel website is the first point of call for guests to understand more about what they can expect from your hotel and the destination. You need to ensure that it can convert online visitors into bookers, meaning more direct business – right now, this summer. The first step is to use the visual power of your website to make guests dream about visiting your hotel:

1. Use your Hotel’s Emotional Strengths to Appeal to Guests

We all know that OTAs offer visitors the convenience of a massive choice of hotels and sophisticated apps. From mobile-only offers to Google Hotel Ads and heavy discounts for loyal guests at the expense of the hotels themselves, OTAs have endless flashy tricks and gimmicks to win bookings.

Many independent hotels frantically and mistakenly try to do the same – and fail, because they simply cannot compete on price and scale. But they can compete with their own website and the emotional impact of their unique branding, photos, and video on the guests’ decision-making process.

A survey by HospitalityNet concludes the decision to book is 60% emotional and 40% rational. Pictures are not only worth a thousand words, but inspire an emotional reaction in guests that will either drive them to book or abandon your hotel website.

The question below is key to evaluating the visual impact of your hotel website on your guests’ emotions.

What does your Hotel Website Design tell Guests about your Business this Summer?

According to research by Fuel, photos and video are the number 1 factors that drive guests to book. Put yourself in the position of the guest booking a stay online. What would really convince you to book? Would you quickly opt for a listing because of the knock-off price? Or, would you book a room after seeing the look and feel of the hotel directly on their website? The two images below can help you answer this question:

Hotel Website Design vs OTA Listing

Hoteliers who visually convey their hotel’s unique look and feel, personality, and brand via the hotel website, are more likely to appeal to the emotions of their guests. And because guest decision-making is strongly driven by emotion, these independent hotels also get more direct bookings.

As we mentioned earlier, guests are craving the full summer experience, and the photos and videos on your hotel website should be tailored to respond to this demand. Do you have a pack of photos specifically to target the summer demand? If not, you should make this a priority in your hotel website strategy.

Video is also a powerful tool to help guests feel the essence of your hotel prior to booking. Do you cater to families who enjoy your shimmering swimming pool and children’s water park? Publish a video on your ‘Family Offers’ page. Are you collaborating with some of your guests’ favorite concerts and festivals this summer? Share a video that gets guests really excited to forget their worries and shake it out! In doing all of these things, know what your guests want and give it to them.

We’ve seen some of the smallest independent hotels and collections really play to their emotional strengths via the hotel website, leaving their 5-Star counterparts dumbfounded. Why do you think it is that small hotels are among some of the richest comp sets? The answer is simple, they know their guests and what emotionally drives them to book, and respond accordingly via their hotel website.

Read rest of the article at Guestcentric