The Battle for Direct Bookings has exploded this year. Online travel agencies are developing loyalty programs in an attempt to “own the customer” even more concretely, and, in turn, hotels are starting to invest in improvements to their hotels’ branded websites to improve their direct relationship in the digital format.
Here are three guiding principles hotels should consider:
1) Treat different kinds of traffic in different ways
All e-commerce professionals know that the most effective way to convert someone is to address them by name with a personalized offer.
But even if you don’t know a person’s name, their preferences, or their stay history, there’s at least one thing you do know about almost every web visitor: the source of your web visit.
- Did this person type your URL into their browser directly?
- Did they Google your hotel and arrive from a search engine?
- Did they engage with a PPC ad?
- Did they see your property on a review site and follow a link from there?
- Did they link from a piece of press about your restaurant?
Data proves that showing each of these kinds of visitors a different welcome message — emphasizing a unique service experience for visitors from a review site, and a Best Rate Guarantee from people arriving from a search engine, for example — will improve the number of people who drop into your booking funnel as opposed to going elsewhere.
2) Tell a cohesive story
Over the last decade, the idea of a hotel has transitioned from “bed and continental breakfast” to a complete lifestyle experience. People sleep at their hotel, sure, but also they eat, socialize, work, date, shop, and more.
Top-of-funnel marketing has evolved accordingly: hotel ads and branded content aren’t about getting good rest any more, they’re about being part of a certain lifestyle.