With OTAs reducing the numbers of direct bookings year on year, it’s important that hotels take stock of their marketing plans. There are lots of ways to attract direct bookings and bring back repeat guests. But you must be prepared to make a few changes to your current marketing strategies. Read on for our top tips on boosting direct bookings.
Be visible online
This requires more extensive work than just making sure your website is search engine optimized and your Google ads are running. Online these days means getting yourself on as many social media platforms as possible and creating shareable content that resonates with your audiences. Don’t just limit yourselves to Facebook. Be on LinkedIn for business travellers and B2B opportunities. Get on Instagram for the fun stuff. Instagram offers IG Stories, IG TV and newsfeed posts. It’s not as easy as it was to gain followers on there, but if you are dedicated and post regularly, as well as interacting with other users, you will see your fan base grow.
Be on Facebook too as the demographics it attracts are the over 35’s and under 65’s – the generation that likes to travel and usually has the means to do so.
Don’t forget that all these platforms have advertising potential too. You can run ads through Facebook and Instagram as the two platforms are linked. So it’s a great way of promoting any offers you are running.
Facebook also offers retargeted ads, which as all marketeers know, have huge ROI value in terms of conversion rates. They constantly remind people who have visited your website, that you’re still around, by displaying your latest adverts in their social media newsfeeds.
Make sure that your off-site SEO is very strong too. Have a blog on your site that talks about the latest hotel news, local events – and even hosts an events calendar. All these aspects make your website stronger and more visible in the search engines. Did you know that 75% of searches result in users clicking the top search engine listing and not the advert above it? It’s worth putting more revenue into your SEO when you look at it like that.
Retargeting is essential
According to the latest research, it takes at least five exposures of a brand for a viewer to consider it a trustworthy and real source. That means each person you market to, must see content and information about your brand more than five times before they even consider you as an option. Not only that, but so very often, people get distracted and click away from your website in the middle or at the beginning of the booking process. They may or may not return. But you can try and remind them of your presence by using retargeting methods.
For guest who have already stayed with you, keep a detailed CRM database and make sure you maximize its use. Reminding customers of upcoming offers and discounts is a great way of showing them you are still around and offering great services.
Find your niche and capitalize it
If the majority of your guests are business travellers, specialise in services that will keep them returning again and again. Offering premium facilities such a business centre meeting rooms and incentives, will keep them returning again and again. Make use of LinkedIn and forge relationships with other local businesses. Annual conferences, seasonal events and delegations can all be regular booking income.
If you offer additional incentives, such as discounts on a set number of bookings, you will encourage that relationship further and secure future bookings and even recommendations from them to other local businesses. Loyalty programmes, both for B2B clients and consumer guests, are another great way to encourage repeat bookings.
Similarly, if your niche is ‘vegan boutique chic,’ then capitalise on that. Direct your marketing to local vegan groups and boutique hotel websites. Invite social media influencers to stay and experience your services. With any luck, they will leave you with a good review and a priceless recommendation of your property to their legions of fans.
Location, location, location
Don’t just think about marketing your property. Consider marketing all the interesting aspects in your local area. That’s why we mentioned having an events calendar on your website. For example, it someone is interested in visiting a monkey sanctuary near your hotel property, and you’ve got a great article on your website about the monkey sanctuary, they might well end up discovering your property as well as the information they are looking for.
Apply this philosophy to all the big tourism draws and well as the business-savvy aspects of your local area. Contact local businesses and ask if they will include a link of your article on their own website. This is called backlinking and it’s an essential part of building up your local SEO strategy.