One of hotels’ most prominent digital marketing challenges is identifying and implementing the best strategies for attracting more customers to their websites. The main goal here is to have more direct bookings conversions and consequently increased revenue and customer loyalty.
Before executing campaigns, hoteliers should develop a well-researched digital marketing strategy. Set SMART goals, specify your target audience, and identify resources at your disposal. While working on your plan, you should take the following into your consideration:
Marketing on digital platforms tends to be more affordable than tangible marketing materials.
Digital marketing can bring a substantial return on small investments.
Using digital channels has a significant reach and can help build up a hotel’s brand.
Direct bookings are bookings made at your property without any third-party involvement. There are no commissions, and you have an opportunity to build relationships directly throughout guests’ journey – from the consideration phase and booking through the guests’ stay at your hotel and beyond that.
The key factors that influence direct bookings are:
Managing guest expectations and personalising the offer.
Rewarding following through the process of booking directly with your hotel.
Offering a streamlined, quick, and user-friendly experience across all hotel communication.
How digital marketing impacts hotels
Nowadays, most travellers look for hotels and other amenities online, using search engines and social media in their research. If you implement a digital marketing strategy, you should be able to reach these potential customers and nurture their interest until conversion and beyond, establishing a loyal customer base for your business.
Successful digital marketing campaign goals can be set to increase direct bookings, improve brand awareness, and develop a competitive edge in the market.
The role of digital marketing in a traveller’s purchasing decision
In 2018, 82% of the 148 million online travel bookings were made through a smartphone app or website without human involvement. A 2022 study by HOTREC found that the pandemic altered hotel booking habits, and the share of direct bookings have increased, with guests preferring to make reservations through email or on hotels’ websites directly.
In line with those trends, the following list of digital marketing strategies is a great starting point when considering actions your hotel can take to increase revenue through online direct bookings.
10 Best digital marketing strategies for increasing direct bookings
1. Optimise your website for mobile devices
People spend more time on mobile devices than on desktop computers. The search engine giant Google expects this tendency to continue. If your website does not provide an optimised user experience for mobile phone users, you may risk losing customers to competing sites that provide this feature. If you want more hotel direct bookings, you must have a mobile-friendly website – it needs to load fast on mobile devices, have a straightforward design optimised for smaller screens, and signpost user journey with easy-to-find calls to action. You can test if your website is mobile-friendly using Google’s free tool.
2. Give importance to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
If you want your hotel’s website to be at the top of Google’s search results, you need SEO. The higher your rank in search engines, such as Google, the more likely your website will generate more leads and increase the number of direct bookings. Beyond doing an SEO audit of your hotel’s website, consider publishing interesting content around the keywords your customers may be searching for, such as local attractions, best restaurants in the area, or highlighting unique services in your hotel’s offer.
3. Use the billboard effect of OTA listings
Hoteliers often see increased direct bookings on their website after adding their hotel to online travel agencies (OTA) listings. Over 50% of travellers who use OTAs as a discovery tool for accommodation subsequently visit the properties’ websites. To make the most of this phenomenon, you need to ensure your website is attractive, informative and encourages direct booking with a user-friendly design.
4. Highlight the best features of your hotel
Hospitality is a very competitive market. To improve the guest experience, you must stand out from the crowd and showcase your best attributes to attract guests. Showcasing your hotel’s top characteristics can help you generate more direct hotel bookings. Consider PR campaigns and social media strategies to find the best platforms to display and promote what makes your hotel unique.
5. Make the most of your website
In the last decade, the hotel sector has transformed dramatically. People are planning their vacations online, often doing their diligent research. They tend to have a preference for making their hotel bookings online. Many online users approach hotel websites for more information or a better price. A user-friendly and appealing website will improve your hotel’s guest experience and generate more leads. Implementing a hotel chatbot on your website can drive better visitor engagement and lead to more direct bookings, especially if it is powered by AI technology specialised in the hospitality industry.
6. Encourage customer retention and direct bookings by offering rewards
Always reward guests for direct hotel bookings on your website rather than through a third-party site or an online travel agent. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool, and your guests may be keen to share a secret discount with their friends and family, especially if their experience was great.
7. Make your “book now” button noticeable and easy to find
If you want an increase in direct bookings, ensure your website’s call-to-action buttons are clear and appealing, so visitors know exactly what they will get when they click on them. This will vastly improve the website visitor experience. Also, consider using pricing widgets to compare your rates to Online Travel Agencies and emphasise the special offers you make to customers who book hotels directly with you.
8. Make use of a remarketing campaign for incomplete bookings
The most excellent strategy to turn visitors into leads and sales is remarketing. It is a great tool that allows you to display advertisements to potential guests who have visited your website but have not yet made a booking. This is a simple way for people to remember what they saw on your website and return at a later date to make a booking. Introducing a discount as part of the remarketing campaign may be that final encouragement those customers need to complete their direct booking.
9. Create and enhance your hotel listing on Google My Business
Today, a Google My Business listing is a must-have for hotels. Add high-quality images and complete your amenities list to attract more interest and visits to your website. Customer reviews are excellent leverage in positioning your hotel on the market, and you may consider incentivising leaving them at the end of guests’ stay at your hotel.
10. Make the most of the potential of social media platforms
You will likely get more direct bookings if your potential customers find you on various social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. A traveller may be more inclined to follow you if you post engaging and informative content on your hotel’s profiles. Be prepared to answer incoming messages from potential customers across all platforms. You may consider using a Guest Communications Hub to streamline and process all communication, generate leads and increase the number of direct bookings.
Hoteliers wanting to gain a competitive edge over the competition need to embrace technological advancements. A better engagement with visitors to your hotel’s website and social media platforms can increase your revenue through more direct bookings. Try to make progress implementing each of the strategies mentioned in this article, and you will see the results.
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