Your website has never been more important as direct bookings make up ground on dominant OTAs – hoorah! Hotels are putting in the work to get guests to book direct, and their efforts are paying off. But, in order to rightfully take back some of the revenue you’ve been handing over to OTAs for eons, you do need to have a website that’s user-friendly and provides a really enjoyable customer experience. To help you kick 2020 off on the right foot, we’ve put together some website design tips that will help you maximise your revenue this year.
Is Your Website Prepped For Success?
Before we get stuck into the nitty gritty, your website needs to tick a couple of very important boxes. These boxes will help you bring in direct sales and avoid paying over-the-odds commission to OTAs.
It needs to:
- Drive traffic away from OTAs and towards direct bookings (you’ve got to be your guest’s first choice)
- Present engaging and unique content that positions your hotel as the best option for your guests
- Promote your rooms and your best selling points (if you’ve got a jacuzzi in every room, you better be promoting that!)
- Integrate with the right booking engine to make booking direct a breeze
- Provide a user-friendly experience that creates happy, at-ease guests
So, how do you do this?
Simplicity is Key
People no longer have the time (or patience!) to wait around on slow load times or muddle their way through a complicated website with confusing navigation. If they get stuck trying to find your room rates, they’re not going to hang around until they find them. Instead, they’ll hotfoot it over to the website of that shiny new B&B over the road that doesn’t hide its prices.
Your job here is to keep your website as simple as possible.
Guests visiting your site will make a judgement the second they land on the site. Try and create a homepage that gives them everything they need before they even realise they need it!
Salthill Hotel for example, has a carousel on their homepage showing off the best of what the hotel has to offer, and they’ve included two CTAs. No confusion for customers!
Add a Personal Touch
What sets you apart from OTAs is that you have direct access to your customers and their content. Guests are going to tag you in their Instagram photos, not a random OTA they may or may not have booked through.
This gives you access to a library of content that you can sprinkle throughout the booking process. For example, you might use customer images in your gallery to show off your pool, or you might add past guest reviews to the checkout page for that final push!
Cabot Links displays entire pages of UGC for potential guests to browse through.
User-generated content like this has the potential to increase your revenue and build trust. On top of that, the majority of travellers check out the reviews before they even think about booking a place to stay!
Always Include a Call-to-Action
How will your guests know what action you want them to take next if you don’t tell them? Like we mentioned before, clear CTAs are one of the most crucial elements of your web pages.
Text or buttons that encourage people to “book now” or “explore further” keep visitors on your site and hand-hold them through the booking process. Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort have CTAs for guests looking to ‘stay’, ‘spa’ and ‘dine’. All clear CTAs and the first thing you see when you land on their site!
Make sure you scatter well thought-out and compelling CTAs throughout the booking process so that guests are in no doubt about where you want them to go next on your site.
Streamline the Booking Process
As soon as a potential guest comes up against a blockage in the booking process – whether it’s a confusing form or a payment method they’re not used to – they’re going to go elsewhere. This is the moment where you can potentially lose a lot of guests, so it’s important that you make the process easy, user-friendly, and enjoyable.
It might mean offering a variety of different payment methods so guests can choose the one they’re most comfortable with. Or it might mean changing the currency to one they’re familiar with. Or it might simply mean giving them an overview of what exactly they’re booking before they hit the “book now” button!
Add Upsells, Discounts, and Packages
When a guest has made it all the way through to the booking stage, there’s a very high chance they’re ready to hand over the cash. This is the perfect time to swoop in with some additional extras for people who are already open to buying.
For example, think about installing a pop-up that appears at the final booking stage to personalise and add extras to the guest’s stay. Things like a bottle of champagne on arrival, a room upgrade, a discount on a meal at the in-house restaurant, or a discount on local attractions!
Marlin Hotel Dublin promise up to 3 ‘perks’ on them once the guest books!
Ready For More Revenue? Your Website is Your Secret Weapon
We’re going to go out on a limb and guess that one of your priorities for 2020 is increasing revenue through direct bookings. Why wouldn’t it be? You can limit commission fees from OTAs and you get to build deeper connections with your guests.
Here’s the thing: in order to capitalise on direct bookings, your website has to be primped and preened until it’s a well-oiled booking machine. This doesn’t have to be difficult though. Follow the tips we’ve laid out here and you should start to see an uptick in the number of direct bookings you get in no time at all!
For more on how to choose the perfect booking engine, read this!