Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Life starts all over again – and so do your bookings! With summer officially over and September upon us, it’s time to wipe the slate clean, freshen things up and prepare your website properly for bookings made in the latter part of 2021 – bookings being made for autumn, winter and 2022.
With a covid booster programme being considered in the UK, and even further restrictions being lifted in Ireland over the coming weeks, Covid is far from over but our societies are progressing towards a more manageable state of dealing, and living with, the situation.
As always, a healthy, well structured (and well optimised) website is crucial to the success of your hotel’s direct bookings heading into autumn, winter and early next year.
Connecting the dots between everything – your website, your metasearch, your socials, your email marketing – will mean that less customers will fall through the gap (don’t underestimate the importance of metasearch – Google Hotel Ads are currently delivering anywhere from 10-30% of the overall Google Ads revenue for hotels using the platform).
How do you make sure your website is a healthy one?
Your content plays a big role. When we say content, we’re referring both to the ‘functional’ pages detailing what your hotel offers, as well as additional ‘useful’ or ‘entertaining’ pages of content that might be found on a blog or a more specific landing page. The landing pages you need at the forefront of your website currently should be around midterm breaks/Halloween, Cyber Weekend, Christmas/New Year, and gift vouchers.
The Content Marketing Institute tells us useful content should be at the core of your marketing. There are 27,000,000 pieces of content shared on the web everyday… so the importance of trying to write relevantly for your audience can’t be underestimated. Your guests need to informed – don’t make them go elsewhere for what they could easily learn on your website. They also need to be reassured, which is where the likes of health & safety measures come in. Always make these clear and accessible.
Watch our masterclass in content marketing back here.
Knowing who your audience is crucial
Everything you know about your audience will help make your content relevant to them. If you’re a Revenue or Sales/Marketing Manager, content collation probably isn’t your top priority in the day-to-day. This means you might not put as much time into it – naturally. You need to write for your guest, not for yourself. Who knows your guests better than you? Put yourself in their shoes – this helps when it comes to the practical stuff like offers, add-ons and even room rates, too.
If you are refreshing landing pages for autumn, and putting together new ones for Christmas, think about it logically: who are you speaking to? Have you the right guest personas in place? It will help to know what devices they browse on, and where they’re booking from. Use Google Analytics and your social platforms to get a gauge of who’s who and what they like. Talking to guests helps too. Personalisation can help to increase your revenue, because people like to be listened to – they like to be provided with what they want and need, personally. All of this will help to create a loyal customer, one who comes back again.
According to Hubspot, “consumers don’t just like personalized marketing experiences. They expect them.”
What are some practical actions to take now?
Make sure your website is totally mobile-optimised. Mobile revenue has been soaring – and it will only continue to do so. Providing a smooth and pleasant mobile experience is so important – it is a game changer for certain bookers. Don’t think of it as a nice to have – it’s a must-have, a crucial element to consider and take seriously. Have a good review of your website’s mobile experience & functionality. How does it fare? Is everything appearing as it should? Is everything where it needs to be? Does the entire booking process work okay?
Whoever your website provider is, if you can, make sure you start planning on using Christmas features. Remember how important visual elements are to a website! How it looks (including little touches) contributes to how people perceive you and your brand. Don’t underestimate their importance!
We mentioned it earlier, but do you have all of your key landing pages up, properly visible and accessible, and do they feature the correct rate plans for the right guest personas? Like pieces of a jigsaw, it’s only one part of the job to have all of the pieces on the floor – in order to connect them all in the right place, you need to fit the correct pieces together. Everything needs to be where it should be. Try to have content and dedicated pages for midterm breaks (include your Halloween offers), Cyber Weekend, Christmas/New Year and for gift vouchers too. ‘Tis the season! (Well… almost).
As part of all this content, make sure you update all your summer images with autumn and winter-style images. Check, check and double check! You don’t want a big glaring beach under the sun shot forgotten somewhere.
When it comes to Covid, we’d all rather be rid of the word for good, but that’s not the world we’re living in. We’re living in a world full of people who need to be reassured at every point that they’re in safe hands when they decide to go away. With this in mind, continue to review your health and safety information. Keep it all fresh and updated if anything needs to be added, and keep it visibly accessible so people can find it when they’re browsing your homepage – we recommend including a link in your footer, so your action bar and key sections of your homepage can be used for new content and offers.
Speaking of your action bar, if your website has one (which it should!) keep updating it with new, seasonal offers. For now, perhaps it’s still pushing your autumn offers. In a few weeks time, it will be a good idea to start using it for Christmas offers. If it has a timer feature, this is an excellent way of creating urgency on the countdown to Cyber Weekend.
Listen to your guests
Take a look around at your latest customer reviews. Are there any comments submitted through your website forms that you could consider, anything you could action or implement from suggestions given? If there was a standard question or something that had been queried more than once, this could even be added to your FAQs. Customer feedback is crucially important to the ongoing success of your hotel bookings.
While on the topic of customer reviews, don’t forget to also review your Google my Business & TripAdvisor profiles. Amend your opening status if needs be, and respond to any new reviews that have come in. Being seen to respond to your customer reviews is important for both the reviewer, and new guests to see. It shows you are conscientious and that you care about guests and their experience.
Enhance their experience
When it comes to all of your current and upcoming seasonal offers, remember this – enhancements help to improve your average booking value. Are all of your enhancements valid for 2022? Make sure they are! Check out all of the images and pricing, too. Just make sure that everything is where it should be – that the right enhancements are connected to the right rateplans. The safest way to make sure all is good in this area is by going through the booking process yourself. It might take time, but it’s worth it to be safe. Be creative with them! Think about the seasonality of your offers – how can you have fun with your enhancements? Be playful. They don’t need to be big, every flourish is a flourish.
If there is anything we can help you with in relation to your website, reach out to us on firstname.lastname@example.org – we create bespoke hotel websites and also provide our clients with access to our website builder, which is updated with fresh new themes regularly. All mobile-optimised of course!