Now that over 50% of bookings are made online, it is increasingly important to not only make sure that guests can book directly through your website. Guests can be flaky, so it’s important to make sure your hotel or B&B website is as easy as possible to navigate and make bookings through.
We have put together some guidance, based on our experience, to ensure you give your potential guests all the information they need to book right away and increase the chances of them booking directly with you, or take a look at our infographic on how to get more direct bookings.
1. Allow guests to book directly and pay on your site
Did you know that 73% of potential B&B guests won’t book with a particular B&B unless they are able to do so right there and then on its website? Don’t, therefore, just settle for a telephone number or contact form – it’ll cost you a huge chunk of business.
2. Make sure the booking button is obvious
It is important that your booking button is clearly displayed on every page of your website. If it is not clearly shown on your site, guests will seek out other websites like Booking.com to book through. This may mean you end up paying a commission or you don’t get the booking at all because those sites will show other properties in competition alongside yours.
It can be tempting to hide the booking button in favour of trying to get the customer to call you directly as it’s easier for you, however, most guests are put off if they have to call or email to book.
3. Don’t link to online travel websites
If your website can take bookings, and those bookings are commission free for you, there is no need to link your customer to a different site where you have to pay a commission. Online travel agencies (OTAs) charge commission for any bookings made via their website, therefore, linking to their website would cost you a commission fee and means you miss out on a direct booking through your own website. If you are opted-in to OTAs, you will be on their website regardless and there’s no need to help them promote your property – they’ll be doing this already. This simple change to your website will save you money in commission and generate more bookings by making it easier for your customer to book!
4. Remove any tariff pages
If your website is able to take online bookings (and it needs to be) then tariff pages are no longer necessary. You don’t want to confuse potential guests by having prices on your website that do not match the book now price. With promotion manager tools you can alter rates and offer promotions at the click of a button. For example, if there is an event in your local area, it’s a good idea to increase rates because there will be more demand for accommodation and people will be more likely to book with you.
On the other hand, if you have empty rooms, you can slash the prices on the day in order to encourage last minute bookings. When your rates have the potential to change this suddenly, it’s a good idea not to have a designated page of room prices because visitors might be miffed if they see that they’re being charged more than usual. Instead, with a booking engine, guests can input their dates first of all, in order to see rates and availability, which can, in turn, encourage them to book instantly!
5. Make your website simple and easy to navigate
If you create a clearly laid out website, with lots of engaging content, including plenty of good quality images, your guests have no reason to look elsewhere. Your content should be easy to read, easy to navigate through, and have good spelling and grammar. A comprehensive accommodation booking website should include the following tabs:
- Contact us – Essential information for guests to get in contact, should include an address, an email and at least one telephone number.
- Rooms – Guests like to see images and descriptions of each room to help them choose which one they’d like to book.
- Gallery – Pictures are paramount when it comes to marketing your rooms but also your hotel, local area and food.
- Restaurant – If you have a restaurant or serve breakfast in the morning, have a menu on your website with any allergen information.
- Facilities – Describe your facilities and the extras that make your accommodation special
- Special offers – promotions entice guests to book, so try and have a dedicated page with offers and discounts displayed clearly
6. Give discounted rates for visitors booking directly
If you take into account the price of commission that OTAs charge, it’s probably more cost effective for guests to pay less, but pay the sum directly to you. This way, you undercut the travel sites and you’re probably better off without commission costs being taken out of your profit. To encourage guests to do this, offer a discount or a free extra, like a bottle of bubbly in the room or a voucher for a local attraction. This is also a good strategy with repeat visitors, although if they loved your B&B the first time around they’ll probably be more inclined to book with you directly anyway.
7. Optimise your site for Mobile & minimise loading times
This is a simple one but an important one – 65% of same day reservations are made on mobile phones, so your site needs to display as well on a smartphone as it does on a desktop PC. To optimise your site. Don’t underestimate the importance of this tip – there are too many other great B&B sites out there for you to be able to leave your own budding guests waiting.
8. Showcase praise from guests
Have you been getting brilliant reviews on TripAdvisor? Were you recently praised in a newspaper or travel magazine? Maybe you’ve just been given a certain award or accreditation? Whatever it is, make sure it’s front-and-centre on your B&B website.
9. Invest in great quality photography & video tour
Is your B&B situated in gorgeous grounds? Perhaps you’ve recently refurbished your main bedroom or would just like to show off the intricate stonework above the door? Lots of mouth-watering visual material will really get those potential customers booking.
An extension of the above, a virtual tour will enable your site visitors to immerse themselves even more in your B&B environment in the comfort of their own home.
10. Get on Google maps
Google Maps has recently become one of the most popular search engines for hotels and B&Bs. It makes sense that prospective customers want to find out where exactly their accommodation is located and what’s in the vicinity before they book. So, make sure you’re included so your business isn’t overlooked.
Following these steps will maximise your chances of landing direct bookings. With eviivo suite, you are provided with a personalised B&B website completely free of charge, or a booking button to enable your site to take instant bookings commission free!