We need to talk … about how your website works with big travel sites like Expedia, Booking.com and LateRooms.
There are two very important myths we need to bust here:
1. Travel websites are not the enemy of small hotels!
When you pay a lot of money in commission to a travel website, maybe hundreds, or more, every month, it’s easy to see why these guys can seem like your enemies. However, before you declare Online Travel Agents your sworn enemies, be sure to know the facts:
- The alternatives to travel websites are difficult, and often far more expensive: How much does it cost to buy 1000 visitors to your website? Probably about £350-£400 (based on analysing a large segment of hotels over the last 12 months). How much money would you make from those visitors? Well, if you’re lucky you would generate about 10 bookings, if you’re unlucky you’ll get nothing. The problem is you pay for the click, not the booking, so this can get expensive, fast! And it can take a lot of time to manage as well. With travel websites you only pay if you get a booking, yes it’s a % of your profit but it’s better than paying for clicks that never turn into guests!
- You can make travel websites work for you: Travel websites send you lots of guests and you pay for them, but once you’ve met the guest you can build a relationship. If you can turn some of those guests into regulars who book directly with you then you’ve made the travel website work for you – the first booking you pay for, but you shouldn’t pay for the second!
2. Your own website cannot match travel websites for the volume of bookings!
It’s tempting when someone phones you up and tells you of a magic new way to generate bookings, something like “by re-doing your website and adding XYZ feature you can take all the bookings you need and you’ll never need to pay all that money to those pesky travel websites again”. Unfortunately, it’s almost certainly untrue for most hotels and B&Bs. Yes, optimizing your site and making minor changes can make a difference but it won’t compete with the big travel sites.
But why? Well, here are the two simple reasons:
- Scale: Sites like Expedia, Laterooms and Booking.com have an incredible scale. They spend billions on advertising, attract millions of visitors every day and have teams of hundreds working to make their websites convert those visitors into guests of the properties on those sites. This scale means that holidaymakers worldwide know about these sites, which have thousands of hotels, and they like to compare to make sure they’re getting the best deal. So if you’re not on these sites, many guests will simply never find you! It doesn’t matter how good your web designer is, how good at SEO your agency claims to be or how clever they can make your website they cannot give you this scale! And this is what matters because the volume of visitors to these sites from all their massive advertising is what allows them to generate your bookings.
- Setup costs: To even try to compete with these big websites you’ll have to spend a lot of money. You’ll need to pay for advertising and PPC ads on Google, and these have no guarantees of paying off. And then there is the time it takes: someone will need to manage your marketing campaigns and manage your website day by day to make sure it’s turning the visitors you pay for into guests who stay at your hotel, this can take a lot of time, or cost a lot of money if you pay someone else to do it!
But your website is still an important part of the booking process, as 35% of people who see you on a travel website will visit your own website before booking. If your website is high quality and has a booking button, it can still generate you commission-free bookings but there is no easier way for most hotels to generate business online than being on major travel websites like Expedia, Booking.com and Laterooms.
Your website isn’t competing with Expedia or Laterooms, it’s competing with the other hotel websites people are looking at, and if you’re not on the big travel websites, most people will never find you and will never visit your website in the first place.
eviivo suite is specifically designed to help B&B, guesthouse and hotel owners who struggle with all the technical stuff. It allows you to build your site without having to spend a fortune on getting help elsewhere and is designed for desktop, mobile and tablet. If you’re not totally confident in making your site technically dynamic, eviivo can help create something shiny and new that both users and Google will love! Please feel free to contact us to find out more.