Why Book Direct examines how a small villa resort attracts more travelers to book directly on their own website. It is a case study of their experience and the steps they took, staring with the launch of their BookDirect blog and web page on the benefits of booking direct. It outlines many extras and special packages available for guests who book on the hotel’s own BookDirect booking engine. Winning “Why Book Direct Strategies” that boost direct bookings are covered.
The problem all small hotels face is that travelers are conditioned to think that OTAs, like Booking.com and Expedia, have the best rates. Travelers believe that they will get the best deal at an OTA and not at the hotel. Hotels are to blame for that. They have created this ‘demon in the box’ by giving specials on top of more discounts to distribution partners in order to get higher ranking.
OTAs also create lead magnets and sometimes sell rooms at a certain cost just to get people to book with them and become a loyal OTA client.
Example of How One Hotel Handles The Stereotype
Small hotels and resorts of all types – apartments, villas and bed and breakfasts as well as conventional hotels – can boost direct bookings. The strategy used by Poinsettia is a good example of what can be done to fight the stereotype that hotels don’t give travelers the best deals. It includes creating a BookDirect benefits page and linking to it on many pages of the website. On the page for The Nook – One Bedroom Villa, for example, you will find the following under the “Book” button: Check the Benefits when you BookDirect which include much more that Best Rates and Best Value Guaranteed! – This sort of notice is placed on appropriate pages of the website. Under the booking widget (the ‘Book Now’ date selector) guests are reminded that “We know St. Lucia Best”, and “We stand by to help you plan the perfect holiday”. Best rate guarantee buttons are scattered discreetly throughout the website.
Time to Fight Back Against OTA Best Price Image
It is time for small hotels to fight the impression that they do not offer the best rates. It gets a little complicated when Rate Party contracts prohibit hotels from publicly displaying a better rate tn theirs. That clause is being removed in Europe and may also be removed in America in the future. In the meantime, there is a away around it. Poinsettia has implemented two BookDirect strategies:
- Firstly, the best deal does not have to be a better rate or a great discount. A hotelier can offer benefits in many other ways. Poinsettia is negotiating with nearby restaurants and activities to offer their guests something extra. In one case the hotel may pay for a bottle of wine at a restaurant. Poinsettia offers a free cell phone which saves on the hassle of changing SIMs in a foreign country. They give guests free fruit, a free welcome basket, free WiFi and all sorts of ‘extras’ that may not be available when booking with an OTA. Guests need to check with the OTA to be sure they are getting the ‘extra’ – this is a power statement that OTAs do not always give the best value.
- Secondly, the best rate in the case of Poinsettia is not public. Guests have to enter their email address. That signs them up to a VIP membership where they will see the best rate and be able to book villas at special discounts. This has the advantage of also having the email address to contact and keep in touch with the guest during the holiday planning process.
Drive Direct Booking Traffic to Your Site
We all know how hard it is to rank on Search engines, so that your own small hotel will show up in the first page of searches for generic keywords like ‘family hotel’ in your destination. Organic search is slowly disappearing for all but the largest suppliers. Of course, it works great if you have brand recognition and people are looking for you by name. But few small hotels are that well known. It is important that they get seen in Search and on social sites in order to become known and get booked. This is why a good “Why Book Direct Marketing Strategy” is needed.
In a recent post on Smart Data Marketing we included a tip by Ian R. Clayton, author of the book series “Marketing Hotels and Tourism Online“. In it Ian proposes a 3-Point Strategy. It is very simple and is actually just two major activities:
– One: You advertise
– Two: You re-target those travelers who visited your site from an Ad.
Re-targeting simple means that you show up with an ad on the pages travelers visit after seeing your website. This is vital as travel shoppers shop around a lot. They visit many hotels, OTA sites, TripAdvisor and all sorts of destination sites and directories.
Hardly anyone books the first time they visit your site – You need to be seen again and again!
Re-targeting Travelers with Why Book Direct Strategies
What you need to do is run your conventional ads on Google’s AdWords and on your preferred social media site. We like Facebook because it allows you to target who you want. You can also create custom audiences and ‘look-alike customers’ based on your best guests. Run the re-targeting campaign at the same time.
There are several services. We have used AdRoll and found them very helpful. They will create the ads for you (like the one here). You will need several ads of different dimensions for the various platforms and ad spots.
It’s all tied together by putting a bit of text into the page that the ads will link to. You should also have a different page to send the re-targeted clients to. If you have a Why BookDirect Benefits page that might be a good option. Take some time to try to understand what is most important to the client as well as why they may still be looking and then try to create a page that answers those questions.
With that done, visitors to your website, including those that came from your AdWords and Facebook ads, will see you on the AdRoll network of sites. The AdRoll network will include Facebook and other relevant sites that travel shoppers visit.
Get More Conversion with Animated Review Videos
Just about every travel shopper looks for reviews before booking a holiday. Most will base their decision on what the review says. HolidayHotelReviews.biz has a unique and highly effective solution to present authentic reviews from your recent guests in a animated video. A professional spokesperson introduces the review and a second voice reads what the guest said. The video animates what is said by showing images that correspond with the reviewer’s interests. If they refer to the quaint town, the farmers’ market, the beach, the breathtaking, spacious villas, the fully equipped kitchens and the amazing views, then these are featured in the video.
The effect is outstanding as travelers get to experience exactly what others loved about their stay. HHR videos are authentic: If there is something the guest did not like, the video will not gloss over it. Being 100% authentic is an absolutely vital virtue. If there is something that was not a great experience there is generally a reason. The review video will explain that and also show the managers’ response. Review videos are part of an overall campaign to build brand awareness and reputation.
About St. Lucia Villas – Poinsettia
Poinsettia St. Lucia is one of the first villa resorts to implement a “Why Book Direct Strategy”.
The island is a lush tropical holiday destination often featured in major media such as the NY Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/13/travel/36-hours-in-st-lucia.html
It is a popular upscale Caribbean tourism market and second home to many celebrities. It was made famous in celeb circles by Amy Winehouse who had a home there.
Poinsettia is an affordable three star villa resort, with many 5 star ratings, on the Vigie Bay close to the Harbour in Castries.
Related – If you find this helpful you will love the Book WEBSITE by Ian–