There's no question tourism businesses need to be online. A rapidly increasing 66%* of New Zealanders book their accommodation online, internationally the figures are similar, with Australia at 70%. The New Zealand business travel market remains the most active with 71%* of arrangements booked via the internet.
The data speaks for itself, but what is often underestimated, is the importance of guests booking their room on your own website. Yet numerous properties opt to instead send prospective guests off their own site to a third party booking engine, and are charged a tidy sum for the effort.
A recent study by Nomura Group revealed Booking.com and Expedia (Hotels.com) control more than 65%** of the European indirect online hotel sales. It’s surprising how many proprietors accept paying in excess of 15% commission to online travel agents (OTAs), yet hesitate to invest a significantly lower sum to improve their own presence in the marketplace.
The case for building a solid online presence of your own has never been stronger. A smart website and integrated booking engine remain the most effective way to truly engage your guests online, and when done well, it will increase your revenue and reduce your external costs.
Here are 3 ways you can improve your online booking experience;
1. Rate confidence
Feature a promise of 'Best Price Guarantee' prominently on your website, including in your booking engine's rate description field. This gives potential guests peace of mind that when they book direct with you, they are receiving the very best deal available. If you discount, it's important to always show your Standard rate above any reduced rate to reflect how much the guest stands to save.
Give your potential guests a choice of rate options and add-ons. Whether it's a package including breakfast or entry to a local event; empowering your guests with choice and adding extra value strengthens your offering to them and provides an incentive for direct booking. This approach not only has the potential to reduce your channel costs, it increases your opportunity to generate additional revenue at the time of booking.
2. Promo Codes
Promotional Codes or ‘Promo Codes’ enable you to personalise your rates for specific guests and track the uptake of promotional campaigns. A Promo Code is a combination of words or letters of your choice (eg; Topdeal) that a guest enters in your booking engine to receive a nominated rate or room type.
Promo codes can be used to personalise, identify and track. Uses include featuring promo codes on your advertising campaigns, which will enable you to monitor conversion and ROI. Number of ad specific Promo codes entered = number of conversions. Promo codes also work well for events - provide delegate groups with their own code '123Conference', so they receive your nominated room rate and show the number of rooms available to that group on your booking engine. Keep an eye out for our '3 ways to maximise Promo Codes' article in an upcoming eNewsletter.
3. Get Mobile
Let's not forget the tourist on the go. Whether on the move or from the comfort of home, over half of all New Zealander's use their mobile device to research and book travel online, globally it's even higher. So how does your mobile booking experience stack up? Can potential guests easily browse and book with you from their smartphone or tablet?
Whether it's through responsive design or a specific mobile site, optimising your site for mobile devices is critical. Your site's SEO and performance also relies on the experience your website delivers. If searched from a mobile device; the better the mobile experience, the higher you'll rank.
It's really not that hard to get your visitor's mobile experience up to scratch. If you already have an evoSuite website that features an evoSuite booking engine, we want you to reap the benefits being mobile brings. Clients with both these evoSuite modules are now eligible to get our evoSuite templated mobile website, including mobile booking engine, (usually valued at $500) free of charge. Contact our team on email@example.com now to arrange your free mobile site.
The advantages of keeping new and returning guests on your own website and enabling them to book and pay online, far outweighs costly alternatives. To get the best edge on your competitors, when combined, the evoSuite website and evoSuite booking engine analytics provide clear performance reporting on website visit behaviour, conversion rate and revenue generation so you can identify areas working well and focus on any requiring improvement.
To discover more about reducing OTA fees and boosting your direct bookings, contact our team on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07 541 1111 today.
*Source Consumer Barometer.