How to Grow Your Direct Bookings
3 minute read. Last updates January 2020.
The ground around direct bookings is always changing and shifting, so as we come into 2020, here are our latest thoughts on growing your direct channel. Whilst somethings stay the same and somethings need to be tweeked, improved or changed completely.
The right call to action
Google wants your pages to have one or two calls to action. This might be to check availability or call, or it might be to enquire. It should not be to do all three and more. Consider each website page and what your call to action really should be for your target guests. Google made a decision in the last two years that page score is affected by the clear purpose of a page and that each pages content should link to one or maximum two clear goals, or actions.
Market your highlights
When people come direct, they need to know what they are getting. The best way to do this is to review what your product and service offers consistently and highlight detail. For example: 50 MB wifi download, secure parking and espresso makers. Whatever your perks, having consistency in what you always offer, builds your brand and direct proposition. This has always been the case, but for some reason it often gets neglected in direct marketing. Better content management systems and booking engines make this easier to do now.
The direct deal makes you sticky
The power of the deal cannot be underestimated. Offer a deal directly. This can be a lower price point, or an inclusion. Pick one thing that you will market consistently and that will resonate with potential and return guests that visit your website again and again. People visit lots of websites before booking, or calling. If they visit yours website three times – what message will stick and encourage them to book direct?
Chatbox vs enquire
If you can answer questions fast, have a chatbox online. If you can’t use an enquire form and only collect the minimum required to start a conversation and help them. Less is more, when building trust and rapport. They will give more details once you’ve helped them. The shift away from standard communication to chat and multi -communication is happening rapidly. Think about your office? How often does a conversation happen: over email, on skype, Whatsapp and in person, or on the phone. Chat is firmly one part of the communication mix now for people.
Speed and usability
People don’t have the patience they used to. Test your website pages on Google’s dev tools to see the page speed and check your performance in Google Web Master tools. You’ll find what technical improvements will help keep users on your website. Test your booking engine like a guest. If you can’t book easily what the guest wants to, then they can’t. It's go easier to see what needs to be improved, so you can use the tools and choose whether to invest in optimising your website.
Use data to help
Booking.com, Expedia and others are using data to be more persuasive in getting reservations. You can too! Find software that will give you social proof, urgency messaging, anchoring and scarcity. Not sure what these things are, then download our free guide to being more persuasive in reservations. Plus use the data you have in Google Analytics, or other tools to see what dates people are searching for on your website. If you can't access or don't have this data, you are missing out on learning opportunities.
You can use quantitive and qualitative data. If you want to see what users are engaging with a tool like Hotjar will show you hwo they use your website and booking engine.
Choose social media channels that fit
If you run events in certain communities, whether punk rockers, or planet activists, the chances are the events are discussed in places such as facebook groups. Featuring in those, means you can engage more and learn what your guests will be after. If you are a trendy hotel targetting affluent professionals for higher ticket stays, then Instagram is likely a better place to spend your time and shape you brand experience.
Monitor conversion and traffic over time
You will have fluctuations day to day, but over time, months, or each year, you should see a steeady increase in website traffic and your conversion rate (so either website visiters to bookers, or booking engine entrances to bookings) should maintain or grow. If they go backwards, then it's flag to look into what the issue is. Start there and work out whether it's rates, reviews, website experience, paid search, organic search, changes from Google shifting the goalposts. As long as you are recognise that you are either growing, or shrinking direct vi traffic and conversions, then if they are regressing you can review why.
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