… well, the list of things to look for seems endless. However, there are a few incredibly important points that any accommodation business can instantly implement. The good news for those who work with JULIA: many things are already ticked off your list, as is well known, you are JULIA directly online bookable and leave no guest waiting for hours for their longed for offer. Nevertheless, there are a few other tips that probably every reader within hours, if not minutes, can implement to help generate more bookings:
The Internet has never shown a region and its accommodations as transparent as it does now. As convenient as it is for the guest, it has become so difficult to stand out from the crowd of places to stay and win the guest over. Most important is what the traveler finds at the time of their search and can go on to book quickly and easily.
It is a well known fact that Booking.com, as one of the largest and most popular booking portals is at the forefront of the results in any Google search for accommodation. It is all the more important that on any of the booking portals where you appear (including the local and regional destination pages) that they can also list the actual availability in your accommodation. To maximize the potential number of bookings you achieve, you should make visible as full a complement of your actual accommodation availability wherever it appears online as possible. Why? This is explained in the following paragraphs:
Do not be filtered away
Of course you will be visible on the booking platforms if you place just 1 room in a room category online. But the question is: to what extent? Do you really want to miss out on a family looking for 2 rooms? Or the nice chess club, perhaps looking for 6 rooms? If the answer is no, you should increase the capacity of rooms offered to the maximum for the booking platforms!
Increasingly, your potential guests are using the tried and tested filtering capabilities of the booking websites to find their perfect fit in the overcrowded list of suppliers. Therefore, do not let yourself be filtered away, and communicate all of the features and facilities that you offer as a place to stay wherever you have a presence. These include, for example, free Wi-Fi, the various types of meals and drinks, and also all of the room categories that are available in your accommodation. Because it would be too bad if a family finds the family room which perfectly fits their needs, and the information about what else you can offer them, only if they happen to end up visiting your website. Which brings us to the next point:
Communicate everything that you offer on your website
A tip that I also like to give to lectures: the booking platforms, especially Booking.com, are usually one step ahead of us. So it’s no coincidence that your platform listing is adorned with big images and features icons, and it’s no coincidence that your services, like free Wi-Fi, proximity to city hotspots, or free parking, immediately jump to the eyes of potential guests.
So remember to check (and keep up to date) on your website:
- How long does a guest need to search your website to see that your WiFi is not just free for bookings made through the booking platforms?
- How many pages does your guest need to visit to find out not just the address of your accommodation, but the proximity to local attractions and public transport that would be relevant to them?
- How many pictures does the guest have to look at to find out if the superior double room has a bath or a shower?
You find all these points on platforms at a glance. So you should also communicate these relevant booking reasons quickly on your own website, if a guest has finally made it to your website.
Your guests decide where they book
Your guest will probably have had many previous experiences of booking and staying in accommodation, and these can have a significant influence on what they expect when choosing to book and stay with you. In most accommodation these days there will be a flat screen tv and free WiFi as a basic standard. If you do not offer these, you are probably already at a disadvantage.
Just as you can not influence the expectations of guests when it comes to your facilities, also the search and booking behavior of guests is not something that is under your control. This means that as a host, you cannot influence whether a potential guest is looking for their holiday on a mobile phone or laptop, which search engine they are using, and ultimately, whether they are booking directly from your website or through a booking platform. Of course you can give the guest an incentive to book directly with you (and always should!), but at the end of the day, the guest decides if they accept the sweetener for booking directly on your website. When booking directly with you, the guest has some new things to consider:
- to deal with your website’s online booking engine (which is new territory for them, in contrast to the use of already well known booking platforms that they will probably have used before)
- to adapt to (and trust) your payment collection method
- to enter all of their personal information (which historically they have probably submitted to at least one of the booking platform sites).
Therefore, let your guest decide when and where they book, because in the long run, you do not lose the guest to a platform, but to another host who already gives the guest the choice.
It is a waste of time and effort to try and control guests in their search and booking behavior if you want to continue to generate future bookings. Improve your offering on your own website so it gives the guest every opportunity to book directly with you, and improve your offering on the booking platform websites to make your accommodation offer stand out against the competition, then let the guest decide!