How Making a Direct Hotel Booking has Changed
It’s a well-known fact that leisure travellers are using search engines to plan travel and direct hotel booking destinations. Nothing new there. However, when surveyed most travellers said that they usually start their travel planning online before deciding where the destination will be. More importantly, travellers are using search engine results and videos posted from other travellers when deciding where to book their trips.
This change in travel planning behaviour is creating a whole new opportunity for hotels and other leisure businesses to take advantage of, in order to increase direct hotel booking guests. If hotel marketing managers are armed with visually engaging websites that are fully responsive to mobile devices, they will enjoy more traffic from leisure travellers and an increase in direct hotel bookings.
The hotel website and direct hotel bookings
Your website is a portal for getting direct hotel booking travellers to your venue. Not enough can be said about the importance of a solid well designed, user-friendly website that allows travellers to book direct at more competitive rates than through Online Travel Agents (OTAs).
Additionally, though, the website needs to have an excellent search engine ranking. When leisure travellers begin the online search for travel destinations you will want to be in the first position of search engine results. Again no surprises here, but keywords are hugely important and can increase search engine ranking of your venue from photos/videos posted by Instagram Influencers. You do not need to guess what these phrases are, just ask a sample of your customers what they would search for. Then ask Influencers to use those keywords when posting content on social media or their blogs with back links to your website. Why? Well, what’s more powerful than Google ranking your hotel on page one and Google images being populated with an abundance of user-generated content from Influencers?
Why use Instagram and influencers?
Of the many aspects of search engine rankings, using Instagram can bring you the best results by the simplest of means. Think about it:
- 1 in 2 mobile users log into Instagram once every day; and
- 1 in 3 check in multiple times a day.
To help you see more clearly Swayy has gathered statistics that highlight the benefits of Influencers and Instagram. Take a look at item #10 on Swayy’s FAQs for Leisure Businesses or download our Influencer marketing factsheet from our homepage here.
Each time an Instagram post mentions your hotel it helps your ranking, so if travellers are using their mobiles to search and plan a trip then you will gain increased direct hotel booking traffic with Instagram because you can click through directly to the hotels booking page of their website. The data shows, based on consumer behaviour, that Instagram users do not even need to have a trip in mind. Subconsciously they are still being influenced as to where they should go next, where they should stay and what they should do when they get there by beautiful, carefully curated influencer generated content.
Online Travel Videos
Developments in mobile technology have created another important new medium in travel planning: online video. Almost half of all leisure travellers watch videos of other travellers while searching for holiday destinations. These same travellers say they are prompted to book directly with the hotel after watching the videos. This makes a huge impact on direct hotel bookings especially if the videos are posted by Influencers with highly engaged followers who fall within your target market.
Videos of fellow travellers are commonly found on sites like YouTube, but Instagram users have rapidly adopted Instagram stories and Boomerangs to highlight their travel experiences. If you’re not sure what a “Boomerang” is, watch this short video “What is Instagram’s new Boomerang app”.
Use a diverse strategy to reach your target travellers
The journey that travellers make from a) beginning the search for direct hotel booking sites, to b) completing the process, can be complex and hotels can lose an unnecessarily large number of customers unless they keep their potential customers engaged throughout the entire journey. Hotels need to address the key vulnerabilities throughout the direct booking process to keep travellers focused on their venue. While the use of search engines on the internet is still increasing, in the leisure space Instagram is outpacing all search methods. Why? Because through Instagram potential customers can experience the hotel on a more personal level. This has fuelled the growth of tagging partners or friends in pictures amplifying digital word of mouth even further.
By using Influencers who have loyal followers, hotels can enjoy significant increases in direct hotel bookings over the course of a campaign. Increased customer loyalty, diverse customer bases and expanded reach into new markets is also possible. If you’re still hesitant, have a quick scan of Instagram’s impact.
Your website is your lobby
Again, it cannot be stressed enough: your website is your lobby. This is where you can take hold of your potential guests. This is where you guide them to your venue throughout the entire search and booking process. You need to be first in the search engine results, which can be achieved by using keywords on your site (check out Google AdWords) and Instagram posts from Influencers and guests.
This multi-pronged approach with Influencer marketing at the very start of the customer experience is forging a new frontier for marketers focused on increasing direct hotel bookings. It is a challenge but hoteliers that stay informed of and abreast the new trends can outmanoeuvre their competition.
How can Swayy help?
Here at Swayy, we’ve done the research and we have our fingers on the pulse of digital technology that can help your hotel gain momentum in the leisure travel market.
Give us a call today and let us help you plan your strategy for the next transition in winning the race for more direct hotel bookings!