It's taken years of investment, mistakes and hard work, but hotel marketers are now rapidly catching up with the digital savvy of the OTAs.
The digital counterattack is well and truly underway for hotel marketers.
And the main weapon in that counterattack is your direct-booking hotel website. We believe this tech platform should be viewed as a software application, not as a set-it-and-forget-it brochure. This is why we are constantly developing (at our own expense) new functions, features, and upgrades to our clients' hotel websites…we treat them as perpetually evolving applications, not one-time projects.
Remember, your hotel website is not only the source of your most profitable bookings, but also the nerve center and crossroads of multiple other critical technologies (retargeting, CRM tracking, social media, etc).
In the past, we've published numerous hotel website best practices articles, but today we wanted to share a few real-world examples of recent collaborations with our clients that have led to exciting hotel website innovations:
Consumers usually aren't aware that your hotel offers the exact same price as OTAs for the same rooms. So, it's up to you to continuously reinforce the message that booking direct is in their best interest.
Unfortunately, it isn't enough to simply have a Best Rate Guarantee on your website. That has very little impact on the average consumer (and often requires them to go through the hassle of completing a form just to take advantage of it). Today's guests are all about convenience, so the smartest tactic is to build your BRG into your booking engine itself, where OTA rates are displayed next to your own rate, proving to the visitor that only booking direct gets them the best prices. This type of feature will also automatically match the OTA's cheaper rate if they are out of parity.
Here's an example of one of our clients' website/booking environment where the BRG is automated… preventing abandonment to OTAs for price comparison.
Video and subtle animation are great ways to make your hotel's website more dynamic.
Video takes storytelling to the next level, giving your prospective guests a taste of your brand and a sense of place. Unfortunately, many websites slow down and lag with too much animation. It is critical to use smart technology to compress video without losing quality, so that your page load times stay lightning fast and your guests don't lose interest.
For guests, your property is just part of the experience.
After all, they're not likely taking a trip just to stay in your hotel. They want to experience the best of everything OUTSIDE your property as well. Local/regional maps can bring your location page to life by showcasing the personality of your brand and what your surrounding area has to offer. It's also a feature that the OTAs are unlikely to have.
Another way to keep your site up-to-date with fresh, experience-rich content is the Instagram API Integration. You can leverage the power of social validation and encourage new bookings by showcasing authentic guest experiences directly on your homepage, giving prospective guests even more incentive to book direct.
Here's an example from The Dalmar in Ft Lauderdale, Florida.
For the Hermosa Inn in Scottsdale, Arizona, we made it easy for guests to find the hotel's best available rate by creating a search feature called a dynamic rate calculator. This provides value to your guests by making the vacation planning process easier… showing travelers a monthly view of rates that helps them save. This user experience enhancement makes them more likely to stay on your website and book direct.
100 W Cypress Creek, Suite 550
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309
Dave Spector is a Partner in Tambourine, a 34-year old marketing technology firm specializing in driving demand, revenue and direct website bookings for tourism and hospitality clients around the world. The firm has offices in Fort Lauderdale, New York City and Bogota. Prior to Tambourine, Dave was chief marketing officer for a global software company, managing an annual marketing budget of $15 million dollars across 17 countries. Earlier in his career, Dave was a founding member of two start-ups that eventually become thriving public companies whose current revenues today exceed $300 million dollars. Dave lives in Delray Beach with his wife and daughter who constantly remind him that he knows very little about anything!
Partner: Tambourine Hotel Marketing