In a low-demand context, hotels need to focus on maximizing their conversion rate. A proactive sales strategy augmented by Artificial Intelligence (AI) proves instrumental to navigate these difficult times.
Practical Ideas to Increase Direct Conversion Rates
In these low-demand times, every reservation counts. Just making hotel direct booking easy from a technical perspective is not enough. If you want to increase conversion, you need to convince hesitant customers and make sure that no potential customer leaves your website without booking.
This article will give you practical ideas and examples of how smart hotels leverage human common sense and some artificial intelligence (i.e. chatbots) to increase their direct conversion rate.
1. Focus on Hesitant Customers & Help Them Choose Your Property
Hotel self-service direct booking strategy is no longer sustainable. Hotel direct booking strategies used to rely only on highly motivated customers that would go to the hotel website, make the effort to spend time looking for the information they needed, and eventually click on book now or leave.
Before 2020, hotels could perfectly live only with this type of self-service approach to sales. Demand suddenly shrunk due to COVID -19, so hotels needed to set up proactive sales processes to capture the hesitant & lazy customers that they can no longer afford to ignore.
Rethink Your Content From Your Customers’ Perspective
The first thing you need to do is to rethink your content from the customer perspective. Instead of only having a one-size-fits-all website; why don’t you try to adapt your content based on your different customer profiles. This would make it easier for customers to “connect” with your content and for you to push the right arguments to convince specific traveler segments. For more details see this quick tutorial on how to make hotel content and sales process more engaging.
Video: Tip to Increase Your Hotel Direct Sales: Leverage Customer Personas
Joie de Vivre Hotels is a good example. Online visitors can engage with their website and signal what is important for them and get the right argument to book.
On Joie de Vivre Hotels website customers can access content based hotel amenities but also based on their interests.
Chatbots Help Your Customers Find The Right Information Instantly
Some travelers have precise doubts and require answers that might not be on the hotel website because too much information kills information. That’s where chatbots become essential, since most customers won’t call your hotel. Chatbots conversational format makes it effortless for customers to instantly access the precise hotel information they need to be reassured and make a purchase decision. On top of delivering information, chatbots are actively guiding customers through the booking process.
Chatbots deliver highly relevant content instantly and on-demand.
2. Re-Engage Customers That Didn’t Complete Their Direct Booking
It is important to make sure to re-engage customers that have stopped somewhere in their booking process.
Create a Proactive Sales Follow Up Process
The key to maximizing conversion is to master the concept of a qualified lead. Sometimes anonymous visitors on your website will turn into customers immediately and that is great. Some other times anonymous visitors are not ready to book, but can still share valuable information with you such as their name, contact details, key interests, dates of stay, etc. In that case, they become qualified leads. Remember that traffic is expensive and you can’t let them go just like that! You must proactively follow-up on by email or phone. See below an example of a booking request sent to staff by a hotel chatbot. With this summarized information hotel sales team can easily follow up on booking requests that weren’t converted automatically.
Hotel Sales Follow-up Best Practices
Many hoteliers used to rely only on website conversion because they did not have the necessary human resources to follow up manually on the leads that originated from their chatbots. In 2020, chatbot providers, such as Quicktext, are able to integrate with email automation solutions & CRM so that customers can be proactively reengaged with a relevant email (in accordance with GDPR principles your chatbot must, of course, capture customer opt-in).
Customers will welcome your email as long as you follow certain best practices:
Summarize the Customer’s Request
Customers must be able to instantly recall your hotel and their search.
Make an Attractive Offer & Direct Link to Your Booking Engine
Keep things extremely simple and clear. Focus on relevant options & bestsellers. Avoid giving too many choices.
Use the Right Arguments
If the customer asked details about breakfast to your chatbot, it is probably important to leverage it in your follow up email. Here the best thing to do is to identify your key selling points and the benefits you can offer to direct customers and use them based on what is relevant for them.
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If you want to sell your hotel rooms you need to do more than display them and expect customers to buy. If you want to succeed you need to convince your customers. At the end of the day, booking a room is like a love relationship: you don’t need to be the best looking hotel, but you definitely need to be the one that makes each customer feel that you are the best possible match for one night or more.