Many hotels are approaching direct bookings the same way they did 5 years ago. While the basics still apply, new opportunities have emerged to drive engagement and Conversion. In this article, you’ll learn how to engage customers during the booking process and increase Conversion.
Enhancing Your Hotel Direct Booking Process: a Key Asset for Hotel Resilience & Recovery
You can always acquire paid or organic traffic. However, in times of high volatility, your ability to get the most Conversion out of your traffic increases your business resilience and accelerates recovery.
Most hotels have a decent website and a good booking engine. This allows you to get direct bookings from customers that are already motivated to book your hotel. At this time, your biggest direct booking opportunity is to engage hesitant visitors and convert them into guests.
5 Ways to Engage Customers at The Booking Stage to Increase Conversion
Below you find five tips to engage customers during the booking process and increase conversion.
1. Expand your direct booking horizon beyond your website.
Your website is probably your #1 source of direct bookings now. You also have traffic on other direct platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Google My Business.
These channels are great marketing tools that create awareness through images and stories. They are also great platforms you can use to drive direct sales.
For example, you can leverage hospitality AI-powered chatbots like Quicktext, to engage visitors, provide them with precise information on demand, and guide them to your booking engine.
Video: leverage Conversational Strategies to Drive Direct Sales on Social Platforms
In the video below you’ll learn more about how to leverage conversational strategies to drive direct sales on social platforms.
2. Adopt a mobile-first approach
Responsive websites are an excellent first step but are not always sufficient since most hotel traffic is now coming through mobile devices.
E-commerce on the web was all about allowing customers to search on your website and buy in self-service mode.
Mobile is about delivering content instantly and on-demand.
First, try to have a few pages as possible on your website. It is much easier on mobile to scroll through a 1-page website than to click on a hamburger menu with multiple sub-sections.
With a brief attention span on mobile, using a hotel chatbot is a great way to engage hesitant customers on a small device and guide them through your complete direct booking process, all in one place.
Customers expect 24/7 on-demand information and fast resolutions of their queries, so slow response times will create frustration and hurt conversion rates.
AI chatbots deliver 24/7 booking support, with instant and personalized answers to frequent queries such as reservation requests, check-in, hotel amenities, cancellation policy, etc… that ensure conversion and customer satisfaction.
3. Personalize your room and upselling offers
When customers have too many offers, it becomes harder to make a quick purchase decision. The choice overload effect happens when too many choices overwhelm customers. It creates decision paralysis and hurts your direct sales.
Making sure guests book the room is your top priority, and your front offer should only focus on this step.
Then, as they approach arrival, you can now re-engage them in an upsell process with a personalized email or upsell management software.
4. Offer real direct booking benefits
It is mandatory to offer clear, direct booking benefits. The best price guarantee is excellent, but it doesn’t create extra value to entice customers to book your hotel directly.
One of the best initiatives we’ve seen is an X amount voucher at the restaurant.
Other benefits include a free upgrade based on availability, a discount on breakfast. If you have a loyalty program, make sure that people can benefit from the first booking and sign up from your booking engine.
Making sure guests book the room is your top priority, remember?
5. Re-engage customers that abandon
Not all customers are ready to book now. Some customers will abandon their reservations because they are still in the “research phase”.
Make sure that you capture as many customer details as possible. Chatbots are a great way to turn anonymous visitors into qualified leads. Your chatbot should always capture customers’ fundamental interests, reservation details, and contact information in the conversion process.
This way, if the customer doesn’t complete their reservation, you can quickly re-engage attractive prospects either via an automated email or a call back with a personalized offer.
This kind of strategy yields a conversion rate of 20 to 25%.
Embracing AI Opportunities
Overall, hoteliers offer an easy way to book. To increase direct bookings, the key is to engage hesitant customers. To do this, you need to drive engagement through all of your direct platforms.
Mobile is redefining e-commerce from pure self-service to assisted sales. This conversational format allows hotels to offer much more personalized service and be more proactive in re-engaging them if they do not complete the process.
Savvy hoteliers have embraced new technologies such as AI and big data solutions for hotels to optimize their conversion rates and stand out from the competition:
- Increase traffic to the booking engine
- Automate reservations 24/7
- Feed their CRM and enable re-engagement strategies
Free Checklist: 10 Hotel SEO Strategies to Increase Direct BookingsSearch engine optimisation (SEO) is critical for hotels because it gives them the visibility to attract hotel guests directly to their website. Eighty-one per cent of customers and 94 per cent of B2B purchasers will conduct research online before making a purchase, putting hotels with a solid online presence at an advantage. Click here to download the Checklist “10 Hotel SEO Strategies to Increase Bookings".
The booking is the first step in making an excellent first impression and setting the right expectations for a great stay at your hotel. Once the guest has booked with you, be sure to keep them engaged by adopting the same practices throughout their experience.