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7 Top Tips Shared at The Latest Independent Hotel Show in London Olympia

24th January 2019

The Independent Hotel Show is a business event held in London for luxury and boutique hotels, where expert insight within the hotel industry is shared and networking opportunities are facilitated.

The purpose of the event is to satisfy the demands of hoteliers that are dedicated to improving their business. Find out about this year’s Independent Hotel Show here.

If you didn’t get the chance to attend 2018’s show, or if you could do with a refresher of the event, we have just the thing for you below.

These tips were specifically there to help smaller, independent hotels and it was led by the previous director of Expedia (Ed Goldswain) who was very knowledgeable. Hopefully, there is something different in there for you to use that you don’t already know or do…

Current best online practices to action now for a successful 2019

1.     Provide high-quality imagery

When it comes to providing images and videos of your hotel, they should be of high quality to showcase that your hotel is also of the same standard. And this does not just go for images on your website but on all of your OTA (online travel agency) profiles that your hotel has set up.

Having high-quality imagery has proven to have the power to increase direct bookings for hotels, which is what you should be aiming to achieve. In particular, images of bedrooms with a window view and natural light flowing through the room have the power to bring in more bookings.

2.     Use pop-ups to educate your visitors

Using pop-ups are a great way to sing your own praises or to promote anything on your hotel’s website. One of the best ways you can use a pop-up on your hotel’s website is with 4 compelling reasons for guests to book direct.

The benefit of this action is that you can expect a 10% uplift in conversions according to Ed, however it is important that this pop-up shouldn’t come up straight away; pop-ups that do come up straight away are more likely to make a visitor leave your website, whereas if you wait 30-60 seconds for a pop-up to appear, the likelihood is that the user will be interested in finding out more about your hotel.

An example of a pop-up incorporated into our clients’ website to help drive direct online bookings.

3.     Don’t forget about emails

Emails are still an incredibly powerful form of communication and still remain the best way to increase conversions and gain loyalty. There are so many different types of email at each stage of the customer journey, for example: thank you for booking, sorry you cancelled, your upcoming stay, following your stay, loyalty scheme email, and so on.

So, although there are other (newer and “cooler”) forms of communicating with guests, emails shouldn’t be forgotten just because they don’t seem as modern.

An example of a thank you email following a stay at the hotel and incentivising the customer to book again.

4.     Pricing is crucial – especially for seasonal events

Changing your rates is good practice when it comes to seasonal events. There’s more of a demand for your rooms, so why shouldn’t you be able to increase your prices to follow suit?

By building key local events into your calendar, it will create more demand so that you can increase the price with justification. As a general rule, you should make sure that there are no flat rates across the weekends, as quite often there will be weekends that have more demand. Also, the best rooms you should keep for your own bookings, put only the basic room rates and non-refundable rooms on your OTAs so that you’re getting all the benefits.

5.     Know your competition

Knowing your competition will give you all the ammunition you need to be able to stand out from local hotels similar to yours.

It should also be clear to the visitors the moment they land on your website how your hotel stands out from the rest and why they should be choosing to stay at your hotel as opposed to the hotel next door.

6.     Make sure you rank for your own hotel name

There’s nothing worse than when potential guests know the name of your hotel, but even when they type it into Google, it doesn’t come up in the search engine results. You need to make sure your hotel is ranking for its own name, otherwise, you will be losing a lot of business.

To help your hotel rank well for its own name:

  1. Set up Google Search Console (which is free)
  2. Run search ads
  3. Make sure every page title and meta description includes a property name
  4. If you have backlinks on reputable sites, ask for links using anchor text
  5. Make sure you have an SSL certificate on your website, or you risk being penalised by search engines (which is hard to recover from)
  6. Having a faster website load time (and page speed) will increase your chances of a higher ranking
  7. Set up Google Ads and make sure you bid on your own hotel name
  8. Consider using Metasearch as this is becoming increasingly popular for hotels, even more so than Google Ads
Example of how a hotel OTAs are outranking the main website

7.     Treat OTAs like a marketing agency

Hotels working with 2-4 OTAs (online travel agencies) have seen double the occupancy rate compared to hotels outside of this bracket, which is why there are some advantages when you manage the relationship well between your hotel business and your OTAs. Of course, with the OTAs taking huge commissions on each booking, you want to make sure that you don’t rely solely on them for bookings. Treating them like a marketing agency is how you can manage that relationship best, essentially capitalising on the extra traffic they bring to your website to increase your direct bookings:

To manage a good relationship with your OTAs whilst still reaping the benefits:

  1. Make sure you are in control of the rooms structure and cancellation policy of your rooms, don’t let the OTAs tell you how to do that
  2. Optimise all property and room descriptions and max out on bathroom images (as this has proven to make a difference) on your OTA profiles
  3. Have better rates on your own website but put them as promotional offers to keep your OTAs at bay

With OTAs driving so many people directly to your site, it’s your job to ensure those people come directly to your website next time, which you can do by:

  1. Providing a monthly newsletter with content of actual value and interest (not a newsletter that resembles a sales pitch)
  2. Promote your social channels and try to get the users on your site to follow you for more engagement and to be able to build a relationship with them

Ready to put these practices into action at your hotel?

We hope this article has given you insight into the best online marketing practices shared at the Independent Hotel Show which you can implement in your own hotel’s strategy in 2019.

If you are interested in working with a team of digital experts to help you put these practices into place, contact us here.

 

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