For Bed and breakfast owners across the globe, direct bookings are still the preferred way to fill rooms. OTA services can be exceptionally valuable and are often necessary for maximum exposure. However, in order to achieve maximum profitability and retain the highest level of control over each booking and guest experience, most innkeepers believe that direct bookings are still the best. The hospitality industry is all about the people and when third parties like Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) get involved, often the personal touch is diminsihed.
Here are 5 things you can do to get more direct bookings for your bed and breakfast:
- Offer a secure, mobile responsive website – According to Google, 40% of US travel site visits are now coming from mobile devices. Additional studies show a 50% higher booking rate when a mobile-optimized booking experience is available. Google’s “Micro-Moments” study found that 70% of smartphone users use their mobile devices to research travel options. If these statistics aren’t enough, it’s important to note that Google’s algorithm prioritizes mobile-friendly websites in search results. What about security? In August 2014, Google announced that HTTPS is a ranking factor in their search algorithm. Starting in October 2017, the Google Chrome web browser began showing a “not secure” warning when users started filling out a contact form or search field. The studies and statistics here are endless and the results are in. A secure, mobile responsive website is a must for higher search engine rankings and guest experience.
- Participate in online chats and social messaging – Online chats and social messaging offer innkeepers the opportunity to answer questions and engage potential guests in real time. These text based technologies offer guests instant customer service and the ability to make quick decisions about their travel choices. It may also sway potential guests in their destination preference by getting to speak with you personally and know that they can reach you easily should a last minute question arise.
- Engage potential guests with email marketing – Although many people believe that email marketing is an old-school marketing tactic, it’s still one of the least expensive and effective promotional strategies. Innkeepers can get more direct bookings by highlighting current specials to their list and can enhance the reach of their social media posts and other content. Email allows you to stay in touch with previous guests to encourage repeat bookings and it allows you to engage and entice new guests to book.
- Tell your story through photos and videos – Rich visual content is essential when it comes to enticing potential guests to book with you. Numerous studies have been done that suggest our brains process images faster than text. High-resolution photos of your bed and breakfast, the rooms, the food, you and surrounding landscape and interesting local destinations can go a long way toward swaying a potential guest toward booking with you. Use your images to invite potential guests into your story. These images and video can influence potential guests far more than price.
- Sell your destination – Put together a list of local events, things to do and other interesting content about your surrounding area. Include information about interesting landmarks, local history, local celebrities and special events in your area. Showcase key areas of interest and share what makes booking with you unique. Offer little goodies that make guests want to book direct with you.
Getting more direct bookings for your B&B should be a priority in your booking strategy. It will allow you to increase your revenue and improve brand visibility.
At Innkeeper’s Advantage we help you get more direct bookings with a custom website that displays price, availability and rooms all at a glance. Our mobile booking engine is designed to make mobile booking fast so your guests won’t be discouraged waiting for your website to load. And best of all… with just one click of the Save button, you can instantly update your complete website content on all devices.
With Innkeeper’s Advantage your site visitors get a unique, seamless and secure online reservation experience without leaving your website. Contact us for a free live demo