Towards more direct bookings
In this second post about Bed & Breakfast websites we’ll look at a strategy to land direct bookings from your website. Currently, the travel and accommodation landscape is being hijacked by the multinational Online Travel Agencies. Not being registered with the OTA’s can significantly reduce the visibility of a B&B in a crowded market. Operators need to take an active role in grabbing the attention of potential visitors and encourage them to book directly rather than through an OTA or mega search sites such as Trivago.
The importance of your own website to beat the OTA’s.
When you want more direct bookings, you have to ensure that your potential visitor’s journey ends on the booking page on your own website. It’s common practice for people looking for accommodation to use the mega search sites to get a summary of what is available in your location. Many of them follow on to research the venues through direct web searches in order to get more information on the actual B&B’s website. This is great news. But what can you do to grab the booking?
- Make sure your website looks modern. Creating an accommodation business website should not be a set and forget task. Online style trends change every year and while you don’t need to be at the bleeding edge unless your place is at the luxury high-end of the market.
- Don’t confuse your site visitors. Make sure you only display the things that someone looking to accommodation are after. Use this as a guide:
– Engage visitors to confirm they are in the the right place for what they want,
– Educate them about your venue location, rooms and facilities.
– Entice them to make a booking by having answers to all their questions
– Convert them by making it easy to select dates and pay without sending them off your website.
- Optimise your website (not just your booking page). People looking for places to stay are often doing so on mobile devices. It’s crucial that your website works optimally on all screen sizes and on all the major web browsers (Firefox, Chrome and Safari). Make sure there is a good balance of images and text and that all your links actually work. You will lose people if something on your site is broken. Add long-tail keywords to your pages that are being used by your target audience when they do searches. Keyword competition with the OTA’s is hard to win but it’s worthwhile doing some research and be prepared to try different phrases.
- Don’t try to appeal to everyone. Using what you know about your ideal visitor, make sure the imagery, text and supporting information appeals to those people specifically. Avoid generic information and images. Only show pictures and information about your venue.
- Avoid becoming a Tourist Information centre. Many accommodation venues think that they need to publish details about everything there is to do and see in their district. Studies have shown that travellers first research destinations > decide where they are going > then look for somewhere to stay. This means they already know what they can do and see and have decided on your district so you don’t need to convince them. The best practice is to display some basic information about local highlights as a re-assurance of their decision. But don’t distract them from making the decision to book your place – right now.
Time for a change?
Web design trends change very rapidly so it doesn't take long for your B&B site to start looking 'a bit last year' (or worse!)
Refreshing the design can significantly improve your online presence and boost your revenue.
Find out if it’s time to revisit and improve your B&B website.