ONLINE BOOKING: A MUST-HAVE FOR HOTELIERS
Today, thanks to various online booking platforms, it’s possible to book hotel rooms, airline tickets and trips online. Given that most people have access to an internet connection, online booking has not only become the fastest and most efficient booking method, but it also allows potential guests to compare destinations and hotels based on rate information and reviews posted by other travellers.
In light of the consumption habits travellers have developed in recent years, it’s essential to market your rooms on your own website.
While the efficiency of online booking platforms is often ignored, it has a real impact on consumer choices and can influence a potential guest to choose one hotel over another for as simple a reason as the fact that booking is fast and easy. Therefore, offering the right tools and clear information online is instrumental in convincing a guest to book at your hotel rather than your competitor’s.
Why you should choose an online booking engine
First, an online booking engine makes it possible for you to market your hotel directly on your own website. Since a booking engine is available at all times on your website and connected to your PMS system, potential guests who visit your site will get a precise snapshot of the rooms available as well as the rates for each type of room. The online booking engine also allows you to advertise promotions and discounts in effect at your hotel. Thus, at any time of the day, a visitor to your hotel’s website can book a room if they see a vacancy that’s of interest to them.
Also, you’ll save a lot of time by investing in a booking engine that’s connected to your PMS system since you won’t have to process all the bookings yourself. As bookings are fed automatically into your PMS system, which sends up-to-date room availability information to the booking engine, you avoid the risk of overbooking during peak periods.
By all means, sell on your own site, but don’t stop there!
In the face of growing competition, posting your rooms only on your own website can limit the scope of your activities. While you can apply certain measures to attract more people to your website, the fact remains that it’s unlikely you’ll systematically appear in the top web search results. It’s more likely that popular online booking sites, such as Expedia or Booking.com, will appear as the top web results when a traveller is looking for a hotel room. Therefore, the chances are low that a potential guest will land on your website spontaneously as there is a strong likelihood your web performance isn’t as significant as that of these specialized booking sites.
Finally, by posting your rooms on an online booking site as well as your own website, you increase the opportunities to rent your rooms to travellers who wouldn’t otherwise have booked at your hotel. Moreover, some travellers benefit from a loyalty program on these sites and book their travel only through these online agencies. Your presence on these sites allows the traveller to stay at your hotel while also enjoying the perks of their loyalty program, which is a sure way to boost their satisfaction.
Choosing the right online booking channel
Despite the benefits listed above, not all online booking channels are in step with your hotel’s marketing strategy. Be sure to choose a channel that’s in line with your strategy so that you don’t lose out when it comes to efficiency. For instance, if you invest a great deal of effort and money into showing up first in search engines, every guest who doesn’t book directly on your website would constitute a failure within the context of your strategy. The purpose of good positioning is to get a guest to book directly on your website.
Conversely, if you don’t invest in marketing a great deal or at all, you’ll appear on online booking sites even when you haven’t made any special effort to position yourself. This outcome is a considerable asset and a great help when it comes to promoting your establishment.
Finally, since each channel has a specific purpose and produces targeted results, all channels offer good opportunities to acquire guests. Keep in mind that you must calibrate and vary your room offering according to the traffic at your hotel or according to the season. If it’s the middle of peak tourist season and you only have one room left available, merely posting it on your website may be more than enough. Conversely, if you want to do something about your lower occupancy rate at a given time of the year, it may be wise to post your rooms so that they show up as the top results on online booking sites. In this way, you’ll ensure the right booking balance, and your rooms will always be showcased effectively and get optimal visibility.
Online booking: a safe option
When it comes time to give out a credit card number, consumers are wary and may be reluctant to share such information. Fortunately, efficient booking engines offer a payment system that meets security standards. Take care, though, to choose a tool that meets credit card security standards. In this way, your guests will know straightaway that the payment process is safe. Sometimes, it may even be more economical for guests to pay the full amount due directly online when they book. Not only does this allows your hotel to receive payment in advance, but you’ll also benefit from a decrease in the number of transactions related to the same guest, which will save you time!
Finally, there’s no doubt that it’s faster to pay by credit card via a booking engine than to do so at check-in or check-out at the reception desk.