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How to increase online bookings? It’s a question we hear time and time again…
The truth is there are many strategies, but with so many routes to market, how should you be prioritising your time when it comes to online marketing?
From managing availability with the OTAs (Online Travel Agents, e.g. Expedia) to running a social media campaign, what works best to increase online bookings depends on a number of factors.
1. How Good Is Your Website?
On new projects we usually find that the best place to focus our efforts is in the website user experience, or to put it in more technical terms “conversion optimisation”.
Conversion optimisation is the process of looking at the user’s journey through a website and uncovering areas where they are leaving, perhaps because they feel frustrated or confused.
Minor tweaks can often lead to massive results. For example when working on The Apartment Service project we found many users were leaving the site on the booking form. With a little work we were able to simplify the form and see a dramatic increase in online bookings as a result.
2. Don’t Fight The Big Boys
Statistics show that the OTAs are taking the lion’s share of bookings online and it’s no big surprise when users are given the ability to easily compare and contrast accommodation choices.
As an accommodation operator it’s easy to become disheartened because the OTAs are in effect taking bookings away from you, however when utilised correctly the OTAs can also drive new customers you may not have had otherwise – helping to increase online bookings.
Instead of trying to compete with the OTAs, our advice is to make them an intrinsic part of your online strategy. Simplify management of your data across OTA’s by using channel management software such as or Gateway and use the initial contact the OTA gives you as an opportunity to convert a life-long customer to your brand.
3. Pay To Increase Online Bookings
Given their huge marketing budgets, direct competition with the OTAs is challenging.
However, as most accommodation operators only have a few key locations we can usually focus our efforts far more effectively than the OTAs.
There are many direct marketing platforms out there which can be utilised, however the best way we’ve found to initially compete is Google AdWords due to its speed to market and flexibility.