Hotels for the last few years have been trying to increase their direct online bookings and lowering their dependency on OTA’s, especially since the refund policies by booking.com and others due to the COVID-19 crisis hurt the hotels financially.
Furthermore, for many independent hotels who look to advertise online, when a cost analysis was performed, the ROI on advertising via Adwords, HPA, remarking and social media to increase direct bookings was shown to be costlier than receiving reservations via OTAs. For this very reason, we still see continued dependency which in some cases over 85% of all online bookings come from OTAs.
Post Covid-19. hotels should not lose sight that the fundamentals on increasing direct bookings remain the same. Unique offers & discounts, user-friendly booking engines that make booking easy, painless and secure. Hotels should also make it easier for clients to connect with you, chat with your staff. This is fundamental in allowing your future guests to feel comfortable in reserving directly with you too.
Some hotels have tried Facebook messenger, chatbots and WhatsApp bots to engage with their clients which, to a certain degree, has been successful. Yet, guests still like a human voice to interact with them. We also know that the hotel’s reservation and front desk staff are the best marketers of your hotel. They can help your guest through the booking process as well as describe and offer up-sell packages to complement their stay. Furthermore, owing to the COVID crisis, guests want to know before they arrive what type of health protocols they will have to adhere to, what safety measures are in place etc. By providing an easy and efficient way that your guests can connect with your hotels 24hrs a day will be the key in not only increasing your direct bookings but answering any questions or queries your guests may have in the “new normal” era.
Recently Hotelient started working with a company called Pingume who specialises in call widgets and over the next few months will be implementing the call widget across our client’s websites. Their latest version will allow guests to further engage with your hotel.
Here is how it works
The guest clicks the call widget icon in the lower right/left-hand corner of the website. AI technology will prompt the widget to open at the ideal time of it looks like the visitor is leaving the website.
The pop-up prompts them to enter their phone number to request an instant callback or text message. The guest can also schedule a call later when it is more convenient for them.
The platform will then automatically call your hotel and when reservation or front desk staff answer the phone they are prompted to claim the call by simply pressing one on their phone.
After your staff accept the call, the software automatically initiates a call to your guest connecting them within 14 seconds.
If the guest chooses to be contacted via text message you are immediately notified of new incoming messages. You have access to a simple dashboard to send, receive, and manage text message conversations online or on the go.
Making it easier for your guests can connect with you will increase your direct bookings. Also, some hotels are using this to offer unique discounts that are only available over the phone as recent studies have suggested voice calls receive a higher conversion rate. Another benefit is for international customers will not be paying for an international cost which in some cases is a barrier in speaking with the hotel. As your reception staff is available 24hrs a day, it will help hotels provide instant support. This is because the usual trend is activity on your website is usually later in the evening, especially for leisure travellers.
So in essence, this widget is not only a communication tool to make it easier for your guests to connect, but it is also a booking conversion tool to increase direct bookings. Now more than ever, direct website conversions have to be the focus for hotels as they focus on profitability whilst having to deal with low occupancy in the short to mid-term.
It also features call recording so that management can monitor and utilise for training purposes along with a host of statistical data on open and use rate.
All in all, it is a powerful widget that has increased conversions by up to ten times. It will help hotels win more guests by making their website the last website they visit on their booking journey.
To take advantage of Pingume’s free trial offer and introduced their call widget on your website so start receiving calls for your prospective guests visit the following link
If you need more visibility for your website, Hotelient can also help you implement marketing strategies to help you maximise your online conversions.