The website is crucial for a hotel to market itself and a vital booking channel. Yet, most hotel websites aren’t being used to their full potential. The reason for this is simple, the possibilities are unknown, or the wrong models are used. Unlike other industries, where big international companies serve as role models, hoteliers should refrain from using the websites of the big chains as benchmarks.
If a consumer visits the website of a hotel today, then the reason is not difficult to guess. He wants to get information. He is most likely in a buying-critical phase. But what happens on the website when the visitor leaves the website without booking, whether only chain or individual hotel, whether luxury or budget? Generally, nothing! If at all, remarketing campaigns with banner advertising try to bring the visitor back to the page. However, nearly 25% of consumers now use ad blockers which prevent advertisements from displaying in their browser, so those advertisements aren’t always seen. And, often, these advertisements will still run even if the guest has booked, which drains budget and resources.
The OTAs playing a role model function?
The situation is different when you visit the websites of online travel agents or shopping providers. Every effort is made to identify specific details about the visitor, which can be used to fill in a complete marketing profile of that person. With this data, the website can be tailored to that user’s preferences, booking patterns, and more. Concise advertising messages are then used to promote registration, offer relevant discounts, and retarget the user with exactly the information that he or she seeks out. This personalization significantly increases the likelihood of booking.
Direct sales as a central sales target
The cost to create and develop a good hotel website can quickly add up to tens of thousands of euro, even for an individual hotel company. Then, the hotel must promote itself, which quickly devours an additional 1,000 to 2,000 € a month. And, consider that the lifetime of a hotel website is roughly three years, then these costs repeat themselves all over again. One should therefore think that the hotel industry also tries to exploit all the potential, especially since direct sales are being propagated everywhere as a central sales target.
How to use the potential of a website
So how does a hotel identify a visitor on its website? First, there is the IP address of the device, which can show where your users are coming from. But that isn’t enough. Logging in to the site can help to identify the person. Cookies can them be set to connect the guest’s details to the IP address to complete a fuller guest profile. This is what makes OTAs so good at targeting their users. By identifying the person, their profile can be enriched with surfing behaviour. This means that the visitor can be assigned a given attribute, for example, the visitor has looked at rooms but did not book. The hotel could then support the visitor in their booking journey by email marketing, offering a booking discount, upgrades, and more. Depending on the visitor’s browser settings, the website can identify that user for several months and react accordingly. This is all simple to do with a proper website setup, coupled with a strong CRM and booking engine like dailypoint’s.
Tailored communication made easy
Following a booking path isn’t enough. The hotel can further enrich the guest profile and create more tailored communication by tracking the visitor’s interest. For example, if the potential guest visits the spa page several times, this should be added to the CRM and used to customize offers automatically (eg. in newsletters sent from dailypoint). The hotel can take it a step further by customizing certain content in the website for the user based on his or her interest. Even pictures can be edited (eg. use the family picture with playing children for a guest that travels with family, but not for a couple looking for a romantic getaway).
An essential precondition: A central platform
Necessary for this is a central platform like dailypoint™, in which all data flows in, and is connected between the hotel’s PMS, website, email platform, and more. The term for this is called Central Data Management (CDM), which is simply a data hub or a next-generation CRM. The connection between website and CDM takes place via interfaces. Unlike many think, the connection is usually no problem, so long as the provider offers a public interface (API). This is usually published on the website and any experienced website programmer can hereby independently and thus inexpensively integrate the data.
Sales success in the age of digitization is not a question of budget, but rather a knowledge of the opportunities offered. If the hotel industry does not want to lose further ground, hotel managers should take an example from the online travel agents and learn from them. Then, take steps to personalize and get to know their guests. More bookings are sure to follow.