“I need more guests who book my hotel directly, but it just doesn’t work!”
There is a reason.
What helps hotels to increase business? Direct bookings, the right guests, and preferably a full house. But despite all the marketing efforts, it just doesn’t work.
And no, there’s no lecture on search engine optimization coming up, and how you can rank number 1 on Google. Sure, your guests will have to find you, but the actual problem is a different one.
Many hotel websites simply do not leave a lasting impression, and it costs hotels, guests and sales. Because if your site doesn’t stand out in the eyes of website visitors and a few clicks further, they’ve already forgotten all about you, then these are not ideal conditions for more direct bookings!
Here are 3 typical mistakes hotel websites make
and my tips on how to fix them and leave a
lasting impression with YOUR hotel website:
1. Hotels want to address as much people as possible in their marketing and attract many target groups.
The reasoning behind it: “The more guests see us, the greater our chance of occupying all rooms.”
The problem with this, however, is that you’re forced to talk to a vast crowd and your hotel will come across as one of many. Even worst, in the perception of your audience, you’re interchangeable.
If you focus on a specific group with your marketing, you will see much better results.
I know it sounds paradoxical, but in this case, less is really more: because if you try to be everything to everyone, no one feels addressed by your message.
If everything in your hotel and marketing revolves around your favorite guests (the guests who you really love having at your place, the ones that make it fun being a host) amazing things develop.
You get to know your ideal guests better and better and find that there are many similarities between you. You understand each other and appreciate each other. You know exactly what your guests want and adapt your hotel product accordingly.
Your target group is enthusiastic about the tailor-made product that you customized to their preferences. A pleasant side effect: the guests who do not suit you, slowly stay away over time.
There are hardly any complaints and your guests enthusiastically recommend you. Your hotel stands out with personality and you have more and more regular guests who appreciate your hotel product and book directly on your hotel website.
Your guests are no longer searching and comparing – they don’t need to – because they have found THEIR hotel.
It’s fun with such hotel guests. They are understanding when something goes wrong, loyal and helpful and don’t forget – they are priceless brand ambassadors when it comes to talking about and sharing their magnificent hotel experience …
A few years ago, as a hotel manager of a small boutique hotel, I experienced a hurricane with such guests. Our 30 rooms were fully occupied, the storm raged for almost 16 hours and the following morning the hotel grounds looked just the same. The hurricane had damaged the roof of the restaurant, the kitchen was full of water, the garden devastated, the pool full of leaves and branches, but that did nothing to dampen the mood.
We immediately started with the cleaning-up; two days later we had cleared away the worst and our guests could continue their vacation. There were no complaints. On the contrary, some guests insisted on giving a helping hand and enjoyed their unplanned “adventure”. The following year, almost all of them returned. (and the hotel received an award for great customer service.)
This happens when you have the “right” guests in the house. 🙂
2. The most important thing about hotel websites are stunning pictures, because they speak for themselves.
True, pictures have more impact than words, but have you ever tried to pick out a hotel for your vacation? Looked at 10 hotel websites in succession, one photo more beautiful than the other, so that at the end you no longer knew what belonged to which hotel and gave up annoyed? Because they all looked the same somehow …?
Or what do you think of hotel websites where, on the homepage, there’s an impressive photo, a listing of the facilities and a booking button? Would this convince you to book directly?
It’s like when you meet for the very first time and after half an hour your counterpart asks: “Do we go by you or by me?”
I think a bit more effort could be made. Especially if the relationship is to last a little longer ..
A good start to get to know the other person is starting a conversation and the quirky and colorful stories that are part of everyday hotel life offer plenty of material.
Delightful stories provide you with a
huge advantage in your marketing.
What happens inside the walls of a hotel in the course of a single day is astonishing:
The fresh salmon for today’s VIP lunch has still not arrived, the lady in suite # 501 had an emotional breakdown that no one can really explain; one of your best regulars is without a room because of an overbooking, and the air conditioning in one of your banquet rooms has stopped working.
Have you ever paid attention to what happens when you’re told a superb story? You feel involuntarily attracted. Your imagination and senses kick in and suddenly you are right in the middle of it.
If the story is really good, you don’t just think about it again and again, but you’ll also share it.
Most businesses first have to create the “stories” for their products, and it requires a lot of effort. In a hotel, on the other hand, stories develop naturally – day after day – a gold mine for your hotel marketing!
Because what’s happening with our attention span these days is not good. Especially online. You click on something very briefly and just as fast you click away.
The only exception: stories!
Did you know that we can remember stories
22 (!) times better than facts?
Why? People love stories because they touch and move us. We feel emotions and we can identify with the characters. Enjoyable stories leave an impression. The message sticks.
“Our hotel offers you 30 designer rooms with fantastic views, and an award-winning gourmet restaurant.” This is how most hotels advertise. And they are like two peas in a pod.
Have you ever considered giving the rooms on your hotel website a voice and letting them speak for themselves? About its amenities and the guests, it already hosted? Letting it have a friendly conversation with the reader, in a voice that has personality, humor, pride and maybe even a few quirks?
An idea that will make you stand out on the spot. (And may even help you get rooms booked that are difficult to sell ..)
3. Hotels put the features of their product in the focus of their marketing. Guests, however, are looking for a convincing REASON to book.
What is it your guests are really looking for? A cozy bed and a beautiful view, or do they long for a splendid hotel experience, that gets them the fabulous relaxation weekend, the successful meeting or the nice family celebration?
Of course, we all believe that, having checked all facts, we make our decisions rationally. But research says something different. Prof. Gerald Zaltmann from Harvard University found that a full 95% of our decisions are made in the subconscious.
Sure, before we decide on an important purchase, we collect all information and check it carefully, and we compare products and prices. We weigh, think, determine, but despite it all, we do not act as logically and pragmatically as we’d like to think, on the contrary …
How does Prof. Zaltmann bring it to the point so nicely?
“Sell the sizzling, not the steak”
If you decide for the new turbo vacuum cleaner with your housekeeper, it’s probably not so much the impressive list of technical details that gets you excited, but you suddenly have a clear picture, of how easily the cleaner glides through the room, how effectively it absorbs dirt, how easily it’s handled and how much faster the next hotel room shines with cleanliness.
It is the same with your future guests. If you want them to remember your hotel, you must attract them with something that triggers their emotions. Their desire for a lovely hotel experience, the prospect of something that’ll feel wonderful and they can really enjoy.
Use your hotel marketing to connect with your guest and let them feel: “This is great. They offer exactly what I’ve been looking for” and then, it’ll also work out with more guests and direct bookings.
Your sales increases, you improve your hotel experience further, the enthusiasm of your guests reaches new levels and they rave about your hotel. More people are paying attention and your marketing suddenly takes off, all by itself.
With no need for booking platforms and lists with hundreds of competitors….