For your hotel, an online Booking Engine is essential if you wish to add a direct sales channel to the ones you had so far, reducing the commissions you pay to your intermediaries. Most travellers will visit your hotel’s website, even if they discover it through an OTA.
But if you aim at making the most of this traffic, your Booking Engine will need to comply with certain features beyond the booking management, for example:
- Perfect user experience, through a customised booking process in a small number of steps.
- Multi-language and multi-currency capability to be able to receive visitors from all over the world.
- Mobile compatibility (Web Responsive design) to provide access to travellers who are on the move.
- Ability to offer more customisation options for the stay through your Booking Engine.
Keep in mind that your Booking Engine is a very powerful tool that can be appropriate to any marketing strategy, allowing your company to maximise its income. Make sure you make the most of your Booking Engine by following these tips:
- Prioritise the integration of the Booking Engine and the website
A seamless integration between the Booking Engine and the website will make the booking experience much easier for visitors. Obviously, the website must be responsive to adapt its content to mobile devices, perfectly harmonise design with functionality, and maintain your corporate identity throughout the booking process. All this will improve the customers’ trust in the hotel.
- Create a solid foundation for search engine optimisation
Although it is not directly related to your Booking Engine, SEO is vital. If your website is not optimised for SEO, even if the interface, design and Booking Engine are amazing, it will not attract enough traffic to generate bookings.
- Implement calls to action
Calls to action try to instill urgency in the prospective buyer. Putting the focus on the price, for example, through urgent messages, can make users think that they are in danger of missing a special offer, or that they can get something extra. They are an excellent way to speed up the booking process and increase conversions. They are the famous ‘Book now, pay later!’ or ‘Only two rooms left!’
- Use promotional code banners
If you have launched a promotion, let the website visitors perceive it clearly, let it catch their eyes. Show a banner that is clearly visible and stands out on the main page, using the Booking Engine so that guests can easily see and select the applicable dates and benefit from the promotion.
- Set an early-bird rate
By offering a discount on early booking rates, you can increase short-term cash flow by charging the entire prepaid booking. You can control when to get an early fee through the extranet of your Booking Engine.
- Play with last-minute price offers
Establishing attractive last-minute rates is very interesting if your goal is to increase short-term occupancy or fill in the missing rooms to be fully booked. Compensate the decrease in income by requesting a high deposit, thus limiting the amount of cancelled bookings or no-shows. Maximise the visibility of these offers, by placing them next to calls to action.
- Attract guests with special rates for longer stays
Maintain the occupancy rate, by increasing the duration of your customers’ stay. Offer them a discount for booking one or more days than those requested, clearly indicating the difference in price and encouraging them to book additional nights. However, make sure you have control over the nights the discount will be applied on: the first one, the last one, the cheapest one, etc.
- Promote package offers
Packaging extras such as tickets to events, attractions or restaurants offers guests a unique one-stop-shop or shopping experience they love. Offer your guests something that they cannot find at travel agencies or on search platforms and, once again, tempt them to stay longer.
If used intelligently, a Booking Engine can be a marketing tool that will encourage your guests to become regular and loyal customers of your hotel, further increasing their direct bookings and thus, your future income.