Digital Strategy: Driving Direct - Join me at the HEDNA European conference to learn and discuss how to improve your direct booking strategy
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Don’t judge a book by its cover, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
We’ve all heard that phrase. And as pleasant as the sentiment is, we all know that much of the time, the rule doesn’t apply. We make a lot of judgements based on face-value. We make assumptions about books based on their cover; about people based on the clothes they wear and about hotels based on their website. The hotel sector is all about experience and the guest’s experience with your brand starts the moment they click on to your website.
It’s essential to give potential guests a strong first impression of your hotel and to do that, you need to understand and play to their emotions. At the HEDNA Global Distribution Conference, running from 12 - 15 June in Dublin, I’ll be discussing effective ways to do this alongside Charlie Osmond, CEO of our integration partner, TripTease.
On Tuesday 13 June, Charlie and I will lead a fully interactive discussion on how hoteliers and other accommodation providers can optimise their digital strategies, website and booking platform to give an exceptional first impression and drive direct bookings.
It all starts with thinking like your guest. Click onto your own website and navigate it as if you’re looking for a room. When you do this, two things should strike you immediately:
1. You need your website to be visual
People are, in general, visual creatures. For most of us, we navigate and experience the world around us mainly through sight. In fact, Thermopylae Sciences has reported that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. It should then be no surprise that visuals, such as a bold typeface, a strong logo, appealing photographs and videos of your hotel rooms and grounds, will have a greater emotional impact on your shopper than a beautifully-written description.
Yet the images that really stick with us and cause us to take action are the ones we relate to. The question is, how do you get travellers to relate to visuals of your property? Easy: just add in signs of life. Instead of showing a standard image of your empty room, include a suitcase lying open on the bed, a dress hanging up in the wardrobe or a breakfast tray sitting on the bedside table. These extra little touches will stimulate viewers to imagine themselves staying in the room and encourage them to go beyond thinking, "That’s a nice room," to thinking, “I want to stay in that room!"
Of course, I’m just touching the surface here. Avvio’s design specialists hold years of expertise in this area. To learn more about Avvio’s website design services, come meet us at HEDNA, or contact us at email@example.com.
2. You need your website to be intuitive
If a shopper has to pause for even a second to work out how to navigate your website, their first impression of your brand has already been tainted. It should be easy to search for available rates, dates, room type, packages and additional services. Likewise, converting from looker to booker should be seamless and presented as the next logical step to take. Shoppers should have no reason to click back and every reason to book.
At every stage of the booking journey, make it clear which dates and rates they are booking and accompany these details with an image of their chosen room, bold reminders that it’s best to book direct and confirmation that your site offers secure payment. With maximum assurance and minimum confusion, this seamless booking journey will reflect the experience the guest will have at your hotel: attentive, stress-free and beautiful.
The above two strategies should seem logical as soon as you start looking at your website through the eyes of a traveller. But to really drive direct bookings, you need to go a step further. You need to evoke emotion through personalisation. So, here's a third, bonus tip for you:
3. You need to introduce personalised messaging
If you want to make your guests’ experience of your website truly special - and of course you do - your website should greet them as warmly as your concierge. New Avvio technology allows you to do this. Avvio’s personalised booking engine remembers a returning website visitor and greets them with a personalised ‘welcome back’ message that highlights their previous search. This makes it quick and easy for the guest to find and book the room they were looking at before. Your booking engine will remember their rates, dates and even their name, depending on how far through the booking process they came before, creating a unique and personalised booking experience that coaxes a guest to care more about booking with your brand.
On Tuesday, I will go into more detail about this, and Charlie and I will let you in on even more ways you can drive direct bookings through playing to your shoppers’ emotions. After our interactive discussion at the HEDNA conference, you can expect to know how to create a truly exceptional booking experience that encourages long-term guest loyalty.
Don't miss Frank Reeves' Presentation
That’s not the only valuable lesson hospitality professionals will take away from the HEDNA Global Distribution Conference. On Wednesday 14 June, Avvio’s co-founder and CEO, Frank Reeves, will lead a ground-breaking presentation on the latest technologies to shake the travel industry. Frank will give his expert insights into how hoteliers can use VR, personalisation, chatbots and AI to drive direct bookings and effectively showcase their excellent personal service across all their digital channels.
More about HEDNA
With two full days of invaluable educational sessions and quality networking opportunities, the HEDNA (Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) Global Distribution Conference will be an iconic, inspiring event. Hosted at The Croke Park Hotel in the international tourist hub of Dublin and sponsored by Avvio, attendees can expect lively discussions and game-changing insight.
For tickets and the full agenda, visit the HEDNA website.
Not attending HEDNA?
To learn more about how Avvio can help improve your direct booking revenue and digital marketing strategies, get in touch.