We have quite a few accommodation provider businesses as clients and have done for years. Some use HiRUM as their Online Booking System and Channel Manager while others use LittleHotelier.

If you are seeking more online bookings for your accommodation rooms, BnB, holiday accommodation houses, resort villas, motel or hotel rooms here are 5 actionable items. If you are noticing a drop in online bookings, these actionable items will also be of benefit.

1. Review Your Website

Here are some initial questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do you love your website? Is it an accurate and up to date attractive reflection of your business and the accommodation you offer? Are you proud of your website? Are you excited by the idea of website visitors seeing it or does that thought make you cringe?
  2. When was your website created?
  3. When did you last check that your website is easy to use (and functions) well on your Tablet, Smart-mobile-phone and Mac computers… as well as all the major web browsers on Windows 10 computers (Firefox, Google Chrome, IE11, Edge, Opera and the up-coming Vivaldi. All the best current web browsers are listed here.
  4. When did you last make sure it was really easy and intuitive to book a room via your website?
  5. When did you last have your website audited by a professional website design conversion rate optimisation specialist (CRO)?

Your answers to these questions will help you decide if your site needs to be fully reviewed and then majorly updated. If your website is not a great website that is professional in appearance and works correctly, you will be missing out on accommodation booking sales. These past and future sales will instead be going to your competitors… until the right action is taken… and I know that is why you are here.

Consider getting attractive landing pages created for each of your main accommodation types. A landing page is a strategic long-form page that purely focused on the features and benefits of a product or service. They also contain an offer that you have to opt-into via a website form to claim. As an example, here is one of our landing pages.

Make sure your website also has a ‘hot deals’ section.

2. Ensure Your Website Visitors Can Become Leads

There are many ways to enhance your website, drive more traffic to it and also make the website a lead generation online sales funnel… using social media advertising effectively to advertise offers on your landing pages to gain more first-time customers and dramatically increase your percentage of repeat customers.

Did you know that over 60% of first-time website visitors will not enquiry or buy from you? They are researching the best deal they can find. Ask yourself, “Are your deals awesome? Are they the best out there at any given time”? And, “Do you have a lead generation system built into your website that has a great offer (called a lead magnet —  lead magnet ideas are here)?” Without at least one, your site visitors may leave your site and never come back — which means you have no way of emailing them after they leave… UNLESS you incentivised them to get the free lead-magnet offer before they left… PERMITTING they give you their email address… while they are still on your website. This is a tried and true strategy. You yourself have probably opted into something on at least one website in the past.

Side note: have you included additional purchasing options and offers on your website? One such example is eGift Cards. I wrote about them in this blog article and include 3 options, including a comparatively cheap way of setting this up initially. It’s well worth a read after reading this blog article.

3. A Marketing Investigation – Including a Competitor Investigation

If you are not getting enough online accommodation booking sales, get your website expert to check the Google Analytics account that they should have setup on your website when they first launched it. You need them to check:

  • If there is a decrease in website traffic from previous months and previous years. If this is the case, don’t fret. This article will help you determine what to do.
  • Look to see where the website traffic is coming from. If the majority of your traffic starts coming from places (countries) that are not where your ideal buyers live or reside, this too is a problem.
  • How quickly website visitors are leaving your site. If they are not staying long, that is a huge sign there are big problems with your website.

If you only have a low traffic website (less than 300 unique website visitors per month), you are going to feel it BADLY if your traffic begins to decrease because your competitors are ramping up their traffic driving strategies against you.

A business should be aiming for upward of 1,000 website visitors per month (at the very least). To make it worthwhile an accommodation website should be aiming for upward or 10,000…. and then be aiming for even more! Never stop aiming for more and more traffic.  As you know, bookings and sales are directly proportionate to quality (qualified*) website visitor numbers.

*Tip: Qualified website visitors are people who potentially want what you are selling.

If website traffic has gone down, or you have never experienced high traffic volumes, you need to see if you have lost top positions for target keyword phrases, that you or your SEO (and Google Adwords) specialist(s) are targeting. If your website, your accommodation properties (and types), your website resources (like the ‘things to do in your area’ directory that I assume you have setup on your website) and website posts (articles) are no longer easily and quickly findable when people do a Google search, then you’ve got troubles.  If one of your competitors has ramped up the SEO and or Google Adwords efforts, they might have started out-ranking you. By doing that, they are pushing your rankings down in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) where not many people look.

You’ll also be outplayed if your competitors ramp up their Facebook Ads and their online lead generation/ online sales funnels campaign combos… which more and more businesses are doing RIGHT NOW… because they have learned just HOW powerful they are when done correctly!

Ask your SEO and Adwords specialists to send you a rank-report ASAP to check what is happening. If you don’t have anyone doing rank-reports for you, invest in getting a MOZ account setup or contact someone like us and commission us to set it up for you.

Also go to your competitor’s websites and look to see what new features they have added. Also, look to see if they have recently got their ENTIRE website re-designed/re-created. Also start watching closely to see what they are doing on social media. Look out too for any ads they are running on social media. Screenshot them on your phone, read them, read the offers, click the links they link to and then opt-in to them using an obscure email address you have previously created for such activities (one that is not your name or your business name).
The give the screenshots of these ads to your digital marketing team. They’ll then consult on how to fight back.

I only use the words ‘fight back’ because I have lived a life of sport and athleticism… especially in my younger years before tearing my shoulder and knee. I still play some sport but not the way I used to. I digress. I just mention this because, to me, business and marketing is very much like playing sport. Play fair, but play hard. Play to win, but play to be a good sport… and set a good example…. and level legacy… but also to hold-your-own.

Anyway, back on topic… these 2 blog articles are also worth reading:

You’ll need to commission digital marketing experts to do a full marketing, digital marketing, digital advertising and social media Investigation. Part of this involves them doing a Competitor Analysis investigation as well. If you don’t get this done, you’re going to be left in the dark not knowing what is going on… unless you are an SEO and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) expert and you know how to use MOZ, SEM Rush and other tools that allow us to investigate your competitors marketing, google and social media marketing in ways you are unable to.

4. Learn from a Digital Marketing Expert how People do their Searches

Learn the various ways that people use their mobile phone to do Google and Bing searches. An expert team like Green Valley Digital can take you through this and show you opportunities you may be missing out on. They can then advise on solutions.

Have your Digital Marketer contact your Online Booking System provider. Ask your digital marketer to find out from your online booking system providers the following questions… and get answers that are backed up with proof:

  1. Are there any problems on their end with the online booking system?
  2. Are there any issues with the Channel Manager?
  3. Are 3rd party online booking systems playing nice atm (eg. Traivago, Lastminute.com, bookings.com and all the rest of them)? Are they playing favorites and/or are there any algorithm updates we need to be aware of?

5. Check that your Accommodation Listings are Appearing in Google’s ‘Places to Stay’ System

Ask a variety of people to do a Google search on their smart-phones and laptop (or desktop computers) to see if your accommodation listings appear in the Google ‘Places to Stay’ section of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). If they don’t, start asking more of your customers to start writing reviews on your Google My Business page. Make sure your Google My Business and all the other online business directories you use (eg. TripAdvisor, TrueLocal and Yelp to name just a few) are up to date and have MANY good reviews on them. Same too for your Facebook Business Page.

6. Use the Power of Social Media Influencers – they already have an audience… YOU just need them to promote your accommodation

Have you considered inviting travel bloggers and travel media (the best of them) to come and stay at your accommodation? If you have not used this strategy, I recommend it.  Channel 7’s Sofie Formica (a well-known TV personality in parts of Australia) was invited to one of my client’s businesses in recent years. It gave their business some good additional exposure.

Another one of our clients had Channel 9 come to town and broadcast their Today Show. Info about this is here.

I’m sure you understand the marketing power and market reach that social media influencers have. If not, or you just want to read more about it, there is an article here.

Here are a few ways to find social media influencers:

  • Speak with your local tourism groups and see who they know and whom they can arrange to come visit.
  • You can also do your own research on YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Google, etc to find travel vloggers, bloggers and social media influencers.
  • You can also commission digital agencies to find them too… and help reach out to them in ways that will pique their interest, to consider coming to stay…. and writing (vlogging and hashtagging) about their experience at your venue and your region.

Did you know? Everyone who has been using social media actively for several years is an ‘influencer’. They may only have 700 or so (maybe less or maybe LOTS more) Facebook friends vs 30,000 (or more) Instagram followers, or 50,000+ Twitter followers or 1 million or more YouTube subscribers or over 1.5 million blog-site visitors per year, but chances are a reasonable percentage of their friends will see posts about your business if they decide to share something about it on their social media profiles. It is also likely they have friends traveling atm who might see their post, and decide to come stay at your accommodation at some point.

That is why when I coach my clients I ask them, “What do you put in the room for your guests to be surprised and excited about, and potentially take a photo (and/or video) of… which they’ll probably put on facebook or Instagram?”. Some of the surprise items I have suggested to clients in the past include:

  • Gift boxes on their bed. If I walked into a room with an amazing surprise gift box, I’d be impressed!
  • A two person restaurant meal voucher in amongst that gift box, I’d be additionally impressed… and quite chuffed (extra-happy)!
  • A discount booklet in the room. You could tee this up with other businesses in your region. As you know, average family budgets are becoming tighter and tighter… I am sure a family on holiday would spend more and visit more businesses in your region if they were given a discount booklet.

Chances are, either I or the person I am with would photograph these things and put them on Facebook or Instagram and @tag the accommodation business or geo-tag the location… and probably throw in at least a few hashtags for good measure. That’d be some good exposure for your business.

7. Bonus: A Seventh Actionable Activity

Talk with your digital marketing team to find out what other advanced booking campaign promotions, deals, special offers and seasonal marketing campaigns, Black Friday Sales and Cyber Monday sales can be done too.

If your current digital marketing team are not ‘experiential marketers’ and highly creative outside the box thinkers (and doers), I do recommend looking for a new team. The internet has been around for a long while now, your potential customers have become very digitally savvy and discerning consumer. They are also fully ‘connected’ and extremely used to being marketed to… and are bored with average marketing attempts. You have to get creative! You have to stand out! You NEED and have to create experiences, offers, website(s), landing page, online ads, etc that will WOW, impress and excite them!

Please be aware that to achieve 1,000 or more qualified website visitors per month is going to take some serious ongoing effort by you and your digital marketing team. It is not instant and if you ever stop trying to gain more and more visitors, BECAUSE the internet is soo competitive, your efforts will start going backward (declining) as soon as you stop. It is not a set and forget activity. Read this blog article if you want to know how long it will take to achieve 20,000 site visitors per month.
I, for example, am writing this blog article on a Saturday evening. I am writing it because I know the information is of use to others (you). I also know that I have very little time during the week to write blog posts for my own site, because I am working for my clients all week and also monitoring my teams work (and working with them), plus mentoring our junior team and students. I also know this blog article will probably be clicked into by people doing related Google searches approximately 2,000 times (at the very least) in the next 5 years.

The time and effort it has taken to write this on a Saturday night is and will be well worth it.

I’m not saying this to brag, I am only saying it because I often hear people asking, “Is blogging worth doing?”. The answer is, “It most certainly is”. It’s a key part of traffic driving and building authority which can lead to writing books, collaborating on books, writing for magazines, being asked to speak at events and many other opportunities, introductions, new relationships and clients (or accommodation guests). If you’re not yet familiar with Inbound Marketing, the power of inbound marketing, SEO, longtail keyword phrase targeting, please let me know in the comments and I’ll add some links (resources) at the end of this blog article.

Another tip for your website, landing pages, social media advertising, etc: Make sure you also offer early bird holiday (peak) booking offers and amazing off-peak offers too.

Start researching Google for search phrases like “ways to get more online accommodation bookings” and begin reading additional articles that contain additional recommendations to further increase online accommodation booking sales. One such article is here.

If you offer executive accommodation, villas and other specialty type accommodation, keep exploring where your markets spend their time online. Two of these are LinkedIn and YouTube.

If you’re not using LinkedIn and Instagram to create awareness and promote special offers, I recommend starting to do so. If you want the best results from using LinkedIn, do a LinkedIn sales course. Don’t just rely on Facebook. Also, start investigating how to advertise on YouTube effectively and also how to start using YouTube to aid your marketing efforts.

I have 2 eBooks coming out shortly:

  • Holistic Marketing Approach for Success in 2019
  • Local SEO – a How-to Check List

To receive a free copy when they are released, send an email to enquiries@greenvalleydigital.com.au