How to Drive Direct Bookings – In 3 Simple Steps
The Marketing Strategy Most Hoteliers Don’t Know About
Ever asked yourself if there’s a way to make every dollar you spend on marketing go directly towards increasing direct bookings?
Well, the short answer – there is a way. The longer answer – there is a way, and each hotelier can take advantage of it immediately.
The strategy that I’m talking about is called Full Funnel Marketing, and if you execute it properly, you will be in a position where you only spend marketing budget on a profitable objective. For instance, if your goal is to drive direct bookings via the hotel’s website, your entire marketing budget will support that cause, even when some of your actual campaigns are brand focused.
So what are the fundamentals of the Full Funnel Marketing strategy?
Multi-micro-moments: Customers communicate with hotel brands multiple times before booking online. These micro-moments are the touchpoints between the customer and your brand, which compound the full journey of the customer towards booking online.
Funnel steps: Each touchpoint is represented by a specific step of the process towards booking.
Tailored messaging: Marketing communication at each step of the funnel is designed specifically for that step.
Single objective: The entire funnel works together towards a single marketing objective.
Multi-micro-moments across the customer’s journey to online booking
Research shows that the average period of time between when the customer begins to consider booking their travel until they actually book it is between an average of 40-60 days. In this period of 6-9 weeks, the customer will experience the following micro-moments with your hotel brand:
- Become familiar with your hotel for the first time
- Compare prices with competitor hotels, and with different booking websites
- Read reviews from your previous guests
- Check for discounts online
- Search your hotel name on Google
- Visit your Facebook fan page
- Explore photos your guests posted on Instagram
During this journey, your potential guests will be using mobile as well as desktop devices to communicate with your hotel brand.
Each micro-moment can bring your prospect closer to booking directly through your hotel’s website, or make them turn away and book elsewhere. Your goal as a hotelier is to map these moments and make sure that the experience of the prospect with your brand will motivate them to come closer (get deeper down the funnel) until they book direct.
The Full Funnel Steps
Top of the funnel – Customer journey days 1-15
Top of the funnel micro-moments represent the initial touchpoints that prospects have with your hotel brand. It can be the first time they visit your hotel website, or the first time they engage with a post from you on social media.
During these micro-moments, the potential guest is at the beginning of their journey towards booking. At this time, the prospect is ready and interested in considering many options – where to travel, when to travel, how much to money to spend, etc.
In order to pursue the prospect that your brand can be the right one, you have to make sure that the communication at this stage will demonstrate your legitimacy as an accommodation service provider in a variety of parameters. Each hotel brand can have different parameters depending on its brand values and its target market segment. For example, if your hotel is focused on the leisure travelers segment and less on business travelers, you will have to modify your communication accordingly – in terms of messaging, design, content, and call-to-action.
Middle of the funnel – Customer journey days 16-40
Middle of the funnel micro-moments occur when the prospect has decided on where and when to travel and is ready to find the best solution regarding value for their money. During that time, the prospect’s touchpoints with your hotel brand can be as follow:
- Visited your hotel after comparing prices on a metasearch website (such as Trivago, Kayak, etc.)
- Searched your hotel’s name on Google after viewing offers on an online travel agency (OTA) website
- Read previous guest reviews on Tripadvisor
- Searched for photos of your hotel on Facebook
- Viewed geo-location tagged photos of your guests on Instagram
- Visited your hotel’s website to check available amenities
The goal at this step of the funnel is to convince the prospect that booking direct is the best option. All your communications with middle-of-the-funnel prospects should present the benefits of booking direct. The prospect has to acknowledge the supreme value of booking directly on your website, instead of through an OTA website.
Speaking of convincing the prospect that direct is best, this is exactly the solution that BookingDirection provides to its partners.
Our smart widget will help you catch your visitors when they visit your site and present the right message at the right time to convince them that booking direct provides the best value for their money.
Our partners’ data shows up to 41% improvement in conversion.
Enough about us 🙂 But you really should see this technology in action.
Bottom of the funnel – Customer journey days 41-60
Bottom of the funnel micro-moments happen during the final stages of the customer’s journey to booking. At this stage, the prospect has made up their mind about the travel details, and they are almost certain about the booking website as well.
At this step, the prospect will visit the booking site to see if the online booking process is safe and convenient. Safety means a secure and legitimate website. Convenience is about the booking flow, mobile compatibility, and general user experience while booking. The prospect may check the online booking flow several times before submitting credit card details, especially on first-time bookings. It is important for hotels to invest in a booking technology that can provide an optimized online booking experience.
However, as the modern customer becomes smarter, your prospects may still search for last minute deals on 3rd party booking website. Therefore, hoteliers have to make sure that the value for money on their website is superior to 3rd party sites at all times. It also means that prospects who intend to book an on OTA, but make one last visit to a hotel website for some final impressions and details – will still be open to better deals. This touchpoint is also a great opportunity to convert an OTA booking to a direct booking.
If you are looking for an effective marketing strategy to grow your hotel’s direct bookings, you have to think in terms of micro-moments along the customer’s journey towards booking.
Each micro-moment represents a touchpoint between the prospective guest and your hotel brand.
As a hotelier, you have to map these touchpoints across a full marketing funnel and place them by top-of-the-funnel moments, middle-of-the-funnel moments, and bottom-of-the-funnel moments.
The marketing communication with the prospect at each step of the funnel is aimed to push the prospect deeper through to the funnel.
Funnel steps usually match the customer’s journey towards booking and can be put in time frames. Top-of-the-funnel represents the beginning of the journey, the first 14 days. Middle-of-the-funnel represents the time (16-40 days) when the customer when they decide on their specific travel destination, the specific dates, and on a defined budget. Bottom-of-the-funnel represents the stage of the customer journey (41-60 days) when they are actively looking for an online service to purchase the deal with the best value for their money.
If your hotel has a website, BookingDirection’s widget will help it increase conversion rates by up to 41%!
BookingDirection is easily implemented and can be live on your website in hours.
Want to see how exactly it will boost your direct bookings? Request your demo now!