As the travel industry continues to evolve and new sales channels become available to all property owners, it can be easy to lose sight of one of the most effective ways to build profitability for your bed and breakfast business: direct booking online.
While making use of a variety of sales channels, including Online Travel Agents (OTAs), maximises the exposure your small business can potentially achieve, the benefits of online direct bookings are hard to ignore. As well as being a more profitable channel, due to the absence of the commission costs that come with the OTAs, they also enable you to build a relationship with your customers from the get-go and increase the chances of turning them into loyal, repeat bookers.
As a BnB or motel owner, you might think it is too difficult to stand out from the big operators and grow your direct booking online, but there are some very simple steps you can take to improve your digital presence and attract customers to book direct.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to increase direct booking online is to have a booking engine integrated into your website. It goes without saying that a well-optimised website that works well on mobile devices is a pre-requisite for any business nowadays, regardless of size. Your online direct booking process needs to be simple and seamless, including quick and easy payment options.
There are heaps of ways you can increase your customer engagement but the most obvious one is to make sure you have great social media profiles, with up to date images of your bed and breakfast accommodation as well as the activities that are available in the area. As well as reaching a potentially huge audience, your social media presence also gives your BnB a personality and is a great opportunity to build customer trust, loyalty and potentially increase direct bookings online.
Make sure you create and fully optimise your Google My Business listing. This is also where you will gather those all-important Google reviews. From a local marketing perspective, your Google listing enables potential guests to instantly see your business contact details including getting directions to where you are located. You can even now add your check-in and check-out times to your GMB listing. and drive people directly to your website to encourage online direct booking.
Making use of free listing opportunities in online directories like Yelp, FourSquare, HotFrog or Yellow Pages not only gives you a better chance of being found online but also builds your website’s credibility in Google’s eyes too. Ensure all your business information is consistent in these listings including your business name, address and phone number. This, along with customer reviews, is a vital element of local search engine optimisation and increases your chances of being picked up to feature on Google’s map listings and guests making a direct booking online.
Part of the beauty of driving more direct bookings for your BnB or motel is your ability to develop a direct relationship with your customers. Going out of your way to make their experience memorable and enjoyable is one of the things that can set apart a small property business from larger operators. It also means you stand a far greater chance of converting them into a returning customer. Make sure you reward customer loyalty by offering return guests incentives and rewards.
The team at HiRUM have been helping bed and breakfast business owners increase direct booking online for over 20 years. As well as our market-leading booking engine, we can help you manage all aspects of your marketing, from your website design and social media presence to your Google listings. Give the team a call now on 07 5574 4990 for a free demonstration of our software.