How to Increase Online Hotel Booking

Written by Danielle Collard

Reservation Image

There’s nothing more frustrating to hoteliers than spare rooms. The beds are made, the towels are clean, the surfaces shine, but there are no guests to use them. 

With most bookings being made over the internet, any hoteliers dealing with spare rooms are left to wonder how they can boost their online hotel reservation figures.

Online travel agencies

Online travel agencies, or OTAs for short, are websites that list hotels in an area for comparison and allow users to make reservations. The majority of hotels use them but if your hotel doesn’t then the many customers that only book through OTAs will never have a chance to consider your business.

Depending on the number of rooms you can sell through them, OTAs will take between 10 and 30 percent on the bookings made through their websites. However, while that may seem high, there are many other considerations that may make it look like a better deal.

First of all, there is what the industry calls the Billboard Effect. Many of the guests that see your hotel on an OTA will then go onto your website to make a direct hotel booking. This method of booking does not give commission to the OTA, but the advertising of the OTA will be what gained you this customer and filled that vacant room.

Secondly, OTAs translate adverts into many different languages and are used worldwide. Advertising your hotel on an OTA provides greater access to markets all over the world, with the expense of translation out of the way.

With an OTA doing the legwork and opening up markets for you, you’re given more time to focus on improving your in-house experience. With more rooms filled and less work to do in bookings management, you can work to ensure that those guests that first come through an OTA will rebook, and do so directly with the contact you’ve now made. You may pay commission the first time (or perhaps not, given the Billboard Effect), but if all goes well, you’ll have a new loyal customer that calls your front desk or uses your website for future bookings.

Optimising your online presence

In order to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible, both through OTAs and generic searches for hotels in your area, working to ensure you have a search-optimised, beautiful, and fast website will help fill your vacant rooms.

The average hotel website has a conversion rate of below 2%. Fewer than one in fifty visits will result in a booking despite so many hotels working hard to optimise their websites and market themselves as best they can. Roughly one-third of aborted hotel bookings is due to slow loading speed, especially on mobile phones which are responsible for an increasing number of bookings[1].

To combat this, testing your website on mobile devices, and ensuring that the booking process is as short as possible should see that 2% rise and your rooms start to fill up a little more.

A key part of your online presence is SEO based, and following good SEO practices can help build traffic. Setting yourself up on Google Business is a good first step. Google Business allows your hotel to appear on Google Maps with your address, contact information, and Google Review score visible online.

SEO practices, website translations, loyalty programs, and email campaigns can all help when it comes to building a successful marketing campaign. The more you do and the louder you are will all make a huge difference in making that initial contact with new guests, and keeping you in the running for those in line for a return stay.

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Social media

Many hotels accept bookings through social media platforms like Facebook. So accepting bookings over other platforms like Facebook, and posting on social media to draw attention to your page is a worthy investment of time. This might provide you with a book online pay at hotel form of transaction if desired.

Advertising your Facebook page in-house and engaging your social media followers could help build a customer base since social media can be so useful for keeping links with guests, especially during quiet seasons. Once a guest knows your hotel, seeing entertaining or funny updates about events on-site will help maintain your ties to that person and will make your hotel the first one they plan on returning to the area.

Many businesses with active social media accounts post about or through their team. Having your team involved in this process and visible online is a great way of showing their value and boosting their morale. Your staff provide as much personality to your hotel as the building itself, so a happy, comfortable and welcoming team can bring guests to the business even before booking. Staff can be as much a part of your advertising as images of your hotel.

Cancellation policy and wholesales

Your website can tell you why people abandon their bookings. To help push more transactions to completion, act on this information and adjust either the deals you offer potential guests as well as the booking process itself if necessary.

Often, it may be the price that puts people off. Sometimes it may be information someone doesn’t want to provide. Can you shorten and simplify the booking process by cutting any requested data out? Can you offer your guests different deals that may help them find better value? Some customers might also be struggling to find information about your hotel from the website. Is there an easy way of making contact for those with questions during the booking process? Is there a way you can make booking less complicated?

Gathering valuable data like this and using it to help guide the design of your business is a process you can reapply. For instance, any information you can gather from customers making cancellations is valuable and any conversation that takes place could help you retain that guest for a future booking. Guiding your cancellation policy based on this can be extremely valuable.

If your hotel continues to struggle with vacant rooms, it may be time to begin considering partnerships with larger groups and businesses. Wholesalers, also known as bed banks, are often looking to make bulk purchases of vacant rooms, though they do so at heavily discounted rates. Large businesses may also look to make partnerships with hotels in exchange for better rates. 

A hotel management booking system

Nothing can give your hotel a boost quite like an all-in-one hotel booking management system to centralise your business processes. Thanks to Epos Now’s partnerships with property management software programs like Caterbook and fantastic booking systems like Appointedd.

Epos Now’s world-class EPOS provides hotels with the opportunity to benefit from:

  • An EPOS ready to use in a hotel bar, restaurant, shop, or lobby with flexible software prepared for each one’s needs
  • App integrations that can connect your EPOS to a website, or one of the booking apps designed to work with your system
  • Multi-site management capabilities so your system can expand as your hotel empire grows
  • Countless modifiable and downloadable reports to keep you fully informed of every aspect of the hotel
  • 24/7 support to keep you covered and advised on how to get the most out of your EPOS

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