Maximizing Direct Bookings: The Impact of Enhanced Online Visibility for Hotels
July 28, 2023
The travel and tourism industry continues to be highly competitive, with people eager to travel again and hotels and chains vying for business against online travel agencies, vacation rentals, and booking sites. After the pandemic in 2021, Google searches for hotels increased by 92%. According to statistics, more than 90% of travelers will do research online, and 82% will complete their booking online.
The hospitality industry has been consistently investing in its online presence, and key players are banking on the success of their digital offerings. While sites like Booking.com and TripAdvisor get millions of monthly visits, Phocuswright reports that 72% of travelers prefer to book their accommodations directly on a hotel’s website. That being said, OTAs have taken back some of the market, going from 49% during the pandemic to 52%. Although that jump may seem small, a single percentage point increase in online gross bookings can translate into a significant impact, representing a value of up to $1 billion in business revenue and a commission exchange ranging from $100 million to $200 million between hotel companies and online travel agencies (OTAs).
By establishing a strong online presence across various platforms such as search engines, social media, and review websites, hotels can capture the attention of their target audience and stand out from the competition. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a great way to increase website traffic and build awareness while also increasing direct bookings. Here are some statistics that highlight the importance of hotel website marketing and search engine marketing in driving direct bookings and generating more revenue:
Search Engine Marketing (SEM):
- A study by Google reveals that 65% of leisure travelers and 69% of business travelers begin their hotel search on a search engine.
- SEM efforts, such as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, can increase a hotel’s visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs) and drive targeted traffic to their website.
- According to WordStream, travel businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on Google Ads.
- According to HubSpot research, 50% of searches include four or more words.
- A report by eMarketer indicates that 51.8% of travelers worldwide book accommodations via mobile devices.
- Hotels with mobile-optimized websites and seamless mobile booking experiences are more likely to capture bookings from on-the-go travelers.
- 70% of all customers do their research on a smartphone
- Of the 148 million online travel bookings in 2018, 82% occurred without any human interaction via a mobile app or website.
- A study by TripAdvisor found that 93% of travelers consider online reviews when choosing a hotel.
- Hotels with a higher average review score tend to attract more bookings and command higher room rates.
- 63% of travelers are influenced by reading the reviews, while 76% are swayed by photos posted with the reviews.
- In May 2022, Tripadvisor received around 167 million visits.
Social Media Marketing:
- In the United States, 21% of adults 18 to 29 use social media for inspiration before they decide to go for an online travel booking. Those over 45 follow at 14%, and 30 to 44-year-olds at 9%.
- Social media platforms allow hotels to engage with potential guests and drive bookings. According to a study by Expedia, 84% of travelers use social media while on vacation.
- Hotels that effectively leverage social media marketing can increase brand visibility, engagement, and direct bookings.
- Facebook and Instagram remain the most popular platforms for travel planning, followed by TikTok and Snapchat.
Personalization and Retargeting:
- Personalized marketing efforts can significantly impact a hotel’s revenue. Research by Evergage reveals that 98% of marketers believe personalization enhances guest relationships.
- Retargeting campaigns that display ads to users who have previously visited a hotel’s website can yield a higher conversion rate. AdRoll reports that retargeting can result in a 147% increase in conversion rates, according to AdRoll.
- About 91% of consumers are more willing to consume products from brands that provide relevant offers and recommendations.
- Approximately 90% of consumers are willing to share data if it allows them to have a cheaper and easier brand experience.
- The travel and hospitality sector reports the highest shift toward tailored messaging in a survey conducted by SmarterHQ, Cheetah Digital, Liveclicker, and MailCharts. About 63% of their communications catered to individual customers.
Voice Search & ChatGPT:
- In the hospitality industry, voice search is undergoing a transformative process, especially in the booking procedures.
- Prominent digital assistant technologies such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana are rapidly gaining popularity.
- The rise of ChatGPT and AI has sparked many questions about the future of e-commerce SEO.
- Statista reports over 33% of consumers like to use virtual travel assistants during their online travel booking process.
- Consumers are reacting well to chatbots, with 6.5% of conversion rates related to this new technology.
- By implementing voice search and AI capabilities on your website, hotels can enhance conversions by effectively connecting with qualified leads.
Search engine optimization plays a pivotal role in improving a hotel’s visibility and attracting organic traffic. Effective SEO strategies help hotels rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) when potential guests search for accommodation options. SEO not only improves a hotel’s visibility but also allows them to establish a direct relationship with guests, enabling personalized communication and upselling.
For those guests who make their way to a hotel website but don’t convert, reservation recovery technology can turn abandoned visits into revenue opportunities. The technology is designed to capture guest data and automatically sends personalized, high-converting recovery emails, SMS, and push notifications to inspire them to complete the reservation.
Investing in enhanced online visibility and effective SEO strategies in conjunction with booking abandonment technology can lead to increased brand exposure, direct bookings, and improved guest satisfaction. By building trust and credibility and leveraging data-driven personalized digital experiences, hotels can leverage the power of the internet to drive revenue growth and achieve long-term relationships with guests that keep them coming back.
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