The next episode in our podcast is about what happens when your guests make the decision to stay with you. The guest has done their planning, they’ve found your website, and they’ve seen your facilities and price. The next step of the booking process is the most important, because makes them think seriously about booking. They like your price and your pictures, but they need something to tip them over the edge. That’s why it’s so important to learn the difference between your website’s method for getting that booking and what the OTA is doing to make customers commit.
First steps in the booking process
First of all, you need to make sure your availability is matching up to the customer’s needs. If your property has what your guest wants, but it’s not showing up in the booking engine, then you’re going to confuse the guest and they will go somewhere else. Make sure the property management system is synced up.
Next, make sure you’re not over-pricing or under-pricing yourself. Do some research and make sure you match up with that.
Thirdly, make sure you’re responding to your reviews. If there has been a complaint, guests want you to respond and let them know the problem is being sorted. If a guest has praised you, it’s equally important to engage them and keep building that relationship!
Finally, the OTAs like to capitalise on the guest’s fear of loss. As soon as they get their search results, the OTA’s website will say something like, “this is a popular room” or “there’s just one room left”. Make sure you also use this trick! Show your reviews on your website and build up your social proof. Display something like, “We get booked up quickly, so make sure you book now.” If you use the copy and the availability well, then you will get a guest to go from a decider to a booker. They will have that incentive to book.
Finally, invest in pop-ups. A pop-up can alert your customer that if they book with you, they will get the best rate or an extra incentive. The OTAs do this, so you should try it, too. Yes, pop-ups are annoying, but they work! Have a smart pop-up which appears at a strategic point, such as right when your guest is about to leave the website. This will increase the chance of a guest staying on your site AND booking directly with you. Sumo is a great tool that provides free pop-ups.
Start thinking outside of the box about incentives like early check-in, a free drink, and other rewards for direct bookers. Tip those potential customers over the edge!