Want to sell hotel rooms on your website?
4 tips on how to finally make it work.
You’d love guests book their room directly with you, no question about it. But selling hotel rooms on your website is like selling any other product – the better the packaging and presentation, the better your sales.
Photo courtesy @mercantile/Unsplash
When was the last time you visited your favorite store?
Ahhhh, and why do you like it so much there? Most likely because you enjoy shopping there. Attractive layout, a nice atmosphere, and shopping is smooth and pleasant. The shopping experience feels just right.
Now go to a hotel website to reserve a room. You see a nice photo, a list of the furnishings and design features and that’s it.
Well, you now have all the information, from the number of square meters in your room to the adjustable shower head, but does that really convince you to make a reservation?
Shouldn’t hotels also entice with a shopping experience that guests enjoy? … and sell more hotel rooms?
Making your online hotel shop attractive and inviting is actually relatively easy if you pay attention to four key points:
1. Your guest wants to be motivated to book.
Give him a good reason.
Do you buy shoes because of their patented foot bed or great insole? No, you buy shoes because they are comfortable, beautiful, and great to walk in.
The same goes for hotel rooms. Your guests are not looking for a property or interior design, but are on the lookout for a successful hotel experience.
Don’t get me wrong. If you have splendid rooms, by all means, show them off with pride.
But if guests meet you in the hotel lobby and ask you which room you would recommend, would you talk to them about details like mattress sizes and the texture of the carpet? Probably not…
You would likely ask them a few questions first: What they have in mind, what their preferences are, and depending on they answer, you will then suggest a specific room.
If everything goes well, you accompany your guests to the reception, where they happily receive the keys to “their” room.
Selling hotel rooms has to do with the requirements and needs of your guests. The focus should not be on the product details, but on the benefits and convenience of your visitors.
2. Stand out from the competition.
Offer a pleasant shopping experience:
What you say and how you say it makes all the difference. Here are a few fine examples of hotels that attract and connect with website visitors “Your 35 square meter room has so much space that you can dance in the comfort of your own”. One sentence and the “Madison” in Hamburg not only informs but also triggers a positive feeling when reading … You can already see the exhilarating stay at the Madison in front of you …
Or check out the Dylan Amsterdam. It not only introduces its managers on the website but also lets them speak to the visitor in a very authentic and personal manner. Very personable and trust-building. You have the feeling that you know the team members personally and that is important because … we prefer to buy from people we like …
3. With a small selection, you sell MORE.
Image courtesy Aleks Marinkovic / Unsplash
Visit any number of hotel websites and you will find up to 15 different room types and 4 different seasons; in the small print taxes that have to be added, special discounts that apply if (… please insert the appropriate condition here …), conditions, clauses and guidelines – the information is scattered everywhere and after a long scrutinizing look, you just want to leave.
Sure, revenue management enables you to optimize your inventory and maximize your sales.
That is, as long as it doesn’t get too confusing and complicated for potential guests…
Because if it becomes confusing, your guests will not waste time or energy trying to make sense of what you have to offer.
Too large a supply can even have a negative impact on sales. In his book “The Paradox of Choice”, published in 2004, the American psychologist Barry Schwartz shows what happens when we have too many choices.
Imagine you need a new printer. You go online, visit Amazon, click “Inkjet Printer” and you get 1,894 results. Perfect – loads of choice and all you have to do is decide. But how many printers do you have to look at to find the right one, and how do you know your choice is really the best? Doubts become noticeable, you hesitate and become more and more indecisive …
It is similar to the supermarket. Have you ever stood in front of a selection of 24 delicious jams and tried to make a decision? Sheena Iyengar, author of The Art of Choice, asked her test group exactly that. Their experiment was about determining how choice affects purchasing decisions.
And the result was obvious: with a selection of 24 jams, only 3% of the test group purchased. In the comparison group, which only had a choice of 6 jams, a subsequent sale of 30% (!) was recorded.
A great hotel shopping experience is inviting, relaxed and runs smoothly. Ideally, there is a “best room” and a selection below and above this price category. Availability and costs are presented in a clear and uncomplicated manner.
Guests are not forced to think twice; they can find all the information they need with two or three clicks. Believe me, the more complex it gets, the faster your guest will abort the booking process, and once he’s gone, you will probably this direct booking forever …
4. Make making a reservation easy,
convenient and intuitive for your guest.
Whichever reservation system you use – it has to be tailored to your guests. The ease of use of your system makes all the difference. Because no matter how much valuable information the system gives you in the background or how easy it makes YOUR life – if it is too difficult for your guest, he will cancel the reservation process and you have probably lost it …
Here are a few marvellous examples of how you can do it:
The Kimpton Chicago made “sell hotel rooms on your website” really entertaining. Booking is easy and fun, too! Using the modular principle, they present (completely unobtrusively) additional offers to you, and depending on how you decide, they will present you with the next idea. Cleverly done, as you decide for yourself what extras you want to book. The accompanying texts and tempting photos make the whole thing entertaining and amusing. “How about a dozen strawberries dipped in chocolate?”
The booking page layout is stylish, easy to use, and just feels perfect.
Here’s a completely different approach:
Motel One, London Towerhill, presents you with all information at a glance and makes it super easy for guests. You can see all important details on the homepage. From price to guest reviews, from departure time to contact information – everything is there at a glance. No searching, no clicking – all information is at hand and helps the guest to make a quick decision.
Or look at the Virgin Hotel Chicago that turned its hotel rewards into something really special. This loyalty program is worthwhile to join.
“Get in the Know” invites members to speak for themselves and let them have a say what gestures and gifts would make them happy. The hotel asks you to fill out a questionnaire. And while you are having fun answering the hilarious and witty questions, the Virgin Hotel Chicago gathers tons of details about your interests and preferences …
The hotel now knows “everything” about you – from your preferred mini-bar content to your favorite artist. Valuable information that will help the hotel pamper you personally during your stay.
It doesn’t take much to make your online shop more attractive, but don’t wait too long or you will lose valuable direct bookings!