There’s no more ubiquitous challenge in the hotel industry than trying to find ways of increasing direct bookings.
In Europe, Phocuswright, in conjunction with SiteMinder, reports around 75% of online bookings for independent hotels are made through an OTA or other third-party entity. A figure like this would be too high for the hotels liking, so strategies to salvage some of those bookings and turn them into direct reservations is important. To restore the balance of bookings between your hotel website and OTAs, you need to focus on the natural advantages your hotel has to drive more traffic to your hotel directly. Something that can be successfully used to cast a net over more potential guests is your hotel restaurant.
A study by Leonardo looked at what images travel shoppers viewed the most. Obviously the number one result was guest rooms but the second most viewed was restaurant photos.
This indicates that travel boils down to two primary needs; people want a nice place to sleep and they want a nice place to eat. Most of the time the hotel restaurant is a solid driver of revenue and an integral part of the hotel’s identity, so it’s ability to help market and sell your hotel should not be underestimated.
Here are some reasons your restaurant will drive more bookings and how you can aid the process:
Individualise your restaurant
The first thing you need to do is maximise the quality of your product by treating your hotel restaurant as a restaurant in its own right, rather than a glorified bar only accessible by guests.
Turn your restaurant into a premium dining experience that focuses on the whole package including the food, lighting, music, decor, and wine lists.
This way, your restaurant won’t only be the bait to bring new customers in, but also an incentive for current guests to return when they revisit the area.
At the same time it’s important to remember who your customers are and understand what they want and what they can afford. Create a menu that will sell, not one you think is cool and trendy, and make sure the pricing is in alignment with the rest of your hotel. Using local produce will help with this.
Give your restaurant its own website
Don’t let the physical setting of your restaurant deter you from creating a separate website for it. While it should also be featured on your hotel website, a dedicated restaurant website will help maximise revenue and potentially increase traffic to your hotel via page links.
The restaurant website should feature large, high-resolution images and videos to showcase the food and decor. Hopefully, if guests land here and see they can also stay in the hotel, they’ll be more convinced to stay and book direct.
By cross-referencing both lines of business you’ll improve your search engine optimisation and maximise the traffic and conversions you receive. You should make sure everything is optimised for mobile devices and you could also include a direct link to your hotel’s booking engine on your restaurant website.
By dedicating a separate website to your restaurant you’ll be catering to consumer’s need for relevant and distinctive content while also increasing your web presence. It’s definitely worth the time and effort, especially if you use a smart intuitive website builder.
Make offers or give discounts
Consider offering different restaurant deals for different parts of the week to further encourage people to book with your hotel.
Midweek you might advertise via social media or another medium giving away cheaper drinks or free desserts.
On the weekend you might include a discounted three-course meal with a booking.