No matter whether your accommodation is a 5-star hotel, a bed and breakfast or a holiday home for lease, if you’re not online, you’re simply missing bookings. That’s because just about everyone who travels for work or pleasure is online.
In an age where consumers are used to instant gratification and the ability to make decisions while on the go, it’s instrumental to any business to be as discoverable as possible.
And it’s just as important to be online as it is to have the ability to take bookings directly from you’re website. The last thing you want is for a potential guest to click away because the process of making a booking is too difficult.
Selling rooms in today’s increasingly competitive market means your inventory – no matter whether it’s a 300-room hotel, a two-bedroom B&B or a sole-use holiday rental house – must be available to book online 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
But don’t panic if you’re a small player in the accommodation industry with perhaps a holiday house to rent and you don’t have an online booking system because you’re not alone.
Very few properties on some holiday rental websites have their own online booking system in place, with property owners assuming that if their holiday house is listed with an OTA (Online Travel Agent), then their beds will always be occupied.
But with competition for the traveller’s dollar hotter than ever, a more pro-active approach to securing business for your property is the key to success. Here are five key reasons why an online booking system is vital on the website of any accommodation provider, big or small:
1. Round the Clock Bookings
Potential guests don’t only want to reserve a stay during business hours. In fact, they are far more likely to surf your site and think about a weekend away or a holiday while they are at home at night so by having a ‘book it now’ button on your website, anyone can book a stay with you any time of the day or night.
2. User Friendly
Enabling a customer to book a stay with you online through a user-friendly system is something consumers have come to expect.
Time-poor people today don’t want the hassle of phoning properties and leaving messages.
Online bookings are fast, easy and secure – for you and your customer. If you don’t offer a booking button on your website, customers will jump to another property’s site that does.
3. Saves You Money
Offering online bookings 24/7 is like employing a night-shift reservations clerk but without the cost of paying for an after-hours employee, saving you money.
4. Save You Time
Instead of processing bookings manually, an automated, online booking system will do all the hard work for you, with the system generating automatic booking confirmations, updating your availability and procuring guest information – without you having to do anything.
And because you don’t have to spend time during the day taking bookings on the phone, you can spend more time on all the things you wished you had more time to do in your business.
5. No Commissions
Selling your rooms or holiday rentals direct to your customers on your own website means you don’t have to pay booking commissions to OTAs, again saving you money.
Turning Lookers into Bookers
The whole idea, of course, is to convert traffic to your website – your most valuable sales channel of all – into confirmed bookings so it’s important your website’s bookings page looks appealing and easy to use.
And it’s a good idea for your booking engine to also be able to package rooms to include extras such as breakfast, late checkout and tours to provide a value-add to every room sale.