Getting travelers to your website is one of the first steps towards generating a direct booking, but how are travelers finding you? Optimizing your website with best practices in SEO can help you improve your placement within Google, Yahoo and Bing Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), but what other options are available?
HebsDigital offered recommendations for properties to “jump start” direct bookings through the use of Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Unlike SEO, which is mainly done through the development of your website, SEM deals with paid placements within SERPs, and according to Hebs, more than 25% of direct online revenue for hotels comes directly through SEM initiatives. Here are a few of these recommendations, along with a short synopsis from ResortsandLodges.
- Take advantage of new ad formats to ensure your strongest marketing messages are presented to travel consumers. Google’s Expanded Text Ads allow properties to incorporate more information into their standard text ads, and drastically outperform the standard ads’ CTR by 47%.
- Understand the big picture by tracking behavior across devices AND channels. According to Google, more than half (52%) of total travel bookings in the U.S. involve either mobile or multiple devices. Is your website optimized for mobile? Do you have full tracking coverage for all of your marketing efforts?
- Deliver a consistent message along the travel consumer’s planning and purchasing journey. From 2015 to 2016, the number of digital touchpoints that influenced a travel booking doubled from 9.2 to 19. With that much contact between your brand website and marketing initiatives, it’s vital to have a consistent message.
- Listen to your guests to align your marketing messages with the travel consumer’s perception of your property. It’s important to understand how travelers are reaching your website and what terms they’re using to describe your property. Managing your online reputation on review sites and listing directories allows you to better understand your property through the eyes of consumers.
- Budget appropriately and prioritize direct bookings. OTAs do not appear to be leaving the travel space any time soon, and Google’s phase out of text ads from the right side of desktop search results caused an increase in Cost-per-click and lower profits. Using a bidding tool like CPA (Cost per Acquisition) allows you to define your conversion and allot additional budget for interactions that are likely to lead to a booking.
- Use the tools available to communicate your value proposition and stand out from the crowd. Travelers, and consumers in general, want to know two things: How much they’re paying and how much they’re saving. Price extensions are another Expanded Ad format that give marketers the ability to promote different room types, or packages, allowing you to potentially speak to different audiences within the same ad.
At ResortsandLodges, we have a team dedicated to optimizing your digital marketing performance, from CPC initiatives to e-mail marketing and content creation. Let our experts help you measure the ROI and get the most out of your marketing efforts.