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When did you last Google your hotel?

It’s a tough old world out there for a hotel sailing alone in a wide open ocean of competition.  With online travel agent giants such as Booking.com and Expedia.co.uk hitting all the top spots on Google, they certainly can help to get you found - but of course, charge a commission for the privilege.

Anything up to 25% of your room rate could be swallowed up with bookings secured through an online travel agent (OTA).

Direct bookings through your hotel’s own website are of course more profitable, but how can you ensure your potential guests can find your site? And will the costs of doing this outweigh any OTA commission rates?

Getting yourself found on Google

Making it to the top of Google’s search listings is something of an inexact science.  Google closely guards the secrets behind its search algorithms and continually tweaks them to deliver what it believes will be the most useful search results for any individual query.

That said, there are certain factors that are well-known to influence search results and there is a lot you can do in the way of Search Engine Optimisation for your website.  SEO is a key element of intelligent hotel revenue management.

One of the most basic but most important tenets of SEO is identifying your keywords.

Online tools such as Google AdWords can help to single out keywords with the highest search traffic around them that will be relevant to your website.  Focussing on a small number of significant keywords and continually repeating them throughout your online content will let Google know that when someone searches for that particular keyword, your site is a valuable source of information.

Your online content includes just about everything that is used to build your website.  So, it’s not just the description you write for your hotel or individual rooms, but things like a page’s URL, its meta title, the page description and even the alternative text for an image can all be optimised to include your keywords.

Paying to be found on Google

Pay per click adverts are another weapon in the independent hotelier’s armoury.  Again using Google’s AdWords tool, websites are able to bid to secure one of the top spots on search results for individual keywords or phrases.  When someone clicks on your ad, you pay Google the small fee you agreed upon.

It’s then up to your website to make sure that click is turned into a sale, which would make the outlay for the ad worthwhile.

Make sure your website is fit for purpose

In 2015, smartphones overtook all other devices for accessing the internet.  A report by Ofcom revealed that 33% of internet access is via a smartphone, with laptop use pushed back to 30%.  This means a third of your clientele will be looking at your hotel website on their phones – so it’s vital to have a website that can respond to being easily viewed on both small and large screens.

Google has also let it be known that being mobile friendly is another factor in the way it ranks websites – so responsive sites will in future gain precedence in Google results.

Your website also needs to be user-friendly when it comes to things like booking a room or searching availability.  And making it worth your customers’ time to do so through your website rather than a third-party, by making sure you’re offering the best rates and deals on your own site, will go some way to counteracting the charges of OTAs.

Get advice from a hotel revenue management specialist

It’s always going to be tough to compete with the giants of the travel industry, and the harsh truth is that few independent hotels will have a budget capable of rivalling the powerful marketing resources of the likes of Booking.com etc.  But getting the balance right between direct and indirect sales can make a world of difference to the success of your hotel.

If you would like to find out more about driving direct business to your website, Octopus Revenue offers a one-day hotel revenue management training course focussing on today’s distribution challenges.  Find out more about this course here.

For more information on how Octopus Revenue can help your hotel revenue management, contact us today.

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