How to Increase Online Bookings as a Boutique Hotel

In today’s competitive online environment, achieving consistent bookings and healthy revenue levels can be challenging as a boutique hotel. It’s important to find the right balance between generating direct bookings and utilising the right distribution channels, such as OTAs and the GDS.

Here are a few helpful tips to increase your online bookings and boost overall revenue as a boutique hotel.

Understand the boutique hotel market

No matter what you are trying to sell, understanding your target market is the key to success, as it helps you tailor your marketing and communication efforts in the right way.

Boutique hotels are known and appreciated for being unique, intimate, luxurious and a tad quirky. What is more, these types of hotels almost always go above and beyond to make guests stay enjoyable. In fact, some of the top hotels in the world are boutique hotels, which has helped put them on the map and grow in popularity. 

For these reasons, boutique hotels often attract customers with a higher disposable income who are looking for an unforgettable and offbeat experience. Ideally, something more than just ‘somewhere to sleep’ during their holiday. This is especially the case for the up and coming generations, including millennials, who are more able to afford affluent travel than ever before. 

Understanding the boutique hotel market is, unfortunately, only half the battle. It is also essential to know where this audience is in order to get in front of them at the right place and at the right time. If you find you are attracting younger guests, make sure you are present on social media, have strong SEO (search engine optimisation) and have an easy to use mobile friendly booking system. If your audience tends to be older, then optimising your visibility on the GDS should be high on your priority list. 

When it comes to your marketing and communications, you will want to highlight all the wonderful and unique things about your boutique hotel. For example, are you a pet-friendly establishment? Do you have a special theme or history? What about never before seen experience guests can have at your hotel? Don’t think twice about advertising these features, as this is what will attract the attention of your ideal guest. 

Optimise your hotel website 

On average, people will look at 38 different websites before making a decision about where they want to stay. Now, if we think about how many things the human brain can remember in the short term, which can be as low as 5-9 pieces of information according to Synap, you are going to be lucky if your website makes the cut. 

When it comes to boosting your bookings, it’s better not to leave it to luck. To ensure that you are standing out to potential guests against big-brand hotels, spend the time to optimise your website fully. By making a big impact when someone lands on your website, you will likely see them returning to book their stay. 

Some of these optimisation ideas include:

Displaying high-quality images and videos

When making the decision to book a hotel, guests rely heavily on the photos and videos they see on OTAs and on your website. In fact, photography affects the decision to book around 60% of the time. Investing in professional photos and videos will almost always bring you a very high ROI.

Ensuring your website is mobile optimised

We live in a mobile-first world, which means investing in a beautiful and easy to navigate mobile site for your hotel shouldn’t be second-guessed. If your guest notices that your site isn’t optimised for mobile, they may think that you are old fashioned or not up to date, which won’t always work for the type of audience attracted to boutique hotels.  

Adding a ‘BOOK NOW’ button to every page

No matter what steps you take to improve your website, adding a clear and concise CTA (call to action) should always be a priority. Once someone decides that they want to book with you, they should be able to find the ‘book now’ button within a matter of seconds. If not, you have the potential to lose them if they get distracted or frustrated.

Considering an exit intent pop-up

If your guest is in the research phase of booking their hotel, they might not be ready to book even if they like what they see on your website. 

To make sure you don’t lose this lead, add an exit intent pop-up (a pop-up that shows up when someone moves their mouse towards the close button on the browser tab), that offers them 10% off on their next booking if they provide their contact details. 

This not only gives them an extra incentive to book with you, but it also provides you with an email to keep in touch with them and remind them that you still have availability for their dates.

Reviews matter

Online reviews are greatly impacting people’s purchase decisions online. In fact, around 88% of people trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation and this is no different when it comes to booking a hotel.

This is why boutique hotels should always make it a priority to gather positive reviews through various online platforms. This includes any OTAs, as well as Google My Business reviews. Not only will guests have more trust in your hotel if they see a large number of reviews, but Google will likely reward you from an SEO (search engine optimisation) perspective as well.

However, regardless of how well-oiled you are as an establishment, you will never please everyone. This is why hotels shouldn’t be frightened of negative reviews. What really matters is how you respond to them.

 For example, if a guest had a bad experience and shared it online, make sure to take the following steps: 

– Respond as quickly as possible 

– If the guest is saying something false or misleading, address this in a polite manner and clarify any misunderstandings 

– Make the message personalised, apologetic and genuine – nothing is more frustrating than an apathetic and templated response to an unhappy review

– Offer the guest a discount or a free meal at the hotel restaurant for their next stay as an apology for their bad experience

– Offer for the guest to get in touch directly to express any further discontent

– All of the above will not only help win back the unhappy guest but also will show the general public how you handle these types of situations. If handled correctly, a negative review could even generate more bookings!

Increase your visibility with niche distribution channels

The largest OTAs are well known for taking a high commission off of each booking. Plus, you are one of the thousands of hotels listed on these OTAs, making you a small fish in a very large pond. 

To stand out, you want to have visibility on a distribution channel that will not only showcase everything that makes you a wonderful and unique boutique hotel but also offer you a fair partnership agreement with extra exposure opportunities. 

At Best Loved Hotels, we are proud to represent a selection of the most unique and luxurious hotels worldwide. By joining our programme, you will get to take advantage of:

– Listing on bestloved.com, a leading high-end lifestyle travel site with 40,000 unique visitors per month

– GDS bookings from our 9000+ affiliated Travel Agencies

– Free inclusion in either one UK or US travel agency or consumer E-Newsletter

– Three promotional rates distribution per annum

– Inclusion in selected BLH Collections, with targeted distribution strategies

– Inclusion in BLH Partnership Programs giving exposure to 6.1 million consumers

– Digital and brand marketing opportunities

– BLH Corporate Programs inclusion opportunities (subject to acceptance) We will work directly with you to target blue-         chip corporates generating business to your location

To learn more about our programme requirements or to submit your RFP, visit our factsheet or get in touch with us today.