You have invested in the land, sowed the grass and planted trees. Is your garden ready? Unfortunately not – it requires regular care and attention. The same applies to the booking engine on your hotel website. Find out how to make your booking engine an enduring drive for your business. 1. Ensure availability for at least a year ahead Look forward to the future, even 12 months ahead, because your potential guests do exactly the same planning their holidays in advance. The data from the Profitroom Booking Engine for the end of October 2019 showed that over half of the hotels already had bookings for 2020. How much did they benefit from the early publication of the offer? How much did the hotels lose if they did not offer their guests a stay until 2020? 2. Study the calendar when setting prices and maximize the potential of your hotel When developing details of the offer, consider high and low seasons as well as holiday and vacation periods: Check the calendar of local events that attract visitors to your facility. Promoting local events also increases interest in a destination. Follow the information included in the Hotel Planner 2020 – it offers tips on when to launch and promote your offer. Use the free Google Trends tool to research the needs of guests. This tool will help you find out when phrases such as “summer holidays” are searched for in the search engine. Having this knowledge allows you to add an offer at the right time, increasing your chances of filling up the hotel. Make your strategy a year-round cycle. A hotel with very little and flat website traffic is bound to struggle to win the market with a one-off seasonal campaign because the user path on the website is not consistent and typically involves numerous short interactions with the brand. You can also enjoy high occupancy during the low season if you plan your activities well in advance. What are the options? For example, show your guests that the off-season is far more exciting – better deals, no crowds yet no shortage of attractions. Fine-tune your offer, keep the attractions section of your website up to date, update your blog, offer advice on trips to the most interesting sites, stay active in social media, add photos and videos. Make sure your hotel offers a wide range of SPA packages, a promise of exceptional relaxation and tranquillity for guests who are not convinced by the local attractions in the low season. You can also benefit from the magic of discounts, but be sure to plan them well. Adding too many last-minute discounts means your guests will learn to wait until the very last moment and reduce your booking window. If you start offering excessively high discounts through intermediaries, you will lose direct bookings. 3. Remember to include a price for staying with children Travelling with children is becoming increasingly popular. It is also easier to arrange a family stay. If your hotel welcomes families with children, introduce a price per person, not per room. This allows you to accommodate a child free of charge or for less than for an adult (for example, considering the cost of meals). 4. Factor in your main target groups, e.g. individual customers, and keep an eye on their needs The key to a good offer is to step into the customer’s skin. If you need to learn about the needs of a specific group of guests, start by analyzing them at your hotel level: How big is this group? What impact did they have on your revenue? What services did they use and what were their expectations? What made them choose your hotel? Next, examine the typical characteristics of the group, e.g. business guests are usually very demanding in terms of the speed of service and the booking process itself. They have a very tight schedule and they finalize the details of their stay when at work or on the road – it is worthwhile letting them book the rates negotiated on the hotel’s website. Profitroom Booking Engine 5. Give your guest a choice Make sure your guests can view several offers in your engine – a lack of choice can make a guest look elsewhere. But don’t exaggerate – having too much choice discourages, as it makes a guest’s decision process more challenging. The majority of us wish to have control over our lives and at the same time, we like to keep it simple. This is also connected with the next tip. 6. Specify what exactly is included in the offer description Your potential guests are in a rush, they need specific information and an opportunity to act quickly. If you do not specify what to expect from the offer, the guest will either choose the competition or attempt to contact you for more information overburdening the busy reception staff. The offer description should be both informative and short. A long description or a large block of text will discourage the reader. Preferably, include 1-2 introductory sentences, and then in the form of bullet points, write what is included in the offer. How to describe rooms to help the guest decide? 7. Choose your images wisely When it comes to photos, quality really does matter. It is worth investing in photographs that reflect the atmosphere of the hotel and demonstrate what a potential visitor can expect. Remember, however, that the photos contained should be both eye-catching and appropriate to the content of the offer. 8. Make sure the information is translated and up-to-date Recollect that moment when you are hungry, you arrive at a restaurant, you check the menu and choose a dish, and the waiter then informs you that the restaurant does not serve the first position anymore and the third one is either a vegetarian or meat variant. Your offer needs to be up to date to keep your guest interested. If you care about foreign guests, remember about translations. “It is still the case that special offers, one of the most important elements on a hotel website, include no translations which in turn significantly reduces the chances of winning a booking. The website is literally a sales department, which first needs to be robustly designed and maintained daily”. – explains Sławomir Wojciechowski, Head of Interactive at Profitroom. 9. Sell additional services at the time of booking Offer your guests a SPA, a wake-up call or a laundry service as early as the moment of booking to increase its value. For instance, business guests pay great attention to “extras”. Complement your business packages with options and services that are suitable for them, for example, parking, dinner or the morning press. 10. Provide a variety of online payment methods Online payments have long been a must-have in the world of online shopping, now also when booking accommodation. The impossibility of making an instant online payment has discouraged a growing number of guests. This is especially true for foreigners using online payments as a less expensive alternative to payments in a foreign country or a foreign currency. Thus, provide your guests with fast and secure payments and give them a choice between a card payment and a bank transfer. 11. Encourage visitors to leave their e-mails Every present guest is a potential future guest. That is why it is worth doing the utmost to make sure such a person returns to our hotel. This important task is connected with obtaining marketing permissions, allowing us to freely and lawfully communicate with guests and invite them to visit us again. How can you collect them? To save yourself some time, it is a good idea to automate the process using modern CRM. 12. Make your booking panel a highlight Your booking engine should remain visible on the hotel’s website at all times. The website is in a sense an online shop showing your guest a detailed offer. The chosen product should be available for a quick and hassle-free purchase. How hotel booking engine works?