With the increasing popularity of the vacation rental website Airbnb, it is more important than ever to leverage your hotel’s unique qualities to ensure guests keep coming back to stay. Here are 5 features your hotel provides that guests won’t find at an Airbnb and tips to better market them to potential guests!
Feature #1: Points & Reward Programs
Travelers can reap extreme benefits from different points and reward loyalty programs offered by hotel brands. Most do not take advantage of the benefits because they do not know about them or they do not realize it is free to join. From low rate guarantees, to free nights & complimentary WiFi, guests from all markets should take advantage of the reward programs offered by your hotel. What are effective strategies to promote your hotel’s reward programs to guests?
Promote Rewards Programs Across Your Independent Website
Utilize the customizable functionalities of your independent website to grab the attention of guests by promoting rewards programs in highly active areas of your website (i.e. close to the booking widget). Since your booking widget is one of the most clicked areas of your website, promoting your brand’s reward program here will help drive interest. Work with your Blue Magnet Interactive Account Manager to discuss placement options your independent website has.
Feature #2: Trustworthy Reviews & Accountable Accommodations
Since Airbnb became the hot trend in travel, everyone seems to be hopping on board for one reason or another. One appeal of Airbnb is that it allows guests access to a locally curated world that provides a taste of how life would be to live like a local. The downside is that accommodation descriptions, which are written by the renter, can be misleading or a downright lie. There are many instances of guests arriving to a location only to find out the property’s description and images have been completely falsified. There are multiple websites dedicated to providing guests a platform to share their negative Airbnb experiences, indicating a larger issue with Airbnb’s guest review process. Also, have you ever noticed the lack of negative reviews on Airbnb listings? You are not the only one wondering where these negative reviews disappear to. Airbnb has taken a note from Uber and rolled out a two-way market place review system. This means that at the end of a stay both guests and hosts have the opportunity to review their experiences and share it with the Airbnb world. Because this review process isn’t anonymous some guests and hosts are skimping on the truthfulness in their reviews. It’s important to note that since a guest’s negative review will always be attached to their name this makes some weary of being 100% honest and truthful which allows poor hosts to continue reaping the benefits of renting, while guests (and future guests alike) get stuck with a less than stellar accommodation experience. Not to mention that future hosts might not rent to a guest who leaves a negative review in fear of obtaining one themselves!
The popularity of online review sites, such as TripAdvisor, allows both hoteliers and guests to be held accountable for the information they are putting out on sites but in a much different way than the two-way market place review system from Airbnb. The benefit that guests receive from having many options to not only book but research a hotel before their stay is that they get the experience of past guests in the form of reviews. It is rare a reviewer will refrain from sharing a negative experience, so while some guests did not have the experience you have intended for them to have, it is more valuable to have honest reviews written about your hotel. Not to mention guests don’t have to worry about being reviewed themselves. Some review sites provide on-site images that are both user generated and professional images directly supplied by a hotel. This allows guests to ensure that the queen bedroom with bunk bed stack room is indeed large enough for the whole family. Once you capture the trust of a potential guest the goal is to leverage it into a booking. To do this hoteliers need to think holistically about their online presence and utilize the positive review community across multiple sites with their independent website. With so many reviews scattered across the web, what are some ways hoteliers can utilize trustworthy reviews to their advantage?
Link a Trusted Review Site Directly to Your Independent Website
It sounds obvious but some hoteliers need to be reminded that their independent website is a place to showcase all the unique aspects and amenities your hotel provides for guests. Promoting places across the web that also showcase said amazingness can be done with ease on your independent website through the use of custom sidebar banners. It’s intuitive for users to think that a hotel would not link out or advertise their reviews if they weren’t proud of the feedback they’ve gotten from past guests. Your Blue Magnet Interactive Digital Marketing Manager can help you determine the best place on your independent website to place a custom banner and also advise on choosing the right review platform to promote!
Share Positive Reviews on Social Media
Sharing positive user experiences across social media is not only easily curated content but a wonderful way to promote a positive guest experience and make that content available to new users on a different platform.
Respond To as Many Reviews as You Can, Both Positive & Negative:
While it is impossible to reply to 100% of reviews we recommend responding to 100% of negative reviews, and 30% of positive reviews. Responding gives your faceless hotel a voice and allows you to be an active part of the conversation about your hotel!
Feature #3: Free & Consistent Amenities
Depending on a guest’s intention to travel, free amenities can make a trip worth taking. Business travelers love on-site dining options and who can blame them? After a long day of meetings or conventions your hotel’s on-site restaurant provides convenience and comfort for business travelers with limited down time. In addition to the convenience of grabbing a quick bite, an on-site dining option provides business travelers an option to prep with colleagues, unwind with a cocktail, or grab a quick bite to eat – all within the convenience of your hotel. Oh, did we mention the enjoyment that room service, complimentary breakfasts, and evening reception bring to the guest experience? Airbnb’s definitely do not provide cooked-to-order omelets or nightly drinks and cocktails at any of their locations, so how do hoteliers leverage these free amenities in their favor?
Dedicate a specific section of your website to a niche travel market.
The goal of dedicating a section or sections of your website to your niche travel market is that you not only make them feel special by catering to them, but you help build their trust in your hotel, amenities and ability to fulfill their expectations during their time of travel. By controlling the design of your website you’ll be able to direct users exactly where you want them to go and not only to discover content catered specifically to them, but to also get them to the place they’re most likely to convert.
Say your hotel is catering specifically to business travelers, or convention center attendees. If this is the case, it wouldn’t hurt to carve out a designated page of your website curated with content and helpful information catering to this market. Just like the Embassy Suites by Hilton Convention Center Las Vegas hotel did for their business specials. Targeting a specific market by designating areas on your site that capture their attention help to make potential guests feel more comfortable while in the research phase of booking, making them more likely to convert.
Feature #4: Safety!
While we would like to believe that tragedies are few and far between, the reality is there are no health and safety regulations that Airbnb’s are required to follow. While guests would like to assume that most rental properties are safe, the risk of losing your life to a faulty carbon monoxide detector or poor on-site safety standards just is not worth it. While safety is not the most glamorous topic to promote, there are ways hoteliers can leverage this information to make guests aware their property has safety standards in place.
Include specific safety information on your website.
The best way to inform guests of any worry they may have is to provide details that answer their concerns. By doing this, you put your guests’ minds at ease and allowing them to book with peace of mind.
Feature 5: Special Offers & Area Attraction Partnerships
I have yet to find an Airbnb that provides accommodations and awesome partnership’s with popular area attractions. The relationships hotels have with their local community presents the ability to promote and package specials that benefit both your hotel and the attraction. There are many creative ways to promote these partnerships through social media and your hotel’s independent website. One way to highlight this unique feature is to make sure you have a visible call to action on each related page of your website.
Feature Unique Partnerships Across Your Site
Feature a clickable link to a ticket store for guests to easily purchase tickets. In the example below, this hotel has a partnership with Disney World Tickets. This information can be found throughout their independent website including relevant landing pages, the special offers page, and on sidebar banners that link directly to where users can purchase tickets.
Remember Your Features & Use Them To Your Advantage
All in all, it is important to remember that you know the unique features of your hotel best and, while Airbnb is the newest trend in travel, your hotel provides a multitude of amenities and top notch features sure to be preferred by any guest. Remember, your Blue Magnet Digital Marketing Manager is here to help! Contact us to discuss ways to promote different features at your hotel!