Increase Direct Hotel Bookings Via Hotel Website Localization Services
Today the global hotel business landscape is shifting back to divert the business from online travel agencies to the own hotel website with the aim to win direct customers. The true cause of this change is difficult to perceive, but many experts agree on a few factors. Firstly, hotels avoid paying the commission online travel agencies charge for indirect bookings. Secondly, it gives hotels a chance to learn more about how guests are arriving at their sites and their preferences to increase personalization with the help of services provided by hotel marketing websites and hotel marketing freelancers. Thirdly and importantly, thanks to the marketing efforts of the large hotel chains travelers are becoming more aware that direct bookings can offer considerable advantages: lower room rates and discounts as well as personalized offers based on loyalty status and past behaviors.
Indeed, thanks to advanced hotel marketing techniques the game of driving the bookings away from the travel agencies by converting more on hotel websites has started. That was quite predictable, as the increasing number of direct bookings online is appealing to every hotel website (especially beneficial for small hotels) because it’s the most profitable sales channel of all.
However, according to the poll conducted by Leonardo in 2016 (one of the biggest marketing companies) 60% of hoteliers admitted that they do have to face the challenge how to increase direct hotel bookings.
Marketing Solutions how to increase direct hotel bookings
Nowadays emerging technologies and hotel marketing websites are helping the hospitality industry to adapt as fast as possible to increasing and worrying challenges that are heavily impacting marketing operations. Robert Cole, Are Morch, Marketing Times, ReviewPro, World Tourism Forum, Intuitive Web Design, Corinna Witt, Helena-Reet Ennet, Capterra Hotel Mgmt as well as hotel marketing freelancers are working hard in the field of hotel marketing techniques in order to help hotel owners increase direct hotel bookings.
By and large the following hotel marketing techniques and other trends can reinforce your hotel website online presence and boost direct bookings:
- Discounts and Loyalty Offers
- Social Media
- Review Management
- Website design and optimization
- Easy to Book
- Mobile-friendly website
Today I would like to talk about another trend which has not been much discussed in the marketing resources: website localization services. As I’ve been entirely connected with hotel website owners and have to deal with their issues every day, I would like to share my knowledge and skills as well as my successful experience on how to boost direct bookings from hotel websites.
Localization solutions to increase direct hotel bookings
1. Hotel Website Localization Techniques
For many years a question of website localization and translation has been seen as the process of cultural adaptation of web content and applications, modifying the source language and other site elements to appeal to the customer’s cultural preferences in their own target language. But recently there arose a question of website localization and translation quality. It turns out that a big percentage of customers who assigned projects to translate a website into Russian are not satisfied with the results. The customers haven’t increased direct hotel bookings on their websites from the targeted markets and they haven’t increased direct hotel bookings with social media.
There is a range of reasons for that. Let me give you an example. A few months ago a company X (for confidentiality reasons I would not reveal the name) contacted me asking to check if their localized hotel website is addressing the Russian-speaking community properly. The manager stated that they had invested a fortune into localization in Russian but still do not see any return on investments and their website didn’t increase direct hotel bookings. The main goal of this project was to drive new customers to their localized hotel website through web search results. I conducted an audit checklist of this hotel website translation and detected that this localization in Russian is not relevant at all for the target audience. The vendor just translated webpages to Russian (I would call that translation, as the final goal of the project — increase direct hotel bookings — has not been reached) adapting cultural and linguistic elements for the target market.
As I have already mentioned above, the final goal of a localized hotel website is to drive new guests/customers to the hotel website via search results. In other words, the content for your hotel website must be relevant for certain markets that you are targeting at. Relevant content is audience-dependent, that means that any website localization techniques should start with the basic essence who is going to make direct bookings. Only by understanding who the potential guests from the target market are, you can address their problems, questions, concerns, interests in the content localization in Russian or in any other languages.
All the website localization best practices provide website localization techniques which outline the intent of the target audience. The hotel guest intent is the vehicle that drives behind the keywords. Roughly the hotel guest intent can be predefined into three main categories:
- do something — commercial queries: “book direct hotel”;
- know something — informational queries: “best hotel Berlin customer reviews”;
- go somewhere — navigational queries: “best hotel in Munich”.
With predefined hotel guest persona and his or her intent, it is very important to develop a list of relevant keywords for the content which going to be localized and work at SEO issues within the localized content. This is a very long and vital topic for discussion. I will explore it in another post.
Briefly, content localization in Russian or any other languages that the target audience speaks starts with hotel guest persona description, their intent, keyword list development and finished with the relevant website localization services, utilizing website localization best practices and relevant SEO improvements.
2. Email Marketing Localization
Email marketing personalization is more important than ever. Today it is probably the easiest way to start creating a more personal experience for your email recipients. No one likes receiving standard bulk mails that are sent to everybody. As a rule, when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions, personal feelings, and experiences, rather than information — brand attributes, features, and facts. It is a must that your readers feel that there is an actual person behind your brand.
Email marketing localization will bring more personalization in the marketing communications and will drive the guests closer to your hotel. When localizing your emails, you are undoubtedly targeting for certain audience. E.g. recently a hotel manager assigned me a newsletter Russian translation project to send newsletters to the Russian-speaking target audience. The purpose was to attract more guests during Christmas holidays. The Russian email marketing project was doomed to failure. It was obviously a localization in Russian. I totally changed the content, because Russian-speaking consumers have Christmas holidays on the 7th of January. 25th of December is a workday, nobody from the Russian-speaking countries would be interested in the hotel promotion within this period of time. In other words asking just for a newsletter Russian translation my customer was obviously taking a risk to carry out useless email marketing campaign among Russian-speaking hotel guests. Or even more — just lose them by getting unsubscribe notes.
This email marketing translation example shows that website localization best practices also include newsletter localization. With the right website localization techniques, you can narrow down the target audience and give more personalization to your marketing campaigns than just sending emails in English. Indeed, the more you know your guest and traveler, the better and more tailored service you can provide. By translating an email from Russian to English or localizing the email content to certain languages, you can create a new profile for your target audience and collect a lot of information: what holidays they celebrate, what they prefer to do on holidays, what they prefer to eat on holidays, etc.