How the Clock PMS web reservation system can add value to hotels' online sales strategy and support their efforts to increase direct Internet bookings.
In the Internet-connected world we live in today, it is hard to imagine a hotel or other accommodation provider that does not have own website and does not offer their own online booking system. With the constant struggle of hoteliers to take back some share of their bookings from OTAs and decrease the amount of paid commissions, it is actually impossible.
Clock PMS is a full-featured cloud hotel management system that offers one of the most comprehensive web booking engines focused on direct bookings increase and optimised conversion.
With that being said, let us get to the point and focus on some good practices that make the employment of the web reservation system in Clock PMS more beneficial to your website and the bottom line of your hospitality business.
- Setup. This first step is easy. You just activate the add-on and set your preferences, like whether you are going to sell room types or particular booking units. Helpful hints in the application will guide you throughout the process and there are many useful articles and videos in the Support section of our website on how to setup your reservation system.
- Design. There is a detailed step-by-step guide on how to customise the design of your web booking engine and make it blend into your website, so we won't repeat the instructions here. We are just mentioning this first two steps as they are an important part of the process.
- Translation. The online booking system is available in several languages (10 to this date) but what is even more useful is that you can translate it in any other language you want. So, if you have a significant number of guests from, let's say Belgium, you can easily translate all fields and your custom texts in Flemish for your customers' convenience. All avaiable languages will appear on the welcome screen of the booking system.
- Custom links. These are links that you generate in the web booking engine and lead to particular offers. Following them, the online customer sees a calendar with the rooms and dates available for that specific rate. These links are a great tool to promote your specials via different media and we will return to them in a bit.
Your competitors are at least as active as you are - on social media, on their websites and on OTA listings. So don't be shy! Add great pictures and enticing descriptions of your rooms and top amenities in the web reservation system. Look back at your customer reviews to see what your guests like most and push the promotion of those features even further. Don't miss to point out what makes you unique and outstanding among other properties in your area. Most important, clearly state what your customers will get more if they book directly with you than with any booking mediator. Describe the incentives you include or announce your best price guarantee, for example. In addition, you could tell why you are able to provide a better service to those who make their booking through your own web booking engine. Here is a study on what are the most desirable hotel incentives that influence the booking decisions of travellers. And this survey shows the most popular reasons for online booking abandonment.
Address the needs of different target groups in your landing pages, email campaigns or social media posts. For example, you can just copy an existing rate but give it a different name for each target group. The online booking engine in Clock PMS lets you create various special offers and generate custom links directly to them. This means that by clicking on your call to action, the potential customer will be taken directly to the availability calendar that shows the dates and rooms available for that particular offer only. Why is this so important? Abandoned bookings are a big issue for hotel marketers and sales persons and by shortening the booking process and eliminating possible distraction or confusion, the web booking engine actually helps you to decrease their number. This feature of the reservation system optimises your conversion funnel and it is more likely for the customer to complete your final goal.
Empower the customer
The web booking engine in Clock PMS is a great tool not only to attract new customers but also to enable existing ones to benefit from your own advanced technology.
Corporate clients and partners
If you have companies that use your services at negotiated rates, like travel agents or corporate clients, you can give them unique codes to access those special rates through the online reservation system on your website. This, combined with the option to book multiple rooms or stays in one transaction, makes your website the perfect place for the travel manager of Company ABC to book all rooms for the upcoming month at a time of his or her convenience and the corporate price you have negotiated upon. Or, the travel agency XYZ is able to check your availability and rates and reserve the rooms they need immediately, even if your call center is totally busy at the moment. This has the following benefits:
- Rooming lists can be avoided at a later stage as the bookings are already in your hotel mangement system
- You keep track on these sales in the hotel PMS and it is easy to handle payments, account receivables and invoicing
- Duplicate bookings are not an issue thanks to the synchronised availability across channels that Clock PMS provides
- Your reservation office is relieved because agents and corporates can book by themselves through your online booking engine.
Increase your online booking engine's conversion
Yes, that guests that brought you some business but only you know how much of the revenue got into the OTA's pocket. This group is really important for your business and it is crucial to engage them and turn them into your own customers. Withdraw a list of guests from the company profiles (the channel manager in Clock PMS associates every booking with the company/name of the channel). Send them an email to thank them for choosing your hotel and add a special offer, e.g. related to an upcoming event in your area, a new amenity or just including some incentive. Make sure to point out that the bonus code is only applicable to direct bookings made through the online booking system on your website and that this is a time-limited offer (can be set up in the rate restrictions) for selected audience only. In other words, make them feel special and eager to engage with you. With this you have given them a good reason to skip the mediator and opt for making direct business with you next time they plan a trip.
Usually, travellers make an initial research on the Internet about their next trip, often using one of the big portals like Booking or TripAdvisor, then visit the chosen property's website for more information or on the look for a better deal. In other words, your website's first time visitors often come from an OTA site. Here is where you have the opportunity to grab their attention and lure them down the sales funnel. The web booking engine in Clock PMS gives you the instruments to achieve your goal.
- Make sure that you have placed the search box (the initial screen of the web reservation system) on every spot on your website that could be a good starting point for booking a room. If you have a page where all room types are described, you can also add a "Book this room" button beside each section and link it to the availability and rates of that particular unit (e.g. only DBL rooms).
- The web booking engine lets you sell extra services, like SPA, parking, late check out or anything else you have to offer. Make a good use of this opportunity. When potential guests are enabled to book everything they need in one place, they are more likely to close the deal with you.
- Add compelling names and descriptions of rooms and rates to explain what incentives are in there for the customer and make the deal irresistible. Of course, there are some rate parity issues to observe here, but this is exactly the point at which you can convince the customer to book with you, right now, without looking further or going back to the OTA site.
- Another idea is to implement a "first time booker" offer and promote a bonus code that gives a discount. Such rates are easy to create in the hotel PMS using the derived rate functionality. Such type of promotion has been used by Expedia, for example, so why not follow.
Sure, you can figure out a lot of other creative ways to boost your marketing actions with the help of your Internet reservation system.
Build and retain guest loyalty
Once a guest have left your hotel, do not forget to engage with them shortly after that and stay connected. You can create promotional offers and regularly distribute them by e-mail, social media or other marketing channels, addressing the needs of each target group and taking them to your booking engine with prefilled search parameters that match the specific offer. The custom links to specific rates that you generate from your Internet reservation system can be integrated in banners, text ads, mailing campaigns and any other marketing collateral. People got used to QR codes lately, so don't skip this option, too. Also, do not forget to integrate the web booking system (and the online gift voucher shop) into your property's Facebook fan page. Once your guests come back to your website and enter their email address in the online booking engine, the system will recognise them and greet them personally by name. It is also capable of retrieving some helpful information about their previous visits.
In conclusion, the web reservation system in Clock PMS provides hotel marketers with all the necessary tools to turn lookers into bookers on the one hand, and convert OTA bookers to direct customers, on the other. Its power extends from the customisable design that makes it blend into your website for a better look, through the fast and clear booking process and the possibility to generate deep links to specific offers to minimise booking abandonment, to the options to upsell by offering extra services or to provide corporate clients and loyal guests private access to special rates directly through the web booking engine.
Of course, the Clock Software service team is always ready to support you in employing the Internet reservation system of Clock PMS in the best possible way in order to take the most advantage of it and stand out from your competitors. Get in touch now or visit the Demo hotel website.