While Online Travel Agents are important for your bed & breakfast, the value of direct bookings are huge. Direct bookings not only impact your profitability, but they influence your guest relationship.
As the industry matures, it’s inevitable that at times it will seem congested. This only highlights how important travelers direct bookings are, for a mutually beneficial experience.
Sometimes people get more enjoyment from their anticipation of a trip than actually being on it. When the reservation results from a direct booking, it allows you to take control of pre-stay messaging and begin to build a relationship with the customer.
This often has a corresponding effect towards establishing your guests loyalty. Guest loyalty is a bonus often redeemed with return business and helps your B & B maintain consistent revenue. It’s always easier and cheaper to hold on to existing guests than convincing new ones to book your rooms.
By establishing relationships using direct bookings will benefit your bed & breakfast and guest when it comes to testing, proving and implementing new technological innovations.
The challenge today is that customer expectations have never been higher, so your bed & breakfast experience is compared against the best customer experience they have received from ANYONE.
One of the biggest barriers to creating the direct relationships your bed & breakfast needs is guest friction.
What is friction?
Customer friction is explained as ‘any aspect of the customer interaction that has a negative impact on the customer experience’.
According to research, 43% of US customers say they experienced an unsatisfactory interaction with at least one company in a 12-month period.
Some qualified examples include:
- Travelers are spending 25% more time researching and booking lodging than flights.
- 58% of travelers would be likely call a B & B if calling was available in a smartphone search, but many property owners create friction by removing this option in the booking process.
Other common issues include:
- Making guests switch communication channels to resolve something
- Informing the customer of a problem without an available solution
- Technical problems
Types of friction
Data suggests that all industries experience similar customer friction across five broad categories which we have adapted:
- Engagement – feeling distant or uninformative to your guests
- Process – complicating or delaying the booking and check-in/out process
- Technology – having a slow website or too many page views to click through
- Ecosystem – lacking automated information/confirmations
- Knowledge – not providing sufficient details about your property
Digital interactions is increasingly the direction the world is moving. With more processes becoming self-service and based on automation.
Guests actually want everything to be as quick and easy as possible. If you aren’t providing this convenience, your competitors will.
How you can remove friction
Removing friction points is the fastest, and easiest way for you to increase direct bookings to your Bed & Breakfast. Let’s directly examine the friction categories.
Remove Engagement Friction
Boosting your audience engagement is relatively easy and quick. Here are three potential options:
1. Social media. Increasing and optimizing your social media strategy is a guaranteed way to boost engagement.
Think carefully about the content you post, how often you update your page, and the best way of connecting to your followers.
Think of your social page and its followers as a community.
2. Customer profiling. Social media also makes up part of how you get to know your guests. You should constantly try to gather more data about the behavior and desires of your guests.
The more you know about your guests, the easier you can adapt your marketing and services to accommodate their needs. This puts them in a positive mindset and encourages good will. When your guests think of your B & B they will be reminded of how you really care about them.
Use every opportunity to learn about your target market.
3. Events and attractions. Using your website/blog or social pages to provide information on local events and attractions is one of the simplest ways to drive traffic and engage people with your brand, with little effort on your part.
Remove Process Friction
A common complaint for travelers is how long it takes to finalize their trip once they’ve made a decision.
The more options, and less time they have to spend during the booking process the better.
You can optimize this with a solution that includes a two-step booking engine, which integrates with your Facebook page.
Remove Technology Friction
Nothing reduces a guest’s trust or patience more than having a problem with your technology, most commonly your website.
A web page that is unresponsive to mobile, slow to load, or aesthetically unattractive will force customers elsewhere.
Invest in smart and simple website technology that launches instantly and is customizable to your needs.
Remove Ecosystem Friction
Saving time and keeping your customers informed should be a priority when running your Bed & Breakfast.
You don’t want to get swamped by paperwork or responding to each individual reservation personally. But your guests don’t want to be kept waiting for their booking confirmation, details, or receipts.
Using an integrated and automated booking system will alleviate most of the stress and hassle of booking and post-booking stages.
Remove Knowledge Friction
Your website and social media play a major role in making sure guests have accurate and realistic information about your property.
You need to actively managing your online reviews and ensure that your guest’s peers receive an accurate picture of your bed & breakfast.
Naturally, travelers want to know what they’re going to get for their money.
Clearly identifying the points of travelers friction you can quickly begin reducing it, resulting in more direct bookings and improved guest experience. Hopefully building a loyal and valuable customer base through your efforts.
If you want more tips on how you can create an engaging online presence for your business, follow the IAA Bed and Breakfast Blog and our Facebook Page.
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