Spring is a time for renewal, and there’s no better time to freshen up your digital strategy. Tom Kenyon, Vice President of Product at Bluetent, has words of advice to help focus your strategic efforts. “2019 is the year for guest-centric features, not bells and whistles. Reviews, reviews, reviews, and some fresh photos. It’s ironic [that] with so much talk around cutting-edge technology and features, reviews and photos are still what matter most to your guests.”
With that in mind, here are five areas of digital strategy you might consider refreshing this season. Providing your guests with a better brand experience builds traveler loyalty and ultimately increases bookings.
As you’ve likely heard over and over again, you only have one opportunity to make a first impression. Your photos do the bulk of the heavy lifting in this regard, so a professional photo portfolio is a must.
A good photo not only introduces travelers to your destination, but it also lets travelers imagine themselves in the scene. You can use simple staging techniques to create scenes that invite viewers in. It’s as easy as placing a glass of wine and an open book next to a chaise lounge. Close-ups and detail shots are also important, so be sure to highlight the special details of your property that will make a traveler choose your rental over another.
TripAdvisor found that 53 percent of travelers won’t commit to booking until they’ve read reviews, and that 80 percent read between 6 and 12 reviews before booking. Simply put, it pays to have good reviews.
If you’re not getting enough reviews, try automating your review-generation process with email. The benefit is twofold: you show your guests that you care about their experiences, and you get reviews that help generate more bookings.
Once the positive reviews start rolling in, leverage them! Highlight them on your blog and share them on social media—even build a landing page around them. Use reviews to build loyalty and generate interest with potential guests.
Another way to build confidence in your brand is to quickly and thoughtfully respond to all reviews. Responding to the good, the bad, and the ugly shows guests that you are genuinely concerned about their experiences.
Security and Accessibility
Two ways to continue building trust with travelers are to address security concerns and accessibility issues. If your goal is to generate more direct bookings through your website, make sure your website is secure. Give guests the confidence they need. For example, include a PCI-compliance badge on your checkout page, as well as any other security logos or badges you’ve earned. This will help travelers feel confident about the safety of their data.
Just like brick-and-mortar businesses offer their customers ADA-compliant experiences, online storefronts should try to do the same. You can increase your audience by providing text alternatives for any non-text content, allowing that content to be changed into forms such as braille. Using high-contrast images and text can also make a positive difference in a viewer’s experience with your site.
Google Consumer Insights found that 48 percent of smartphone users are comfortable booking on a mobile device. Thus, it’s more important than ever to make sure that your site is ready for mobile booking. A mobile website without a mobile checkout process leads to cart abandonment at worst and decreased trust in your brand at best. Increase your conversions with mobile-booking functionality.
Your successful digital strategy depends on content. Content communicates your unique strengths in an increasingly competitive market and is the foundation of your marketing efforts. Leverage the fact that you are the expert when it comes to your destination. Become your guests’ trusted advisor. Think about creating content that travelers will want to consume—the kind that makes them want to dive further into your website. Make time to add content on a regular basis. Consistently creating high-quality content increases your visibility in search engines and helps drive qualified traffic to your website.
For 16 years, Bluetent has provided digital solutions to vacation rental companies of all sizes. From our suite of direct-booking Rezfusion websites—designed specifically for the needs of vacation rental professionals—to digital marketing and channel management, we assist vacation rental managers in developing well-rounded digital presences that inspire travelers, build emotional loyalty, and accelerate reservations and revenue. To speak with Bluetent about guest-centric digital strategy, contact us at 970-704-3240 or visit www.bluetent.com.