Mobile bookings : Your 4 point check list

Mobile booking optimisation for accommodation owners

Mobile Hotel Website
Mobile Hotel Website – Torcroft hotel

Ownership of smartphones is growing and so are mobile bookings. Mobile bookings grew at 20% in the first half of 2014. Smartphones and tablets now account for 21 percent of hotel bookings with OTAs (online travel agents) taking most of the growth *

Here is a handy four point check list to tick off and make sure you are getting your share of mobile bookings. The longer you leave it the more bookings you could be losing.

1) Your website : Is your website optimised for mobile phones ? Visit your website now and find out if it automatically redirects to a mobile version. If not then customers will be lost because as they give up trying to navigate a full size version on a small screen.

Mobile traffic growth
Mobile traffic growth

2) Speed and size: Yes, this is a case where size matters, big images on your website will take too long to load on a small mobile. Customers get bored waiting, give up and go somewhere else. Mobile websites are more than 70% more likely to convert bookings on a Mobile device and nearly 50% of customers will never come back if they have had a bad experience on a non mobile website.

3) Elegant and Simple wins: You need to cut down on the clutter, remove unnecessary content and keep the most important information at or near the top of the page. One good image coupled with simple easy buttons to access the vital information leading to a booking.

4) Mobile Booking engine: There is absolutely no point in having a mobile website without mobile optimised booking engine. The booking functionality needs to work on a mobile phone in just the same way your website needs to be optimised. The booking process should be fast, simple and elegant that’s what leads to more mobile bookings. Visit your website with your mobile phone and make sure the booking process changes when you try to make a booking on your phone.

It’s not difficult or expensive to get a mobile website and mobile booking engine our technology has been powering mobile bookings for years make sure you are not missing out.

Mobile Booking for accommodation  Freetobook Plus Services
Freetobook customers can easily add mobile services to their account in the TAB “Plus”

 

 

 

Mobile websites for hotels

 

Video showing how a good mobile website and a good mobile booking should and can look for accommodation owners all over the world.

* 2014 Travel Flash Report by Criteo

Together case study – How to get a group accommodation website

How a group of B&Bs got Together.

together by freetobook
get together as an accommodation group

Keeping bookings in the community and working together with nearby accommodation businesses has never been easier or more profitable. A small group of Fort William Bed and Breakfast owners got together and use the freetobook software, here is their story.

In their own words…..

together fort william accommodation group
Fort William marketing Group get together

“Together has contributed dramatically to the expansion of the group and to the individual profitability of our members. Without exception, all of our members have gained a substantial value of commission free bookings directly and measurably.”

This is powerful stuff.

Together: provides a live booking website showing rates and availability for all of the group with direct commission free booking….“an almost perfect match for a number of reasons”.

1) All availability for the group can be accessed through a single search. “helping guests save time …. and increasing booking retention within the group”

2) By adding the group search facility to their website they “transformed their group site with almost no cost into a fully functional mini OTA (online travel agent)”

3) All members update availability using their freetobook account so maintenance and upkeep is easy.

4) The Together fees are fixed keeping each member’s annual cost to a minimum…. “we know in advance the cost of maintaining our market advantage…as the group grows individual costs go down !”

The group has gone from 8 local B&Bs to 26 members. With other guest houses in the area wanting to join as they became aware of the benefits in a cooperative approach. “As group members reduce their reliance on the OTAs … we will continue to reap the rewards of the best decision the group has made to date !”

Fort William Marketing Association Case Study with freetobook together online booking

 

freetobook together system for group booking of accommodation providers

Together the video on youtube

How to get your Google business page

Your accommodation business with a Google business page
Get your Google business page free

Now that we know all the benefits of having a Google+ Business page for your accommodation here are some quick and easy steps to getting yours. (If you don’t know why you should get a Google business page see our earlier blog – what a Google business page can do for you)

If you don’t have a Google business page you can set one up in 10 minutes.

Step 1: You need to visit the Google My Business page https://www.google.com/business/ and select the [Get on Google] button, you will be asked to login which you do using your gmail account (you will need a gmail account).

Google my business page
Google my business page

Step 2: Use the search box to find your business and claim the page, stating you are authorised to manage that business listing.

If Google can’t find your business then click [None of these match – Add your Business].

 

Step 3: When you create a business page for your accommodation you are asked for your business type. IMPORTANT – As an accommodation owner you should choose [Storefront] as your business type, this provides advantages on Google Maps and Local Search.

Google business types select storefront
Google business types as accommodation select “Storefront”

As you set up your Business page you will be asked if you wish to receive a “verify code” by mail – this enables Google to be sure you are where you say you are. You can continue to create the business page and verify later. Your “verify code” can take 1-2 weeks to arrive in the post. You should take advantage of the verify feature as it gives you more options later.

Take the tour of Google My Business and then set up your contact details, location, photos and descriptions, all of which help you thrive on the Google network. It’s as simple as that, you are now Google business ready.

Google is constantly looking for new ways to enable customers to book accommodation via their website so watch this space for news of any developments.

See our earlier blog on the advantages of a Google business page . Don’t forget to add yourself to our Google+ account, our facebook page, twitter or register for our emails.

Google business page – why NOW ?

Google business pages for accommodation owners, claim yours today.

Your accommodation business with a Google business page
Get your Google business page free

A Google business page is a big free internet opportunity for independent accommodation businesses and it’s probably the most important one.

Why? Google uses the information for Google searches and on Google maps. Millions of customers use Google maps everyday and tens of billions of accommodation searches take place on Google every month.

It’s big, it’s free and it gets you seen and it also improves your listing on Google searches. In a related blog we show you how to get your Google business page.

Craigend bed and breakfast on Google business
Craigend Bed and Breakfast Google business page

Still not convinced ?

7 reasons why you need a business page today

1) Get your page before anyone else does

Someone else might register a Google business page in your name. You want to claim what’s yours so get ahead and register it for yourself so you have control over your business page.

2) Get found on Google Maps

Google maps is massive on mobiles and at the top of searches. Millions have downloaded their map app so why not get yourself on the map and catch more potential customers. The vast majority of accommodation businesses will have websites but if you don’t, then a Google business page is even more important.

3) Google make it easy to look great

It’s not just your address and contact details. You can make your page beautiful and ensure you stand out and shine, displaying your best features. Upload your best photos, descriptions and video. Google will make it all look great with their page layout and enhanced street view.

Mobile Google business page
Craigend B&B Mobile Google business page

4) Mobile is key

Google maps is one of the most downloaded mobile phone apps in history and most mobile users make extensive use of these maps on their phone. Your business page ensures you are listed

in the mobile Google map app, next to your neighbours…. who might be ahead of you!

5) Search engine optimisation

It’s a fact, your search engine ranking is improved when you have a Google business page making it easier for customers to find and book you. Your Google business page helps your search engine ranking for various local and generic searches.

6) Use Google Plus to connect with your customers

Get a Google plus account and use it on your business page to share news and engage with customers, tell the world about what you are up to and manage your reputation.

7) Business of the future

It’s expected that Google will soon launch new ways for customers to access accommodation businesses and do bookings. Your business page will be the keystone of your visibility for booking capability in future. It’s easy and quick – so make yourself accessible now, it’s also Mobile, Social and Local…. and yes, it’s FREE!

I would like to get my Google business page show me how.

Don’t forget to add yourself to our Google+ account, our facebook page, twitter or register for our emails.

TripConnect Instant Booking a Global First

Freetobook is TripConnect Instant Booking’s First Approved Partner – Worldwide first in technology.

TripConnect Premium Partner
TripConnect Premium Partner

Press release (September 15 2014 – Glasgow)

Freetobook, one of the UK’s leading travel technology companies, announced today that it is the first Internet Booking Engine to be a fully approved and certified partner for the upcoming TripConnect instant booking feature from TripAdvisor.

TripConnect instant booking is being developed to increase direct bookings for independent hotels and scheduled to launch officially later this year. This instant booking will enable accommodation owners worldwide to leverage approved connectivity partners, such as Freetobook, to update rates and availability and take bookings directly into their online diary.

The TripConnect instant booking API has been approved and tested and Freetobook will enrol a select few customers in a live beta test ahead of the full launch when the feature will be available to the global independent hotel sector.

Its exciting to be at the forefront of this new development. We are looking forward to getting our customers’ feedback in the first instance before TripConnect instant booking is rolled out globally,” says freetobook’s Director Iain Stewart. “

Other blogs and links about freetobook TripAdvisor connection

What is TripConnect ?

More TripAdvisor reviews automatically

What is Trip Connect the video ?

Guestlink channel connection

New channel manager link with Guestlink will be live shortly.

Guestlink channel manager connection
Guestlink channel manager connection

Our UK customers will soon be able to access even more distribution.

Guestlink is based in the UK and they power a number of big destination websites. These include golakes and VisitYork . If your accommodation is in any of these locations you can list on their websites subject to their conditions.

UK Channels Manager for Guestlink
Some of the Guestlink Destination Management Areas

This Guestlink connection adds to the growing collection of connections available with freetobook’s channel manager. Keep an eye on our email updates, blog, facebook and twitter pages where we will let you know the go live date.

 

You can already enjoy connections with the following channels on the freetobook channel manager.

Channel Manager
Channel Manager

We continue to grow the connections as our customers are always looking for new ways to be seen and generate bookings.

Our channel manager is a plus service that freetobook customers can opt into. If you don’t yet have an account it’s easy and free to get one today. Join the thousands of properties enjoying our services….find out more at freetobook

Reply to reviews for a 21% booking boost

Say something back to your customers

TripAdvisor research* finds that accommodation owners that respond to their reviews benefit with more booking enquiries, they say 21% more likely.

Ever been an ignored customer at a coffee bar or restaurant, seen but just not important enough to respond to? Well that’s how it looks when a customer reads your reviews and finds no responses. They have to assume you don’t care as much as the properties that do take the time to respond.

Perhaps you are extremely busy or don’t need the bookings, so just like the coffee bar,  ignored customers will go and find somewhere they believe does care. According to TripAdvisor’s research it’s exactly what happens, they say up to 21% more bookings go to properties that take the time to respond.

When you do answer reviews (both the good and bad) it *shows* …..bang ! right there and then in front of them – this accommodation is engaged, caring, listening. Displaying this level of engagement is of course

Review sharing widget for hotels

quite different from just *saying* it on your website or in emails.  If you really want customers to believe it then you have to find ways of *showing* it. The ability to respond to reviews is a marketing gift so use it to show how engaged you are.

You might not love TripAdvisor but can you afford to ignore them ? They undoubtedly have a vested interest in getting you, the property owner, to engage with their site (respond to reviews) but even with this in mind we still agree that reviews count.

At freetobook we have been developing review and feedback technology for years, you can already tweet, facebook or place your freetobook reviews on your website and of course you can respond to them. Our customers can make full use of these and many more functions in their “Home” tab by clicking “Reviews” on the orange bar. If you are not yet a customer, what are you waiting for? Join up today for free, no risk and let us show you what you are missing at freetobook.

Related blog articles from the past

Share your reviews online for direct bookings

10 Tips on managing good and bad reviews

Customer reviews a winning strategies

Review Express by TripAdvisor

* TripAdvisor press release Sep 3, 2014