TripConnect Mobile Optimisation

Make the most of TripConnect Mobile bookings

TripConnect Mobile Bookings
TripConnect Mobile Bookings using freetobook

As TripAdvisor focuses on Mobile customers we think you should too. Earlier this year they reported there had been 100 million downloads* of their free mobile app. These customers use mobile phones to research holidays and some make bookings. If you are promoted on TripConnect you will convert better with freetobook’s mobile booking platform.

To optimise your freetobook mobile booking system simply login and select the TAB ”Plus” then “Mobile Booking”.  The “Deluxe Mobile Search” option will work for TripConnect or why not get a discount on the Full Mobile Package which includes a great mobile website.

Mobile Booking for accommodation Freetobook Plus Services

 

Freetobook’s mobile booking works on all mobiles and includes multi language booking. The mobile services work for all customers, not

TripAdvisor mobile page
TripAdvisor mobile page

just those on TripConnect, this means customers visiting your website using a mobile will also be able to use the optimised booking process.

We don’t charge for a connection with TripConnect….and that includes multi language booking in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portuguese.

Our mobile optimised website and/or mobile deluxe search provide great value.

Watch the video below to see how great your mobile website and mobile optimised booking process can be with freetobook.

 

freetobook mobile booking engine for tripconnect and your website (youtube)

Find out more about mobile booking and mobile websites for accommodation businesses

On mobile it’s all about the booking experience, see some examples below.

mobile website for guest house

A mobile website for guest house.

 

 

mobile booking pages for hotels

Mobile booking pages for hotels.

*TripAdvisor press release 15April2014

6 Secrets to OTA success

Secrets to OTA successLearn the 6 secrets to OTA success

Knowing the secrets of success with the Online Travel Agents OTAs can boost your direct bookings. Their web coverage is so massive that any single property will find it hard to get noticed without them. In reality the chances are that any potential customer visiting your website has already checked out your listing on the OTAs, so take a moment to learn how to leverage that coverage to your advantage.

channel manager and internet booking engine
get connected to the world

The big OTAs like Booking.com and Expedia are experts at online promotion and sales, they act a bit like a supermarket, giving customers significant choice, relevant information to help compare and an opportunity to buy simply and quickly. They have mastered the art of great online marketing, continually optimising their websites and spending billions on advertising to generate millions of bookers. Ranking high on search engines and also listing on the most popular websites like TripAdvisor make it almost certain that anyone searching for accommodation online will come across them.

The great news is that although customers visit OTAs during their search for accommodation most still choose to book direct. Take your OTA presence seriously by investing time and care to ensure it works for you. Do not be fooled into just a switching it on and letting it run, you have to drive it in the right direction.

1. Look Special: Ensure you are “attractive” on the OTA websites by having great images and plenty of them. These images must “connect” with customers on an emotional level….can they see themselves in those images? Highlight your strengths, you will be compared. By standing out you increase your chances of getting booked.

2. Know Your Targets: Understand what types of customer are finding you on the OTAs – why not ask them when you see them? Then grab the attention of those customers with the right content, your business customers may want to see free wi-fi, car parking, proximity to their destination etc. Enhance your own website to attract these customers.

3. Make Improvements: Refresh and fine tune your presence on each OTA, learning and improving all the time – nothing is static on the internet! Simplify the process of managing OTAs by using a channel manager, then spend the time you save by getting more from the connection…. put an end to tedious rate and availability updating, rather spend the time saved to add real value.

Book Direct for the best price
Book Direct for the best price

4. Drive Direct Bookings: You must have a great website, invest in fantastic images and rich content – go the extra mile.  Place your online booking process at the heart of your website, it’s got to be so easy to find and book.  Customers want it to be simple don’t confuse them or appear to offer less. Extract the maximum value from all customers, capture repeat business or referrals direct.

5. Returning Customers: Once a customer comes to you via an OTA make sure you get to know them, offer them a loyalty discount so they come back via a direct booking next time. Add the customer to your mailing list or social media channels and engage them directly.

Together for accommodation owners6. Create your own Mini OTA: When you can’t beat them make your own. Why not join up with other properties in your area to work together. You could create a website for customers to book accommodation in your location and compete with the chains and save commission using your mini OTA.

Smaller independent properties have limitations on their time and marketing budgets so it’s critical you make the most of them. The biggest advantage owner run and managed businesses have is the direct contact with their guests, it’s not something the chain hotels and OTAs can replicate.

Freetobook is a Internet Booking Engine and channel manager with many added services and connections to the world’s biggest sales systems like TripAdvisor TripConnect, Booking.com, Expedia, HostelWorld and many others. Using freetobook can greatly improve your worldwide distribution and add bookings to your bottom line : find out more about freetobook on our home page.

To find out more about what the freetobook channel manager can do for you, click the link below.freetobook channel manager

 

iCal calendar sync

iCal sync with Holiday Lettings, Airbnb, Flipkey and others

iCal calendar sync holiday lettings airbnb flipkey
iCal calendar sync holiday lettings and airbnb

Get found and get booked by keeping your calendars up to date.

iCal enables customers to see your true availability  leading to better quality enquiries, happier customers and most importantly more bookings. However, its a bore logging into all these systems and updating each one separately. The freetobook iCal service updates availability on many of the world’s big sales channels automatically.

Very recently Holiday Lettings added an iCal calendar syncing feature so freetobook’s iCal export can now be used to update airbnb, Flipkey, Wimdu, House Trip and any other systems that accept iCal imports.

How the freetobook iCal calendar updater can work for you (youtube video)

iCal calendar sync is a standard format for calendars that’s used widely to share date information. Large companies use iCal to receive simple availability data because it’s an easy, simple and basic format of calendar data. We have created a way for you to export your availability in an iCal format to these big sales systems. If you have an account with Holiday Lettings, Airbnb, FlipKey or anyone that allows iCal import you can register for our iCal service and use freetobook to export your open/closed dates.

Due to the simplicity of iCal there are limitations. You can synchronize open/closed dates but you cannot give rates, minimum stays or other data. Another very important limitation is data only goes one way, so freetobook will give you an availability feed for export but we do not import any data. This means bookings from Holiday Lettings, Wimdu, FlipKey etc. must to be added manually into freetobook to keep your diary up to date.

iCal calendar feedPart of the freetobook iCal service is a private iCal feed for all of your bookings. This  private feed can be used on your iPhone or other mobile device, enabling you to keep up with your bookings while on the go. The standard format of iCal means are many ways to view your bookings on many different calendars.

Freetobook offers both of these iCal services, just go to your TAB ”Plus” if you already have a freetobook account. If you are not with freetobook why not start TODAY and enjoy some of our many fantastic booking solutions.

Find out more about freetobook and the iCal calendar sync

channel manager and internet booking engine
get connected to the world

Freetobook is a Internet Booking Engine and channel manager with many added services and connections to the world’s biggest sales systems like TripAdvisor TripConnect, Booking.com, Expedia, HostelWorld and many others. Using freetobook can greatly improve your worldwide distribution and add bookings to your bottom line : find out more about freetobook on our home page.

To find out more about what the freetobook channel manager can do for you, click the link below.

freetobook channel manager

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

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.

iCal Airbnb Wimdu FlipKey HouseTrip

iCal for Airbnb updates
Airbnb iCal Synchronizer

iCal is a standard format for calendars, it can be used to share date information. Some big companies like Airbnb, Wimdu, FlipKey and others use iCal to receive simple availability data. They use iCal because it is easy and very simple. Because it is a very basic format of data it is also limited.

We have created a way for you to export your availability in iCal format to these big sales systems. So if you already have an account with Airbnb, FlipKey or company that allows iCal import you can register for our iCal service and use freetobook to export your open/closed dates.

synchronise via iCal calendars
Freetobook iCal updater

Because of the simplicity of iCal there are limitations. While you can synchronize open/closed dates you cannot give rates, minimum stays or other data. Another important limitation is the data only goes one way freetobook will give you an availability feed for export but we do not import any data from them. This means Wimdu, FlipKey and other sales bookings need to be added to freetobook to keep your diary up to date.

Freetobook has also created a separate iCal feed for all your bookings. This is a private feed which you can use in your iPhone or other mobile device to keep up with your bookings on the go. Because iCal is a standard format for calendar data there are many ways to view your bookings on different calendars.

Freetobook offers both of these iCal services for our customers you can find them in the TAB”Plus” if you already have a freetobook account. If not why not get one today and start enjoying some of the many fantastic booking solutions provided by freetobook.

Click to find out more about our iCal synchronization

Click to find out more about freetobook channel manager

Freetobook is a Internet Booking Engine with many added services and connections to the world’s biggest sales systems like TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Expedia, HostelWorld and many others : find out more about freetobook on our home page.

 

 

 

Mobile hotel bookings grow

Mobile hotel bookings keep growing…

Mobile Hotel Websites
Mobile hotel booking

Here at freetobook we keep an eye on industry trends and an even closer watch on trends within our own booking systems.. with thousands of accommodation owners using freetobook we have an insight into trends and that can help you improve your direct bookings.

Freetobook is a highly advanced mobile friendly internet booking system which enables all our customers to maximise their mobile bookings.

7 Mobile Booking Trends you need to know about

1. Over 10% of all availability searches on property websites are using a mobile or tablet (freetobook)

2. Mobile traffic has (in the last year) grown over 10 times faster than desktop visits (freetobook)

3. In the last three months 61% of email opens in the USA were on a mobile or tablet.

4. 25% of smartphone owners booked hotels using their smartphone

5. More than half of all travellers researching their travel plans on their smartphone

6. This year over 1 Billion people bought smartphones

7. Over 50% of all phones sold are now smartphones

Most research is now showing that customers are using multiple devices to book and research travel its fair to say the touch points with customers are diverse in time, browser and device.

Mobile Hotel Bookings
Mobile Bookings for hotels

One of my favourite quotes is “Five minutes here, two minutes there, and I booked a trip without taking a huge, long chunk of time to plan everything.” (Google 2013 Traveler report)

Freetobook has the flexibility and advanced functionality across mobile platforms so your customers can book on any device, this means you won’t lose bookings as the world of mobile changes and customers habits morph, freetobook moves ahead.

Google has recently released their 2013 Traveler report which shows Mobile booking trends and broader traveller attitudes and behaviours. For anyone interested in how travellers are interacting with the internet Google’s report is a must read. I have enclosed a link to it at the bottom of the page. Find out more about a freetobook mobile website and mobile bookings

Watch the freetobook video below and see what mobile booking can look like for your customers.

Google research study on the 2013 Traveller – get your report on this link  

Booking.com Preferred IT Provider

Freetobook is proud to have been awarded Preferred IT Provider status with Booking.com

booking.com preferred IT provider
booking.com preferred IT provider

Great Technology doesn’t just happen ! Its also rather difficult to describe but when you see it, when you use it, you just know its good. At freetobook we take considerable pride in our work and our booking system solutions are renowned for their time saving functionality and their ease of use.

Along the way we work with many technology companies and there is none more switched on to the internet and the way online booking should work than Booking.com. This is why they sell more than 500,000 room nights every 24 hours and work with over 368,000 properties in 190 countries.

From our experience most of the worlds accommodation owners are looking for ways to get more connected and enjoy more distribution, at freetobook we get this message and so does booking.com.

In business great companies will seek each other out to work together, we enjoy working with the best in the booking world and are also very proud to have it recognised in the preferred IT provider status awarded by booking.com

Find out more about the freetobook channel Manager which includes a connection with booking.com

What is TripConnect ?

TripConnect now live World-Wide for Hotels, B&Bs and Guest Houses

TripConnect Premium Partner
TripConnect Premium Partner

As of today independent hotels, bed and breakfasts from all corners of the world can advertise directly for bookings on TripAdvisor. Owners will be able to drive direct bookings with zero commission from their TripAdvisor pages. They will be able to bid for clicks on a PayPerClick basis.

This is nothing short of a revolution in the way TripAdvisor promotes accommodation, a new way to get direct bookings.

TripConnect video

If you are a property owner you can use the TripConnect system to show real-time rates and availability with a booking button for the customer to complete the booking.

What will you need for TripConnect to work ?

1. An approved Internet Booking Engine (IBE) like freetobook.

2. A business listing with TripAdvisor

3. A TripConnect account to pay for your clicks

When you have all three of the above you can set your PayPerClick budget and get started. You will be able to set a daily cap on your spend and you can do it for as long as you want. TripAdvisor will give you a forecast for monthly spend so you get an idea of costs.

What is TripConnect ?
TripConnect Premium Partner

As each booking comes in freetobook will show you that it came from TripConnect. You will also get a report from TripConnect showing your click costs and the booking revenue you achieved. This way you will be able to analyse the return on your advertising spend.

Freetobook is a Premium partner of TripConnect and can offer the service worldwide. If you already have a freetobook account you just need to contact TripConnect to setup your account. If you don’t yet work with freetobook this is an ideal time to signup.

 

 

More information on TripConnect click here

To signup with freetobook click here

To register with TripConnect click here

 

 

TripConnect PayPerClick vs Google

Hotels will switch adverts from Google to TripConnect

Google will lose PayPerClick advertising revenue to TripConnect.

Google PayPerClick vs. TripConnect
TripConnect PayPerClick vs Google

In the real world of limited marketing budgets one company’s gain will be another’s loss. The much awaited TripConnect system is a new way for properties to spend advertising money. (previous blog What is TripConnect ?)

Here at freetobook we are predicting Google will lose advertising revenue from property owners. We are already getting a significant number of property owners telling us they plan to switch their Pay Per Click budgets onto TripConnect. It makes total sense to us when you look at the logic, if your money is limited it is probably better spent on TripAdvisor’s new TripConnect system.

Why is Google Pay Per Click inferior to TripConnect ?

1.Google Pay Per Click is wasteful : TripConnect will not show adverts when the property is unavailable. The TripConnect system checks availability and rates with the properties Internet Booking Engine (IBE) before showing the advert. By comparison Google Pay Per Click adverts are not “availability dependent” and will always show, costing clicks when a property is unavailable.

2.Direct into the booking process: TripConnect puts the customer directly into the booking process cutting out wasted time spent browsing, you have all the information to make the purchase…. price, price comparison, availability and a quality ranking. A Google advert provides none of these.

3.Customer purchase point: When a potential customer is searching on TripAdvisor they are beyond the simple Google search “London Hotels” they are looking for “Which London hotel” where would you rather put your money ?

4.Easy ROI Tracking: TripConnect has built in tracking to show bookings completed alongside the costs so properties can easily tack their Return On Investment (ROI). Yes, Google has their analytics but they can require some specialist knowledge TripConnect tells a property what they want to know booking revenue vs. advertising costs.

5.Content rich : A TripAdvisor TripConnect advert is on the property’s TripAdvisor page, content and context rich.

TripConnect Premium Partner
TripConnect Premium Partner

The battle for Pay Per Click advertising revenue from accommodation owners is going to get more interesting with the launch of TripConnect. The freetobook Internet Booking Engine (IBE) is a premium partner of TripConnect so all our customers will be able to participate in TripConnect right from the start.

Our guess is that Google Hotel Finder will be watching TripConnect with their data microscope, after all not even Google wants to see their click revenue start to shrink. However, the lack of connectivity to the world’s property owners, their booking engines and inferior review data are three weaknesses they would need to rectify before a realistic chase can commence on TripConnect.