Website optimization is a very important topic for hotel ecommerce managers, since direct sales are typically yield the highest profits for most hotels. Additionally, selling through your own website provides the opportunity to control the buying experience and build brand loyalty.
This probably does not come as a surprise to you, but what is new is the growing opportunities for using reviews and user-generated content for increasing the number of people coming to your site and converting more of those visitors into sales.
Guest reviews can help your hotels achieve more website sales two ways:
- Indirectly: by increasing rankings in search engines, bringing more traffic to your website
- Directly: by displaying reviews to keep people on your site and increase sales conversion rates
Increasing direct sales through more website traffic
For a long time, the primary benefit of using reviews for search engine optimization was that it provided a source of fresh content – something that search engines have always loved. Now, there are additional benefits as search engines begin to use reviews and UGC as a key factor in how they rank web pages.
Google, Bing and other search engines have been significantly increasing social integration in recent months, and I recommend you read this article on AdAge that covers this whole trend.
Recent Google patents unveil some ways that social media will affect your position in their search results pages. Andrew Shotland posted exerpts and a very interesting analysis, but basically:
- the quality (score) and quantity of your reviews,
- the diversity of websites that contain customer reviews,
- and the sentiment behind the customer reviews
…all play an important role in increasing search engine visibility.
Why is search placement important?
Web search plays a central role in the travel planning and purchase process. One interesting statistic shared EyeForTravel’s Travel Distribution Summit in London was that travel purchases online typically involve 50+ search queries and an average of 2.5 hours of research time.
Each of these searches is an opportunity to introduce your brand….if people see your website.
A few statistics from Hubspot to remember about the importance of ranking well in search results pages:
- The top 3 results get 79% of the total clicks
- Only 3% of searchers go beyond the first page of results pages
Clearly, your hotels’ placement in search results plays a disproportionate role in website traffic they will receive. If your websites are not near the top of page one of a search results page, the website is practically invisible to potential guests. The key takeaway here is to invest in building your social media presence and cultivating as many online customer reviews as you can to increase your ranking and drive more website traffic.
Increasing direct sales through higher conversion rates
Publishing guest reviews to build consumer confidence that leads to higher sales conversion rates. According to emarketer research, consumer reviews are trusted 12 times more than company descriptions.
This approach of building confidence is particularly important for small and independent hotels that may not have the recognition of a large chain brand. Business travelers in particular tend to choose large hotels because chain brands offer a consistent experience. The chance of having a terrible experience is lower. Developing a positive online reputation increases confidence that your hotel has been approved by dozens of other travelers. Trust is established through credibility, and credibility is best built through the words of others.
When positive reviews are placed on a hotel website, they increase consumer confidence and keep people on the site. The ReviewPro Quality Seal was designed specifically with this purpose in mind – to increase direct sales on your website by publishing reviews. (You can read the details here.)
Reviews and user-generated content increase direct sales at each stage
- Driving traffic more traffic to your site (through search visibility)
- Keeping the visitors on your site (publishing reviews eliminates the need to leave)
- Turning more visitors into buyers (testimonials build confidence levels)
Test these concepts for yourself and measure the results through time on site, bounce rates, page exit rates, and ultimately, direct sales numbers.
If you want to know how to encourage guest reviews for your hotel, take a look to our guide:
Download: How to Encourage Guest Reviews for your Hotel