It can be difficult for moteliers to get specialist business advice and reassurance. Moteliers will often rely upon trade associations to fill this gap and often this will be in the form of referrals to long-time operators that are willing to share their experience.
There is a demand from the motel industry for business advice and luckily there are numerous self-opinionated moteliers that are willing to qualify their past business decisions to others. This freely given mentoring comes with no strings attached and often suits a hard core of needy moteliers that notoriously have short arms and long pockets. Cue the old adage - the value of free advice is worth exactly what you paid for it.
There is a place for an independent professional company that gives information on buying a motel through to running it successfully and exiting smoothly - that's where our latest sponsors, The Motel Guru come in!
In her recent client newsletter, Stef Haami from The Motel Guru offers some down-to-earth practical advice to moteliers when dealing with Online Travel Agencies:
"There's a heated debate going on around the pros & cons that come with online booking companies.
The big debate focuses on the fact that you do get massive exposure but they take a cut on every booking, reducing your profit margin.
In response, we’ve put together a quick checklist of what you can do to benefit from the positives of this new online phenomenon.
The key is to get pro-active and leverage off the good points of Online Travel Agents (OTA’s).
If a potential visitor is actively looking, and your motel comes up, they will check you out.
Ask yourself – Is it clear who I am targeting with this particular OTA? (Families, tourists, business travellers etc.)
Each of these groups has nuances that make certain motel offerings and qualities really appeal to them. The clearer you are on who you are looking for, the easier it will be for them to find you.
Once they’ve chosen to stay with you, your next goal is getting them to stay again (this time booking directly with you).
In order to do this, your online presence must be visible and be as user friendly as possible – if they are already comfortable booking accommodation online, chances are they will keep doing it.
Educate your clients
Ask your clients why they chose to book with the OTA. You could simply say “we’re doing market research on our most effective marketing channels, can I ask why you chose to book with.....”. This valuable feedback will help you understand what drives your customer.
Let them know if they book directly with you they will get best rate (if this is your policy). Sometimes customers choose to use OTA’s like wotif because they feel they are getting a better rate than booking directly with a property.
Make sure your website is up to scratch
Can they book directly with you?
Are you advertising best prices on your website or can they go somewhere else and get a better rate?
Look at your photos, are they current and are they appealing and engaging for your potential client? Could you replace your current photos with better ones?
Test the usability of your website - If you find it frustrating, your visitors will too
Sit down and look at your website as if you’ve never been there before. Is it intuitive? They should almost feel like you are holding their hand and guiding them through the process on your website.
Is it clear how they can book with you? Is there booking ability on each page?
If someone wanted to call you, can they find your phone number on each page?
Claim your listings on travel review and business directory websites – This will improve your visibility online
Business directory listings (like Finda) are free, and they rank highly on Google. Check the information and edit it to highlight your Points Of Difference (POD).
Check your reviews and ratings. Engage with clients on all reviews good or bad. Value Feedback.
Don’t forget to register for new review alerts so you know every time your motel is mentioned.
If improving the ways you communicate with your customers is on your to-do list, ask us about our upcoming business communication course. We cover off things like: How to respond to online reviews, what makes an effective website and how to write sales letters and emails that get results. Email me for more information."