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  Booking is the Keyword
   
 
 
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Nov 28, 2006
Each industry is characterized by keywords used to describe business processes or achievements. How many copies of magazines are printed and distributed, the number of units manufactured by the automobile industry – and for the hospitality industry, the figure for room bookings.

The fast-growing online travel booking business is an attractive proposition that should naturally appeal to hotels, as they can gain the most from it. Having your own hotel website is a smart jump-start that will enable you to grab more room bookings. The next thing to do is to optimize your website, for two main reasons: to become more readable by search engines (that is to say, to become “search engine-friendly”) and to be more appealing to general internet users, who will then log on for further exploration

Speaking of online bookings, when you succeed in getting your website to appear at the top of major search engine results, and reap a significant number of online visitors, you need to grab their attention and encourage them to make bookings through your website.

To include a link to a booking form or an email contact is not enough to encourage a booking, because your potential guest might have to wait for some time to be informed of the exact rates applying to his or her staying dates. Further, the same potential guest will most probably check out the hotel next door as well.

A booking engine featuring instant confirmation is highly recommended, if you really want to make your website a true “revenue gateway”. Why? Simply because guests will most likely book rooms directly with a hotel website, as opposed to trusting a third-party website. The guest feels more secure in making a direct booking at a hotel website.

Secondly, the website is yours! That translates to no commission fee whatsoever to be paid to any other party – you have no costs apart from minimal website maintenance.

Thirdly, instant confirmation of room rates and availability means no more waiting for any multiple back & forth confirmations to finally get a room booked.

In making an intelligent choice of which booking engine to use, there are many specific features to be considered. Some booking engines promise advanced features but turn out to be buggy – full of errors and confusing directions in daily operation. Others ensure you deliver precisely what your hotel promises, i.e., creating holiday packages; on the other hand, some suffer from lousy hotel back-ends that make updating rates and allotment difficult and trigger mistakes – and some may irritate a potential guest trying to make a booking. The moral of the story? Make sure you choose the right booking engine for your website!

Basic guidelines for a successful hotel website:

1. Fast-loading pages. If you wish to include a video window in your website, always show a “skip” button. For large-file images, just display a thumbnail or smaller image on your web page, with an option to click to enlarge. The reason for having a fast-loading page is that most casual Internet users will only wait for a short period, when a page is loading. If it takes too long to load, the visitor may think the connection is hanging or broken, or will just leave your website without having any idea of what it contains.

2. Build in clear and easy navigation so that a first-time visitor can browse around without becoming “lost”. The website structure must be straightforward and easy to follow. Provide a sitemap when possible. Avoid broken links or expired information.

3. Make sure to have all necessary meta-tags: title, description, keywords and all necessary coding, so that search engines can easily crawl and index your website in their database.

4. Always include website address in all promotional material, whether in magazines, brochures, or on name cards.

About Pelican

Pelican System is an internet-based central hotel reservation system with software designed for hotels to manage online reservations (whether made directly by guests or through travel agents and corporate clients).

Pelican System offers a wide range of generic products, such as a booking engine/reservation system for your website, a central reservation system and call center reservation system, all featuring customized upgrading and optional features to specially meet each hotel’s needs and requirements.

Contact Person:
Linda Husin
Marketing and Promotion Manager
www.pelicansystem.com
linda@pelicansystem.com