Make your end of financial year easier with these four Seekom reports

Make your end of financial year easier with these four Seekom reports

Feeling frazzled with end-of-financial-year accounting looming large? Fear not: Seekom is here to save the day with a host of helpful reports designed to make it easy to get those accounting ducks in a row and flying in a tax-compliant direction.

We asked the superheroes in our support team to select the top Seekom reports for accommodation businesses navigating the end of the financial year and planning for the future. Knowledge is power – use it to your advantage!

Payments Received Report

Need to track down a payee’s name or a comment you left on a payment you received to help you reconcile and finalise your end of year accounts?The Payments Received Report makes tracking it down easy by allowing you to search through all your payment records.

A host of filters will save you time by letting you create bespoke reports to pinpoint the information you require. These filters include ‘booking reference’, ‘invoice number’, ‘payment reference’ and even ‘comments’.

Sales Report

Sometimes it can be useful to analyse your sales figures over a particular period so you can see when your business is most profitable, figure out why, and adjust your rates or services accordingly.

We created the Sales Report to give you all your sales data at a glance. It provides an itemised sales list inclusive of accommodation charges and any extra additional services, which you can filter to customise your report and hone in on details.

Unpaid Bookings Report

Keeping track of past bookings that haven’t been paid or invoiced can be a headache. That’s why we’ve created the Unpaid Bookings Report to help you identify and neatly resolve any past bookings, made by anyone, that still haven’t been invoiced or paid for.

Aside from showing uninvoiced and unpaid bookings up until the date of the report being pulled, this report can also be helpful for analysing your booking data. For example, if the number of unpaid bookings at your accommodation is increasing over time, you might want to consider incentivising advance payment by guests.

Debtors’ Report

If you worry you might miss collecting funds you’re owed specifically by corporates or online travel agents (OTAs), the Debtors’ Report is for you.

You’ll be able to see, at a glance, all outstanding balances they owe for past and future bookings, and how long their payments have been overdue. This ensures you can take action sooner rather than later – always a good thing when it comes to chasing up debts.

Don’t forget - Seekom syncs with Xero!

To make it even simpler to manage your accounts Seekom works hand-in-hand with Xero, allowing you to post invoices and credit notes directly to it. Find out more about syncing Seekom with Xero in our help guide.

At Seekom we’re always trying to make your life easier by letting you enjoy more success and less stress. We’ve created these reports to save you time and help you navigate the tax system with confidence – we hope they simplify the challenge of running your business.

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PO Box 9300, Marion Square, Wellington 6141
Phone (NZ) : +64 4 974 9588
Phone (UK) : +44 20 3835 5939
Support: support@seekom.com
Websites: webhelp@seekom.com

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 Copyright 2022 © Seekom Limited (NZ owned)

Unlocking Success: The Comprehensive Guide to SEO Benefits for Hospitality Businesses

Unlocking Success: The Comprehensive Guide to SEO Benefits for Hospitality Businesses

Introduction:

In the fiercely competitive hospitality industry, staying ahead of the curve is crucial for success. One powerful tool that can significantly boost the online presence of hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and short-term rental properties is Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

In this article, we’ll explore the key benefits of SEO for businesses in the hospitality sector, focusing on optimising the meta titles, meta description and main headings (H1 tags) on your website pages. By doing this, you will give your pages the best possible chance of appearing in the search results when a potential guest is using Google, Bing or another search engine to look for accommodation.

Meta Title

In Simple Terms: The meta title is like the headline of a book. It's the title you see in search engine results when you look for something on the internet. While it can be the same as the headline at the top of your web page, it doesn’t have to be. It is set separately, often in page settings within your website content management system.

Why It Matters: Crafting a catchy and informative meta title is important because it helps people decide if they want to click on your website. It also tells search engines what your page is about, helping them rank it properly.

Meta Description

In Simple Terms: Think of the meta description as the blurb on the back cover of a book. It's a brief summary that displays below the meta title in the search results when you are searching online, giving you a glimpse of what's inside.

Why It Matters: The meta description is your chance to convince people that your page has what they're looking for. A well-written meta description can increase the likelihood of someone clicking on your site.

H1 (Heading 1) Tag

In Simple Terms: Imagine your webpage as a document, and the H1 tag is like the main title or heading of that document. It's the big, bold title you see at the top of a page.

Why It Matters: Search engines use the H1 tag to understand the main topic of your page. It's also the first thing visitors see when they land on your page, so it should clearly tell them what the page is all about. Like a chapter title in a book, it sets the tone for what follows.

Increased Visibility and Traffic:

There are some simple but effective steps you can take to improve the meta titles, meta descriptions and h1 tags on your website. These are all quick wins and will help improve how well your website is optimised for search engines.

Meta Titles: Craft compelling and concise meta titles for each page, incorporating relevant keywords that potential guests are likely to search for. For example, "Luxurious Beachfront Hotel in [Location] – Unwind in Style".
Finding the right place to update your page’s meta title will depend on your content management system (e.g. WordPress, Squarespace, Wix etc), but it is usually found within the ‘page settings’ area for each individual web page.

Meta Description: Utilise descriptive meta description tags that encapsulate the essence of your property. Include details such as amenities, location, and unique selling points. For instance, "Ocean View Suites, Spa, Free Wi-Fi – Your Ideal Getaway".
As above, finding the right place to update the meta description for your pages will depend on your content management system. Typically, the meta description options will be found in the ‘page settings’ area for each page.

H1 Tags: Align your main page heading H1 tags with your meta titles, reinforcing the primary keyword or subject matter of your page. This creates a consistent and focused message, making it easier for search engines to understand and rank your page.

Enhanced User Experience

Reviewing your meta titles, meta descriptions and h1 tags is about more than just improving your search results. It can also provide for a better user experience. Keep these key considerations in mind when doing your SEO optimisations.

Meta Titles: Optimise meta titles not just for search engines but also for potential guests. Incorporate a call-to-action or highlight special offers to entice clicks. Example: "Book Direct for Exclusive Discounts – [Your Hotel Name]".

Meta Description: Create meta description tags that provide a snapshot of the guest experience. Include details about on-site dining, recreational activities, and nearby attractions. "Gourmet Dining, Poolside Bliss, Steps from [Landmark] – Your Dream Stay Awaits".

H1 Tags: Use H1 tags to introduce the unique experience your property offers. "Discover Unrivalled Comfort and Luxury at [Your Property Name]".

Targeted Niche Marketing

One way to differentiate your property is to target a specific niche of the accommodation market. You can really get your niche targeting humming by tailoring your meta titles, meta descriptions and h1 tags to the niche you have identified.

Meta Titles: Tailor meta titles to target specific niches within the hospitality sector. For example, "Pet-Friendly Bed and Breakfast – Pamper Your Furry Friends at [Your B&B]".

Meta Descriptions: Leverage meta description tags to highlight niche-specific amenities or services. “Cyclist-Friendly Motel – Secure Bike Storage, Repair Station, and More!”

H1 Tags: Clearly communicate your property's specialisation in the H1 tag. "Your Ultimate Cyclist Retreat – Welcome to [Your Motel]."

Local SEO Advantage

Most search engines will prioritise content that is clearly marked as being in the vicinity of the location a guest is looking for when they search online, or close to the area they are physically conducting their online search from. The meta titles, meta descriptions and h1 tags on your page can play an important role in helping search engines understand the geographic locations your accommodation property’s pages are most relevant to.

Meta Titles: Localise meta titles by including the city or region. "Charming Downtown Short-Term Rentals – Explore [City] from Your Home Away from Home."

Meta Description: Emphasise proximity to local attractions, landmarks, or events. "Minutes from [Attraction] – Convenient and Cozy Short-Term Rentals."

H1 Tags: Reinforce local relevance in H1 tags. "Your Gateway to [City] – Unmatched Comfort at [Your Rentals]."

What’s the perfect length?

When it comes to length, a good rule of thumb for the meta titles, meta descriptions and H1 tags on your website is as follows:

Meta Title: Aim for 60 characters long, including spaces
Meta Description: Aim for 180 characters, including spaces
H1: There’s no limit but the more concise it is the better it is

Conclusion:

Implementing a robust SEO strategy, focusing on meta titles, meta description tags, and H1 tags, can transform the online visibility of hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and short-term rental properties. By optimising for search engines and user experience, businesses in the hospitality sector can attract more guests, enhance their online reputation, and ultimately achieve long-term success in a competitive market.

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Note: Something you may not know, is that we also build websites. Many of our customers have Seekom built, fully managed websites which we maintain, including SEO management. If you’re interested in finding out more about this, get in touch.

Contact Us

PO Box 9300, Marion Square, Wellington 6141
Phone (NZ) : +64 4 974 9588
Phone (UK) : +44 20 3835 5939
Support: support@seekom.com
Websites: webhelp@seekom.com

Connect With Us

 Copyright 2022 © Seekom Limited (NZ owned)

Picking the right integrated payment solution for your online bookings

Online bookings make up a large portion of most accommodation providers’ revenue. That’s the reason many hotels, motels and holiday parks put so much effort into ensuring the booking engine on their website is easy to use and presents their accommodation in the best possible light.

However, there is another link in the online booking chain that isn’t always given the attention it deserves, and that’s the payment solution you chose to handle online card payments.

This is the technology that ensures payments made by your guests when they make a booking are transmitted securely to a payment processor and can ultimately make it into your bank account.

There are a myriad of payment solutions available, ranging from having separate arrangements with an acquirer, payment gateway intermediary and a network, to a simple one stop shop such as SeekomPay that provides a full payment solution with seamless integration into our Seekom property management software.

The payment solution you choose can have a big impact on your balance sheet and cash flow, so it’s worth taking the time to consider a few key points when deciding which one to use.

Integrations - will the payment solution work with your existing systems?

If you’ve invested a lot of time into your website, online booking engine and other systems, you will want to make sure the payment solution you choose plays nicely with them.

There are many solutions available that can be integrated with your platform of choice. For example, Seekom works seamlessly with our SeekomPay solution and we also offer integrations with a range of other payment gateway providers.

Before you settle on your payment solution, consider the systems you currently use and make sure they offer integrations with your preferred choice.

Security – is it PCI compliant and does it protect customer card details?

According to Statista, e-commerce losses to online payment fraud were estimated at US$41 billion in 2022. For this reason, security should be high on your list.

The gold standard for security, and the one all online merchants should aspire to, is Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) compliance. PCI DSS is a set of international security regulations implemented by card schemes to safeguard credit and debit card transactions while preventing the misuse of cardholders' personal information.

Using a PCI DSS compliant payment solution means transactions are securely encrypted and appropriate steps are taken throughout the transaction chain to protect your customers, and yourself, from the impacts of fraud.

Some payment solutions also offer ‘tokenisation’, which allows a customers’ credit card details to be securely stored. This is particularly useful if you have repeat bookings at your accommodation as it means guests won’t have to enter all of their card details to pay every time they book online with you.

Another consideration is whether the payment solution uses 3D Secure 2.0. This technology analyses each transaction made on a card and gives it a risk rating. If the transaction is deemed high risk, the customer is required to provide further evidence of their identity, often by entering a password or a code sent to their personal email or mobile device. This can reduce fraud stemming from stolen cards.

Payment options – what payment methods does the solution support?

The purpose of your payment solution is to help facilitate payments from your customers, so it makes sense to consider what payment methods it supports.

Think about the credit cards your customers use and any other ways they like to pay for their bookings and choose a solution that supports those methods.

Also consider whether or not you need a physical payment terminal. Payment terminals generally attract a monthly fee, and if your guests are almost entirely booking online (and rarely pay on site), you could be saving money by setting up a virtual terminal, if this is supported by the payment solution you're considering

Simplicity - does your payment solution involve several parties, or just one?

The world of payments is complex and it helps to understand the differences between various links in the payments ‘chain’, so you can assess where you might be able to minimise unnecessary overheads and agreements with different providers.

For payments to be fully processed, there are three key components:

  1. the payment gateway, which is the secure online page where a customer enters their credit card details to complete a transaction.
  2. a merchant acquirer, which is the financial institution that processes transactions they receive from the payment gateways or your on-site terminals, on your behalf. They act as the intermediary with the ‘schemes’ (e.g. Visa, Mastercard), to approve transactions and then settle those into your bank account.
  3. The network (e.g. EFTPOS NZ or Worldline), which sits between the gateway and the merchant acquirer.

Many accommodation providers will have separate agreements with each of these entities to enable payments to be processed, and in some cases they won’t be integrated with the accommodation provider’s property management system. Other payment solutions, such as SeekomPay, facilitate all of these components, making life simpler and more often than not, saving money.

Fees – what will your payment gateway cost you?

Another consideration is cost.

Payment gateway providers typically charge a monthly fixed fee, plus a fee on each transaction they process. Usually they’ll charge a minimum monthly fee if your transactions fall below a certain threshold.

Merchant acquirers charge a merchant service fee (a percentage of the transaction value). In some cases merchant service fees are charged as a ‘blended rate’, where all card types incur the same fees, while in other cases an acquirer may charge different merchant service fees depending on the card type, i.e. a rate for domestic debit and credit cards, a rate for commercial & premium cards and then an additional loading for international cards.

Networks charge a monthly fee in New Zealand.

The fees and rates you will pay for your full payment solution can vary, so it’s worth checking what kind of impact they will have on your bottom line. It’s also worth finding out about any other hidden fees, along with potential initial setup fees.

It’s a balancing act – looking at the best merchant service fee alone might not be the best deal for you if you’re also paying fees and charges to other providers, needing up to three separate direct debit arrangements and missing other components, such as the benefits of having a solution that is fully integrated with your property management software. And remember, you can offset your merchant service fee by applying a surcharge. This is common globally, including in Australia, and is becoming more accepted in New Zealand.

Support – if something goes wrong, who can you call?

While payment solutions should run without a hitch, payments involve complex infrastructure and there is always the possibility that something could go wrong. If the worst happens, will you be able to get support or information quickly?

For New Zealand and Australian accommodation businesses, there is benefit in choosing a local provider with a support team that operates in the same time zone. You will also want to make sure you can reach them on the phone if needed – there’s nothing worse than having an urgent issue and only being able to contact support by email.

So you’ve chosen your payment solution. What’s next?

Choosing the right payment solution is the hard part, but before you can start accepting credit card payments from guests for the first time or via your new chosen solution, you'll need to complete and submit a merchant application form.

This application is a prerequisite to establishing a merchant account with your chosen payments provider, and requests information such as business profile details, owner details, processing details, and transaction information. It allows the merchant acquirer to obtain a profile about you and your business and helps them assess the merchant application for
approval.

To ensure you don’t have to stop-start when completing the application form, be prepared and make sure you have certain things on hand, such as:

  • a form of ID (e.g. driver’s licence, passport)
  • proof of bank account
  • proof of trading address
  • average transaction size and annual turnover.

Completing application forms can be a daunting task and sometimes puts people off from changing providers, even though it is financially beneficial for them. At Seekom we make this process as easy as possible by pre-completing as much of the application as possible based on discussions with our customers. All they need to do is to complete the sections that
require proof of ID, bank account and trading address.

Once done, the application will be assessed for approval. Once approved, you will be onboarded as a merchant and can soon begin accepting guest payments.

If you opt to have a separate payment gateway intermediary you’ll need to complete a separate application in addition to the merchant application. The requirements for this application are typically not as intensive as for the merchant application.

Whatever you choose, it’s worth monitoring your performance and keeping your options open as online transactions can play a large role in the success of your accommodation business. In this regard it may be helpful to choose a provider that doesn’t lock you into a long-term contract – our own SeekomPay solution is provided on an open-term agreement so you can join and leave as you please.

Interested in using SeekomPay? We are offering to waive SeekomPay sign-up fees for any businesses that join before the end of October 2023. To find out more, visit our SeekomPay page.

Contact Us

PO Box 9300, Marion Square, Wellington 6141
Phone (NZ) : +64 4 974 9588
Phone (UK) : +44 20 3835 5939
Support: support@seekom.com
Websites: webhelp@seekom.com

Connect With Us

 Copyright 2022 © Seekom Limited (NZ owned)

Stay scam savvy: keep your guard up with Seekom

While customers bear some personal responsibility for avoiding scams, it’s also crucial that companies can be relied on to safeguard the data they hold on their customers’ behalf.

After all, the last thing you want is for any credit card details or your business’ email list to be stolen by scammers and used with malevolent intent.

Data security

It can sometimes be hard to identify scams, not least because scam types and techniques are constantly evolving, but also because scammers often use psychological techniques to make it less likely for people to identify a scam.

Scammers contact their targets via all sorts of methods: text, email, phone, social media, messaging apps, fake websites, or even in person. Regardless of the scam, or how it is presented, there are some established actions you can take to reduce the likelihood of being taken in by it.

Maintain a healthy level of scepticism

Maintaining a healthy level of scepticism is no bad thing. Anyone contacting you legitimately will respect the fact you might need to ask some hard questions upfront before you are comfortable dealing with them.

Also, if you are asked for money or to confirm personal details, take some time to think before you respond. Very few situations are so urgent that you need to act straight away. If you’re not sure whether a request is legitimate, you could phone someone you trust to get an objective perspective on the situation, or Google the company’s details and contact them through their official website.

If they have emailed you, carefully check their email address - does it look suspicious or is it a slight variation on their business name (e.g. an extra character added in the middle - think @nike.com instead of @ni-ke.com)? Many banks maintain lists of known scams from people pretending to be bank staff. So it is worth keeping up to date with those as well (e.g. you can view BNZ’s ‘latest scams’ page here).

One of the more worrying approaches used by some scammers is blackmail, or demands for a ransom. In some cases this can involve claims that they have hacked your system and a threat that they will release information that is embarrassing or financially damaging if payment isn’t made, while in other cases they may demand a ransom to restore access to systems they claim to have taken control of. It is possible that your security may have been compromised, but in many instances these claims are bluffs, so don’t take all such claims at face value and get an expert to look into it.

Make sure your staff permissions are up to date and beware of attachments

If you have multiple staff using your online systems, now may be a good time to review the permissions you have in place. It’s easy to forget to update permissions when someone moves into a new role within your business, or to forget to remove their account when they leave. Undertaking regular account and permissions reviews, as well as having sound policies in place for how team members should store and protect passwords, is time well spent.

It goes without saying you should never open attachments or click on links you’re not confident are from a reliable source – you could be opening a Pandora’s box of malicious code ready to infiltrate your computer or personal device.

For more useful advice check out Consumer Protection NZ advice on avoiding scams.

And of course, always remember the ancient adage your parents might have told you: if it seems too good to be true, you’re probably about to get scammed hard.

The Auckland Transport example

In September this year, Auckland Transport suffered its second ransomware attack in a month when a group called Medusa threatened to release financial data it claimed to have stolen from the agency’s ticketing system.

The initial attack crashed Auckland Transport’s HOP card system, meaning top ups of customers’ travel cards and other HOP services had to be taken offline.

The agency responded promptly by getting their HOP card system back up and running within a short space of time. It chose not to bow down to the scammers’ ransom demands, apparently confident in the IT security safeguards it had in place to protect its customer’s financial details.

Despite making the news, Auckland Transport’s situation is an example of a business that could trust the security of its systems and therefore avoided a worst-case scenario.

Business owners are well-advised to employ the same general scam identification and handling tools in their day-to-day dealings that individuals would use.

With a chain being only as strong as its weakest link, and businesses being much juicier prizes for scammers due to the amount of personal data they might hold, businesses also need to make sure their software systems are equipped to repel cyber threats. This can avoid a worst-case scenario that gets a business in the news for all wrong reasons.

If you need detailed security advice there are many experts you can engage to help you put tools in place that are fit for purpose –there’s no one-size-fits all solution so it pays to consider your own business and the specific risks you and your users face.

What Seekom does to keep you safe

Seekom employs a host of IT security measures to stay one step ahead of scammers, eliminate cyber threats and protect the data your customers trust you to look after.

Monthly IT and cyber security health checks allow us to identify any areas for security improvement and ensure we are sticking to best practice. We engage a trusted third party to run quarterly vulnerability scans on our software to meet our PCI DSS requirements.

On top of this, strict data use and security policies for all Seekom staff are in force and we are 100% GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliant.

All Seekom’s critical systems are behind a virtual private network as well as being cloud-hosted in Amazon Web Services, giving a double layer of security. Going one step further, secure credit card storage adds another layer of ‘armour’ to minimise the risk of financial data being hacked.

We regard scam protection and cyber security as a team effort, that’s why we’re busy behind the scenes, maintaining best practice and playing our part to provide a safe and secure software platform. For more handy advice, read our recent blog on playing it safe online with Seekom.

With all these measures in place Seekom’s premium protection offers you the peace of mind to concentrate on doing what you do best – making a success out of your business.

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PO Box 9300, Marion Square, Wellington 6141
Phone (NZ) : +64 4 974 9588
Phone (UK) : +44 20 3835 5939
Support: support@seekom.com
Websites: webhelp@seekom.com

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 Copyright 2022 © Seekom Limited (NZ owned)

How to increase revenue by increasing your direct bookings

Increasing direct bookings is an extremely powerful way to increase your revenue by saving on online travel agent commission.

How to increase revenue by increasing your direct bookings

With online travel agents taking more in commission each year, the power to drive new and returning guests to your website for direct bookings, or to call you to make a booking, is where you can get the biggest slice of the revenue pie.

In this article, we’re giving you some tips and tricks on how you can maximise direct bookings and with that your bottom line.

1. Offer the best price by booking direct

It’s natural for someone planning a getaway to try and get the best rate possible for their property of choice. So, if your direct booking rate is the lowest a potential guest can find for your accommodation - you're instantly more likely to secure that guest's booking with you directly. Getting the best rate by booking direct will also positively influence the guest perception.

Offer the Best Price by Booking Direct
Offer the best price for direct bookings
Takeaway

Takeaway

To maximise direct bookings and save on channel booking commission, offer the best price for direct website or phone bookings and ensure it’s priced below what you listed your property for on other channels.

2. Make sure your website has been optimised and performs well

Make sure your website has been optimised and performs well
Make sure your website has been optimised and performs well

To ensure potential guests find your property when they’re surfing the net, you’ll need to have a website that is optimised to show at the top of the search list.

To ensure your website motivates the person to make a booking on your website rather than go back to one of the channels, there are a few things you need to do to maximise the performance of your website.

Below are some common website tips:

  • Mobile responsive website - if your website isn't mobile responsive, you're instantly losing bookings. People are increasingly using their smartphones to search websites. Having a mobile-friendly website is important for several reasons:
    • Firstly, it increases sales and conversions by allowing users to have a seamless experience which is incredibly important as it gives you an edge over other websites that aren't as mobile friendly.
    • Secondly, it affects website visitor behaviour; bad mobile experience can make you lose bookings and a good one will enhance search engine optimisation (SEO), increase conversions (bookings), and maximise time spent on your site.
    • Thirdly, it can help your business attract more smartphone users. Google suggests that 75% of their users use smartphones for visiting websites.
    • Finally, Google began giving preference to mobile-optimised sites in mobile search results since April 21, 2015.
  • Photos of your accommodation - great photos lead to more bookings. The better your photos of your property or properties are, the more direct bookings you’ll get. Consider using a professional photographer to make sure your rooms and units are captured to be engaging and inviting, enticing the guest to book with you directly.
  • Video - Why scroll through an entire website when you get an idea of the room types, property and surrounding area all in a 30 second video? That's the thinking of the market at the moment. These days everyone wants instant answers, at a glance. A video provides that quickly and efficiently. It’s also a great way to enhance your social media.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) - Google (the biggest search engine in the world) has a number of factors that rank your website against other websites. It does this to figure out what to show first to the user for their search term / query. In simple terms, the better your SEO for your website, the better you rank in Google, the higher your property is listed for queries such as "Accommodation in New Zealand" and the more direct bookings you get. There are many SEO tools out there, including some free ones, such as e UberSuggest.
  • Deals - By incentivising the user to book direct and by adding promotional deals to entice repeat visits from past guests you’re highly likely to increase conversion rates (i.e. that the user will follow through and book with you). This can be done in many ways but simple methods are ones such as “if you book direct with us, you’ll get the best rate”, "get 5% off when you book direct" or "get a free bottle of wine when you book direct" etc. We'll leave this part up to your imagination and what you can offer - but think outside the box. Local tour guides, restaurant discounts and gift baskets and free shuttle from their drop-off location are always popular. You can promote this on social media as well!
Takeaway

Takeaway

Optimise your website, use SEO, state clearly that guests will get the best rate if they book directly with you and run promotions, and you’re set up to maximise direct bookings and increase your revenue.

3. Digital Marketing

So you've got the lowest price on your website compared to other channels, you've done work on your website and have started offering incentives to book direct, but what's next?

Promoting your business online is all about ROI (Return on Investment), or in the sphere of Digital Marketing - ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). First off, lets list the basics;

Social Media Direct Bookings Seekom
Digital Marketing

The above four are the most commonly used platforms to promote your business. Each platform works differently for each business and also industry. It's always best to trial each one out using similar objectives to make sure you are using the best stack of platforms to get results.

It's also really important to have Google Analytics installed on your website. Google Analytics (or also referred to as GA) is one of the attributes used to check whether your website is web standard compliant. Not having GA, means that your website isn’t up to modern web standards set by Google and others.

Once you have GA activated, it will allow you to:

  1. gather data and metrics about what is happening on your website;
  2. see the revenue made on your website through the booking screens if you turn on the eCommerce module and link it to Seekom!
  3. track the different marketing campaigns; and
  4. make decisions on what to do next based on the data you get.

There is a bit to learn in terms of navigating Google Analytics and what the output of data actually means. But once you get familiar with the basics through some tutorials you will be able to advertise more efficiently and effectively.

Often we see that operators want to use marketing methods, but don't know where to start. We suggest either using an Agency (which can be expensive), a freelancer or learning it yourself (e.g. online courses, YouTube, and Google help. You can also use your local commerce division or other areas to get assistance which can sometimes be free.)

If you are paying someone else to do this for you, it’s worthwhile learning the basics and common terminology used. This will help you when engaging withan agency and it will assist you in determining whether you are getting a good return on investment.

Takeaway

Takeaway

Digital Marketing works! It's just a matter of finding out which methods work best for your business to give you the highest ROAS. When using Google Analytics, make sure you use or upgrade to GA4. We’ve recently written a blog about why you should upgrade to GA4  that might be helpful.

4. Google My Business

Be active on Google My Business! This is important because it’s your business profile on Google. Google My Business provides a role in where your website ranks - with some data suggesting that the greater number of reviews you get, the better your website ranking will be.

Here you can manage your hours of operation (an important query often asked by guests), reviews, photos, and other business information such as location.

Google My Business
Google My Business

If you have a guest that has had an awesome stay and communicates this to you or your staff, suggest to them to leave you a nice Google review, or even better yet put it in your post-departure SMS.

Responding to reviews in a professional manner and making sure each one is personalised has shown a strong correlation to an increase in bookings and repeat guests - your business comes across as sincere and genuine and that you've taken time out of your day to reply to them.

Takeaway

Takeaway

It’s worth while spending some effort on Google My Business as it will support improving the ranking of your business on the web and with that the chances of increased direct bookings.

5. Connect with Local Businesses

A simple method of improving your direct bookings is to connect with some local businesses in your area. For example, you could promote a certain restaurant on your website and other platforms, and they return the favour. This can lead to a few extra bookings a month - as often most people would have already booked accommodation before they are in the area - but you never know and it really costs you nothing (as long as the businesses you're referring guess to are reputable).

Connect with Local Businesses
Connect with Local Businesses
Takeaway

Takeaway

Use your networks in the community to promote each other and with that increase awareness of your property.

6. Conclusion

With so much going on it can seem like too much to handle alongside running an accommodation business. The best approach is to take it step by step rather than trying to do everything at once. Assess the points we’ve listed above to see what your priority might be and then once that’s done tackle the next one.

Add your own methods and do your own research to make sure that what you do is ‘fit for purpose’ and meets the needs of your particular property. By doing this, you’ll be on a sure path to engaging more potential guests, getting more direct bookings, and increasing your revenue.

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