In recent years, if you don’t have a strong online presence, it’s as if you don’t exist at all. And as ever more websites and hostels come to being (in 2014, according to Qmee, each minute, 571 new websites were created and that was a year ago!), you need more and more time and energy invested in your Internet activity. Here are some ways you can reach more customers via the Internet.
According to a research conducted by Statistic brain, around 150 million bookings are made online. That’s quite a big number, don’t you think? You should make your hostel present on as many booking websites as possible, which will help you get access to more customers. Encourage your guests to write a review of their stay (especially if you are confident it will be a positive one), as more and more travelers read reviews before choosing their accommodation. Try to be active and answer on as many reviews as you can (both positive and negative ones) as this will create a sense of trust and loyalty to your customers. Furthermore, you need to keep your information up to date. For example, if they read you have a facility that is no longer there, your guests will be disappointed.
With all those booking sites, it’s hard to keep track of all the bookings being made and information that needs to be updated. There’s a service called channel manager that helps you with it for an affordable fee (click here to read our in-depth post on what’s a channel manager and how it works). What channel manager does for you is help you coordinate all your accounts on all those different booking sites. You have one simple-to-use user interface which helps you organize. For instance, when someone books a place in your hostel, you need to update the vacancy of your rooms on all websites. With channel manager, that happens automatically and it prevents overbooking.
Social media are rapidly becoming a primary advertising and marketing tool. You need to create a profile page for your hostel (at least on Facebook) and interact with your customers. Post daily some interesting and original content with which you should endear yourself to your audience. Also, post positive reviews from booking sites that may encourage the travelers to stay in your place. Lastly, you should always be quick to respond politely and informatively to those who decide to contact you via social media, whatever the tone of their message.
Search and local engine optimization
We will offer you some numbers here just to get the gist of why this is so important. When people type in anything in Google, the first result gets 35% of all clicks and with each step down the percentage gets drastically lower. The whole second page of the search (websites ranked in places 11-20) gets less than 6%! So now you know just how crucial it is to get on that first page and high up as possible. There are extensive guides by the experts in this area on how to optimize your SEO (for example, take a look at hobo-web’s tutorial) and here we will give you some simple advice.
First of all, use keywords. Keywords are what most people type in their search bar. You need to use these keywords in your website texts so that they will pop up in search (don’t overdo it as there are penalties for keyword stuffing).
Secondly, let’s say someone types in ‘hostels in Prague’ – they will see some hostels separated from websites. Those are Google Places, and if you want to be one of those (and you do), you need to create a Google Places listing and work your way up by gathering reviews and thoughtfully using keywords.
What strategies do you use to improve your online presence? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.