How to Differentiate From Local Competitors Online
To drive more online reservations this year, you can’t just launch a great website. To be successful, you also have to effectively and proactively compete against other properties and hotels in your area.
So how do you do it?
It really comes down to a few things at the end of the day:
- Goal #1: Help your website visitors understand what makes your resort different and better than others.
- Goal #2: Persuade your website visitors to book with you instead of the other guy.
- Goal #3: Make conversion incredibly easy for anyone who lands on your website.
Here’s the problem: it’s not always easy to know what you should be specifically focusing on in order to march toward those three goals mentioned above. There are a lot of paths you can take to achieve success.
If you’re like a lot of other property managers and not sure exactly where to start, don’t be discouraged—just keep reading. In this post, you’ll discover 5 simple and actionable recommendations that can help you differentiate from local competitors and drive more online reservations in the months ahead.
1. Be Present
When it comes to differentiating from other resorts in your area, the most important thing you can do is show online users that you are present, willing to participate in conversations, and eager to interact with would-be guests. Your ultimate goal is making the people who find your resort on Google, Facebook, Twitter, or any other channel feel like they can reach out and talk to an actual human being on your side if desired.
Being present online is more than just showing people that you’re available to interact with them though. Being present online means that you are proactive about engaging with past and future guests—that you seek out opportunities to build and nurture relationships with people who could support your business.
To be more present online, keep these best practices in mind:
- Don’t use social media to shout. Use social media apps and websites for what they were intended for—to communicate with other people. Don’t set up Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for your resort and spend all your time sharing update after update about yourself. Instead, look for ways to use social media sites to engage with guests, answer questions from would-be guests, etc. Help people understand that you are willing to be part of the conversation.
- Don’t make it hard for people to contact a real person at your resort. Some people can’t get enough information from looking through your website alone. Some visitors want more information and they want to be able to talk to an actual human being at your property to get it. To show that you’re more present, make it incredibly easy for people to find your contact information, or the contact information of one of your reservation agents, no matter where they are—your website, your Facebook page, your Twitter account, or any other channel that people are using to learn more about your resort.
- Don’t let your website age—keep it fresh with new content. To help website visitors feel like you’re still present and active in the industry, take time to develop original content for your blog. Publish blog posts that share stories, give website visitors updates about your resort, and help them understand why you think they will love traveling to your resort this year, not last year or two years ago.
2. Be Consistent
I’ve written about the importance of consistency a few times on this blog before, and it’s because I truly believe it plays an essential role in being able to differentiate from other properties and convince more people to come to your resort.
Online consumers are incredibly observant. Because of the nature of ecommerce and online bookings, they are naturally cautious. If a traveler isn’t convinced that your resort is what you say it is, or they feel at all like you’re not painting the full picture for them, they will not book a reservation with you.
A consistent presentation of your resort across multiple channels (website, emails, social media ads, listing services) allows you to show potential guests a few things:
- You are professional
- You can be trusted
- You are familiar
- Quality matters to you
- What they see and read is what they will actually get
Being consistent online isn’t difficult. All you have to do is take the time to make sure that you’re using the same or similar language, photos, and videos on your website that you show in emails and other types of marketing campaigns.
3. Be Human
One of the most important and effective ways to differentiate from others in your area is to simply come across as human when potential guests engage with your resort online. Again, trust is an issue when you’re dealing with online consumers and online travelers. It’s up to you to help website visitors overcome their objections and feel confident that they’re not just picking a good resort to stay at, but that they are also doing business with good people.
So how do you come across as human on your website?
To start, don’t simply be an advertisement to people who land on your website. Your ultimate goal is obviously to get people to book reservations at your resort, but it should never be the only thing you focus on when building or updating your website. To come across as human and convince people that you’re more interested in helping them create amazing memories, follow these recommendations:
- Tell real stories about real people on your website. I write about this a lot, because it works. Take the time to capture and write compelling stories about your resort, your employees, and your guests, and share them on your website and in your marketing campaigns.
- Be reachable. I already hit on this earlier in the post, but it’s worth mentioning again: make sure it’s easy for potential guests to get a hold of you. Feature a phone number that interested travelers can easily find and call, offer live chat, and make contacting you by email as easy as possible.
- Get personal. Take the time to let people know who you and your staff are. Help them understand why you do what you do, and what they can expect from you when they stay at your resort. Help people get to know you so that when they walk through your doors for the first time to check-in, they already feel like they’re at home.
People want to do business with people, not websites. Help your website visitors understand who you are and why they should choose to book with you over anyone else in the area. Here are some additional ideas on how to humanize your online presence.
4. Be Specific About What Makes You Different
To draw more travelers in, think about what makes you different than other resorts in the area. Be as specific as possible and try to carve out a niche that you can use to set your property apart. You likely already have a fairly good idea of what makes you different and how to use it to attract more guests, but if you’re not sure, run through the following questions and try to come up with answers for each:
- What are the top 3 things that make you different from other resorts?
- If you had to give a 30-second elevator speech to a stranger about your resort, what would you focus on? What would you leave out?
- Are there any unique aspects about your resort that people specifically come to see or experience?
- Is there a certain demographic that you typically try to target based on the accommodations and amenities you offer (spas, hiking trails, pools, fitness, golf, etc.)?
- Are there things you do or things you offer that you know for a fact other resorts and properties in your area don’t offer?
Once you know the answers to these questions, start incorporating them into your website copy, into your email campaigns, into your videos, and into the descriptions you write for social media pages and listing websites.
5. Get Happy Guests Involved
To convince travelers to book stays at your resorts, don’t overload them with promotional messaging and conversion-driven copy—let your happy customers do the selling for you. You can do this by encouraging guests to:
- Leave reviews about their stay on your website
- Post photos and videos of their stay on your social media pages
- Email you stories about their stay that you can use in marketing material
Here is a great example by Woodloch Resort on how to get guests involved. Remember, it comes back to building trust. Your potential guests want to believe that they can trust you and that they will get what you’re promising. Help them overcome any objections or hesitations that they have by giving them access to feedback from happy guests who have stayed with you in the past.
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