When it comes to the number of bookings it reaches every year, the Croatian tourism sector plays an increasingly prominent role on the global, and especially on the European stage.
The main reason for that are the conditions we have been blessed with, namely our geographical location in the Mediterranean, right next to Italy, one of the world’s champions of tourism of all types, and the fact that we are also located in Central Europe, meaning that Croatia is easily accessible to those emissive markets by car.
Therefore, the stakeholders of our tourism – hotels, campsites, and private renters – found themselves in a unique position in our economy, as there is a high demand for their products and services unlike, unfortunately, for those of the vast majority of other stakeholders of the Croatian economy.
In terms of sales through digital channels, this means that the average Croatian hotel or campsite does not need to invest that much effort into its branding to explain to a potential customer why they should buy its services. The customer is actually already at the stage where they want to use our services, we just need to communicate to them in the right manner and at the right moment why they should choose us.
And believe us, many businesses that are not engaged in tourism would pay a pretty penny to be in that position.
However, let’s not focus on the troubles of the sectors not engaged in tourism, and let’s talk about the favourable position our tourism sector found itself in while focusing on the context of direct sales through digital channels.
First of all, let’s start with a simple comparison of profitability between the well-known OTA channels and direct sales with the help of a performance digital agency.
Let’s say an OTA channel takes a commission in the amount of 18%.
If the generated turnover amounts to HRK 1,000,000, your earnings will amount to HRK 820,000.
Direct sales through advertising
If the generated income amounts to HRK 1,000,000, the investment amounts to HRK 100,000, and the agency fee to HRK 15,000, you will earn HRK 885,000.
In conclusion, direct sales win with HRK 65,000 more profit.
It is important to emphasize that, during the booking season, which starts as early as mid-January, the return on investment is often 20 times higher than the investment itself.
Let’s calculate this (assuming that the generated income is again 1,000,000): if HRK 50,000 are invested, and the agency fee is still HRK 15,000, we get a net profit in the amount of HRK 935,000, which is a significant difference amounting to HRK 115,000 for just one month.
In order to achieve these numbers, some preparation is required, and we will briefly list and explain it below:
Your website needs to be optimized for mobile devices (i.e. responsive), as you will have significantly more visits from mobile devices.
It must be localized into the languages of your outbound markets – this will greatly increase the average booking rate (the number of people who, when visiting your website, actually book accommodation relative to all the people only visiting the website).
The website needs to have a booking engine that does not look completely different from the overall touch and feel of your website and brand; otherwise, potential guests will be easily confused and think that they are no longer booking with you, and in the end, they will not book with you.
The website should faithfully convey all the advantages of your accommodation and the destination, as guests want additional amenities that will enrich their stay.
Quality analytics regarding your website visitors (i.e. customer journey) is the basis of every advertising and sales strategy.
Advertising without analytics is unprofitable, rather focus on more traditional booking sources.
If you have an agency or an in-house team, always set specific goals that need to be reached so that you can optimize your campaigns in that direction.
Planning the content, trade and marketing calendar is crucial here given the pronounced seasonality of our tourism. Bearing in mind that the season of intense booking in Croatia is quite short, just imagine the opportunity costs of being, for instance, a month late with some promotions or technical prerequisites.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to stick out from the crowd full of other providers who are also present on the digital channels where you advertise your services, so try going beyond the standard framework of a beautiful pool or a beach with cocktails, get creative when it comes to design, and stand out using something unexpected.
(You can find an example of boring and unnoticeable creativity below: )
Today, guests are doing more and more research, and they often need some kind of social proof, which is available based on your activity on social media and interaction with satisfied customers.
When someone from a faraway country decides they might really book accommodation at your hotel, which is just as beautiful as the other hotels right next to you, online reviews often become crucial.
Remember, users read the worst reviews first, so it’s imperative that you respond to all negative and positive reviews.
Work actively on a strategy of collecting positive reviews and stand out from the crowd as a top host. One of the easiest strategies is to motivate guests to, if they are satisfied with your services, actually share that with the world in a review, and get a free cocktail at the hotel bar or a 10% discount on their next visit in return.
Having the consent from loyal or potential guests to directly send them promotional material or inform them about new things your hotel or campsite offers is quite a valuable asset in the hands of the wise and diligent. With a smart strategy, a great chunk of your capacities can be booked, and the investment required for that is quite negligible.
Therefore, collect emails diligently, save them in special segments, and get to enjoy the profitability of this channel!
SEO – Search Engine Optimization:
SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) implies a set of actions on your website (on-site SEO) and off it (off-site SEO) that enable you to achieve visible positions (we are talking mainly about page 1 of search results). There is a joke that goes: “Where is the best place to bury a dead body if you don’t want anyone to find it?” On page 2 of Google search results. 😊).
SEO requires a lot of work and a strategy when it comes to the content on your website, and the results are visible only after a few months, but they are also extremely important as they provide you with independence from paid channels, which should be the chosen strategy of every serious tourism business.
In conclusion, direct sales through digital channels offer a whole range of advantages, but this truly does require a whole range of specific skills, a smart strategy, and constant work.
Once they are up and running, direct sales through digital channels become by far the most profitable and sustainable source of income for your tourism business, so roll up your sleeves and make sure not to miss this opportunity!