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Visit Scotland | Alba

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The majority of people plan and book their holidays online. In this article you will learn:

You may already be using some of these tools, but the video will let you see what options are available to make it simpler for your accommodation business to be discoverable and bookable, reaching new markets and potential visitors.

How to be discoverable and bookable

For maximum impact online, your business needs to be discoverable and bookable

It’s also important to tackle both together. There’s no point in allowing customers to book online if they don’t know you exist. It also doesn’t work to attract large numbers of customers online if they can’t book online. 

What do we mean by discoverable?

Oxford English Dictionary defines discoverable as ‘(of online content) tending or designed to be easily found by users via a search engine, within an application, or on a website’. 

It’s about how easy it is for a user to find your business online. Whether that’s when they’re searching generally, for example 'hostels in Edinburgh', or specifically for the name of your business.

What do we mean by bookable?

This is about whether a customer can book your accommodation online prior to your arrival – regardless of whether that’s a room to sleep in, a camping pitch or a self-catering cottage. There should be no need to contact the accommodation provider to confirm the booking – every aspect is done online.

Let’s look now at what technology you can put in place to be both discoverable and bookable. You may be using certain tools already, and some will give you access to certain features but not all. The stages covered are: 

  • Stage 1 – you have a business website
  • Stage 2 – you have a business website with a web booking engine 
  • Stage 3 – you have a business website with a web booking engine, and a separate listing with an Online Travel Agent (OTA)
  • Stage 4 – you have a website and a web booking engine with channel manager functionality, distributing your accommodation availability and pricing to OTAs and metasearch sites

Choosing an online booking system

Scottish accommodation businesses should carry out investigative work to evaluate which online booking system best meets your requirements. We don’t endorse or recommend any system over another. This list represents only a small fraction of booking systems available – these booking systems do have Scottish clients or account managers working in Scotland.

Things to consider when choosing a channel manager

Some web booking engines offer access to lots of OTAs and metasearch sites with the potential to drive a large volume of customers to your website/increase bookings.

It’s best to do a bit of research to work out which OTAs are right for your business as they can increase the volume of bookings to your business but charge a commission to do so.

  • Understand what functionality your business needs and what each system provides to make sure they match up.
  • Check what OTA partnerships are in place – the three most common are, Expedia and Airbnb. For some accommodation businesses other smaller OTAs may be more suitable and more regularly used by your target audience.
  • Check what training and support is available for set up and maintenance.
  • Consider the price of using each web booking engine (and any additional costs for channel management functionality) as well as OTA commission levels before coming to a decision. Some systems will have a basic license, some may be commission-based, and some might have additional features that come with added costs.


Our top tips for being discoverable and bookable

  • Updated and available

    Get your pricing and availability updated as far ahead as possible – the further people travel, the further in advance they book. Consider one year’s availability as a minimum

  • Call to action

    Make your booking button (call to action) on your website as visible as possible at all stages of a customer’s journey through all pages on your site

  • Upselling opportunities

    Build in upselling opportunities in your shopping cart. Can customers add on breakfast, a bottle of champagne, or any extras you offer before they complete the purchase? However, keep the primary booking experience as simple as possible

  • Customer journey

    Go through the customer journey yourself on a regular basis to check for barriers or breakages. This helps you keep on top of your functionality and avoid bad experiences for potential customers

  • Analytics

    Set up ecommerce analytics and goals. This allows you to see which target audience is driving the most revenue, allowing you to invest in areas which will give you the best return

  • Stay competitive

    While direct booking is the most profitable overall, in order to stay competitive, you might need to be listed on other websites where your potential customers are searching. This is why sites such as TripAdvisor, Expedia and can be so important. Look into what your competitors are doing on those sites

Check out our video on Online Travel Agents (OTAs) for more information on how to work with them, and our video on the visitor journey to see what other digital marketing channels you should be considering. 

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