Online Travel Agency (OTA) bookings, although is a sure-fire way to fill up those extra rooms in your hotel, is not the best, in terms of adding up revenue for hoteliers.
The better alternative, of course, is to increase direct bookings.
Here are some aspects to consider when thinking about increasing your direct hotel bookings, and by extension, add to your hotel or property’s revenue bottom line.
Let’s get started! Here’s to a growth in your net revenue. Cheers!
Have a booking engine on your website
This goes without saying.
Build responsive website that is easy to use on mobile.
Let’s admit it, ‘ease’ is the magic word of the day. If your website is easy to use, and easier to make a direct booking on, why would anyone look elsewhere? Make sure the hotel website is updated and optimized for mobile phones, and voila! You’ve almost made it. Don’t forget the call-to-action ‘book now’ button!
Cut down on the clutter, devise easy steps for direct bookings, and design it to be user friendly.
Showcase ratings and reviews
Make use of your online web space to highlight guest ratings and reviews. The more reviews and star ratings, the more credible an entity you become. After all, why do you think OTAs are successful? Because they offer a comprehensive picture of the property through the eyes of those who’ve been there before. Employ the same tactic to increase your direct bookings; simply make room for stars, thumbs up, and honest reviews.
Discounts. Discounts. Discounts.
Early bird discounts, multiple-nights discounts, hot-seat rooms, flash deals… go ahead, get creative and give your guests more reasons to book directly with you.
Guarantee best price
It finally boils down to this; is there a price benefit linked to directly booking with you? Make it worth their while, offer lower priced packages for those booking directly; this will increase your direct hotel bookings. Remember, the cheapest rates should always be on your website.
Develop a loyalty programme
Think about it; your fans on social media, and the customers who’ve already stayed with you deserve to be recognized. The best way to do this, whilst also increasing direct bookings, is to offer them compelling offers combined with a point system, all for being loyal. If your message is frequent, potent and coercive enough, this will help drive your direct bookings up.
Develop your own mailing list
Your best ambassadors are probably guests who’ve already been to your property. Collect their details and send them mails with offers applicable to direct bookings. This need not only be for recurring customers, but even for potential customers. After all, who says ‘no’ to a good offer? The trick is to keep building a good customer email base; this process probably should never stop. When you have the details, you now have the currency to increase your direct bookings.
Produce interesting content
We simply mean ‘switch game-on mode’ when it comes to content marketing. Create relevant content about, perhaps things to do in and around your location, places to visit, or even tips on travel blogging and photography; anything related to travel and holidays. Get more intimate with pictures of your own hotel too. Ultimately this is what will drive new traffic through search engines; this too will increase your hotel bookings.
Get on with it, reply to queries on your social media, respond to reviews. Be quick, be hand-and-foot at service, give out the information that’s been looked for, and be prompt about it. Respond to reviews even on OTAs, because these have a higher probability of been seen widely. Get out there and be loud about it, and eventually you’ll be driving up your direct bookings.
Video is a compelling medium
Make videos about your hotel and post them up on your website and social media channels. Videos make potential customers linger a little longer on your online spaces, and this could lead them to book directly with you.
Connect all your online media
Make sure you’ve connected links on your social media to your own website, where customers can easily book themselves in. In other words, when fans see something interesting on your social media and click on it, they should be brought to your website, where the ever ready ‘book now’ button awaits their click.
Learn the magic that is remarketing
Contextual, viewer interest based advertising networks are really good places to begin. This strategy enables you to reach out to your ‘almost guests’ who abandoned their booking process mid way. It’s sometimes as easy as adding a special code to your website.
Keep their options open, online bookings, email bookings, phone calls, social media reservations, text confirmations; be prepared to handle them all. The convenience of the customers matters to increase direct bookings.
Be ready to match any rates that are lower than the rate offered on your own website. Consider offering free internet and other benefits that are not offered if guests book through OTA or a third party website.
Realize that OTAs are still important
Yes, you read that right . Being on booking.com, Expedia, Agoda and the like is still important, because these have a wider reach. If your direct booking offer is more attractive than booking through any one of the third party sites, visitors will spot you somewhere else, but will be quick to find your website online and book directly.
It’s a winning manoeuvre, don’t you think?