In the past few decades, the rise of third-party online travel agencies has reflected a gradual decline in direct bookings. Customers nowadays trust big names like Expedia, Booking.com, or Hotels.com more than an actual hotel website. However, you can still implement strategies to increase direct bookings and create a better bottom line for your property.
In this blog, we have compiled five tips to boost direct bookings.
But first, what are direct bookings?
Direct bookings are reservations made directly with the hotel rather than through a third-party online travel agency (OTA). Direct bookings can be made through the hotel’s website, by phone, or in person at the hotel.
What are the benefits of direct bookings for a hotel?
- Higher profit margins, as the hotel does not need to pay commission to an OTA.
- More control over room rates and inventory
- Increases opportunities to upsell guests on additional services and amenities
- The ability to collect guest data and build a direct relationship with guests
How can you boost direct bookings for your hotel business?
There are several strategies that hotels can use to encourage direct bookings and generate more revenue.
- Implement a customized booking engine:
Unlike OTAs, direct booking engines allow you to customize bookings according to your fonts, logo, and your property’s branding. With custom booking engines, you can create an effective reservation flow that can increase conversions. You can also track the performance of your booking page through integrations such as Google Analytics. When choosing a booking engine for your property, ensure it is mobile-responsive to support any screen size, and device types guests may use to make reservations.
- Mark your presence on Metasearch:
Metasearch sites are an excellent way to enhance your hotel’s online visibility. Sites like TripAdvisor, Kayak, and Trivago are different from OTAs.They work on a cost-per-click (CPC) model, making it easy to generate demand as per your hotel’s requirements. Metasearch platforms lead users to your website, where they can directly make reservations for their travel.
- Improve your guests’ experience:
A streamlined guest experience directly impacts guests’ overall satisfaction and the likelihood of returning to the hotel or recommending it to others. To improve guest experience, hotels can focus on providing personalized service, a clean and comfortable environment, and easy access to information and amenities. A dedicated mobile app can enable express check-ins, keyless entries, and on-demand concierge services. Additionally, you can employ a hotel CRM to give hoteliers easy-to-use tools that facilitate and automate their operations.
- Reward your loyal guests:
Loyal guests can be of two types: those who trust direct bookings more than OTAs. Others include frequent guests who depend on your name to enjoy their stay. To mark your glory in the market, you should reward both guests by giving lower prices to those directly approaching you.
Ideally, the direct booking rates should always be less than the ones mentioned in OTAs, giving guests more incentive to book directly through your website. Another way to reward guests could be through dedicated loyalty programs, compelling discounts, and offers for “members only.” Guests appreciate personalized offers and are more likely to refer friends and family to your hotel.
- Use Digital Marketing & Social Media to increase direct bookings:
An effective strategy to create awareness of your hotel is to utilize various digital marketing channels. You can use email marketing and social media to spread information about your offers and provide an added incentive to book directly through your website. Encourage guests to share photographs of themselves enjoying their stay by creating a unique hashtag and then reshare the content your guests post. You can also provide exclusive packages for your social media followers and email lists. While direct bookings are more profitable than OTAs, you must be careful in assessing which channels bring in the most revenue. Increasing direct bookings needs consistent effort through implementing various strategies such as customizing your booking engine, listing your hotel on metasearch websites, and digital marketing. Remember that you will need to track the ROI of these methods to ensure a winning strategy.
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