During the pandemic, hotels saw an increase in direct bookings. However, a large proportion of online bookings still come through online travel agencies. So how can direct bookings be increased?
How many of your bookings are generated through your own website?
During the pandemic, the hotel industry upgraded digitally. Creative offers for their own websites were also devised, resulting in an increase in direct bookings. However, the majority of bookings are still made through online travel agents (OTAs). Even though OTAs are important for the channel mix and the billboard effect, the goal should always be to increase direct bookings, as the own channels still are the most profitable ones.
But how to increase these direct bookings?
We have collected a few tips for you and are eager to hear your comments and further tips!
Create a special website which emphasizes the unique selling points of your hotel. Do not use sentences like “our hotel provides 100 cozy rooms” but replace these kind of platitudes through original and unique texts.
Does a merchant hide the offers in the last corner of his shop? No! Highlight your offers direct on the landing page – what you don’t offer, you don’t sell.
Insert so called „call to actions“ to animate your guests to book. These buttons should always be placed at the top part of your website, so your guests do not have to scroll down the page. These buttons should be adapted to the website’s style and should be highlighted in a showy colour.
Make it easy for guests to book online. OTAs show you how easy it can be! Shorten the booking process to a minimum – ideally the guest books within 2 seconds – is that the case on your web page?
Pace of your website, especially the pace of your mobile site. You certainly heard about “mobile first”! So your website should be optimized for mobile devices. As per Google, 53% of all visitors leave a webpage if the loading time is over 3 seconds!
As rate parity clauses are considered invalid in most countries, hoteliers now can decide on the distributed rates. Offer a more expensive rate on OTAs than on your own web page. On one hand side you rank first on meta search engine if you offer the best price, on the other hand the guest experiences a real advantage by booking direct through your website.
Get the control of your distribution back! There should not be any cheaper rates on the internet than on your own website (not even through wholesalers). This is how you gain the trust of your guests.
Optimize the booking experience for your guests by using many pictures, videos and 360 degree tours.
Good reviews lead to more direct bookings. Negative reviews decrease the direct bookings, as a Tripadvisor study shows. So always monitor your reviews in the internet closely, answer to special positive and negative ones and animate happy guests to post their feedback online.
Be present on social media. You are generating a recognition value of your brand! Through activity on social media and a selection of influencers who match your brand your gain visibility and improve your image. Be careful to not only post but also to answer, comment, like and share. The goal of all these activities (with ideally your own hotel Hashtags) should be more traffic on your website, which, on a long run should lead to more conversion.
Make your hotel bookable through social media.
Create your own flash sale! Instead of participation at flash sales of known providers generate your own flash sale with an email campaign to your own guest data base. To push this flash sale even further, support it with a pay per click campaign on Google.
Take your employees on board. Explain in a training how expensive OTAs really are and how important it is to increase direct bookings.
Point out that the guest should always receive the best price directly through your hotel. Employees should always emphasize this, especially when on the phone with a guest.
If on some days, upgrades have to be granted due to overbooking of room types, make sure, that the staff distributing the upgrades always picks the direct bookers first. Do not forget to communicate this upgrade reason towards the guest.
Get listed on meta search engines like Trivago. It is important to make sure, your hotel website offers the best rate. Do not invest in meta search if you do not have your distribution under control (see tip number 2). Always monitor the return on investment, as the costs of a direct booking through meta search should remain lower than the OTA commission.
Invest in Search Engine Advertisement! Your agency should provide you with good analytics. You should be able to monitor clicks, click through rates, conversions, cost of sale and the return on investment. Also here, the cost of sale should be lower than OTA commissions.