Increasing direct bookings would be one of the most rewarding (but just as challenging) tasks for any hotelier. Given the vast market size and share of third party booking sites, it is becoming in increasingly important for hotels to work towards maintain the right balance between OTA bookings and direct bookings.
There’s no denying the role of OTAs in getting you more bookings. However, increasing direct bookings is better for your hotel business simply because it helps you minimize the cost of OTA intermediation. After all, 20% saved is 20% earned! Keeping this simple fact in mind, here are some tips to boost your hotel’s direct bookings.
1. Optimize your website
When we talk about how to increase direct bookings, your hotel’s website plays a crucial role. It must have a strong digital identity to attract maximum visitors. Your hotel website should be visually attractive, easy to navigate and above all it should be user-friendly.
It should be properly optimized for search engines. This makes your hotel website more visible on search engines, thus attracting increased visitors. You must consider using relevant content in your website to garner organic traffic to your website. Most importantly, your hotel website should be mobile responsive. Because, bookings coming from mobile devices is expected to shoot to around 35% in 2018. That’s a substantial jump considering that it was at 8% till as recent as 2017!
Your website should not take long time to load.
According to Tnooz, 32% of bookings on mobile devices are abandoned due to slow loading time.
Around 30% will abandon a transaction due to poor mobile responsiveness.
This could lead to around 10% reduction in direct booking conversion
Make your reservation phone number or mail id clickable on all the pages .It would help a guest to click and call or write a mail to your reservation department directly from his phone. You should have a clear call to action button, too.
2. Incorporate a booking engine into your website
Integrating a web booking engine into your brand website enables your website visitors to view the availability of rooms in real time. This real-time information made available to them is one of the easiest ways to increase direct hotel bookings. Guests would even receive instant confirmation against their bookings directly from your hotel PMS. This enhances a guest’s confidence that the hotel would definitely honour the booking.
3. Promote positive guest reviews on your website
Almost 98% of travellers read hotel reviews and 80% of them consider them extremely important before making the final reservation. Good reviews can influence a traveller’s booking decision in a big way. This is why it is paramount to strategically position and promote positive guest reviews on your website. It should be visible throughout all the pages till a visitor is done with the whole booking process.
Go a step further than just collecting reviews. Proactively follow up on reviews and respond to them; especially the bad ones. This communicates to prospective guests that you are a brand that cares for your guests and will definitely fetch you a brownie point.
4. Entice your website visitor with offers or freebies
Once visitors are on your website, you can give them compelling reasons to book directly with you. Clearly mention the kind of perks they are entitled to if they make direct bookings. Here are some of the examples – ‘Book with us directly & get 10% off on your F&B bill’, ‘Book with us directly to avail an easy room upgrade facility’ etc. Everybody wants more and hotel guests are no exception to this. According to Skift, around 45% of travellers consider offers and perks important to make booking.
5. Handle booking abandonment tactfully
Are your prospective guests leaving your website at the search stage? They come all the way to the booking page by keying-in their mail id and phone number, but don’t hit the ‘Book Now’ or ‘Pay’ button? This is not good if you are looking to boost your hotel’s direct bookings.
Gather insights from their journey on your website. Take a close look at what kind of rooms they looked at before leaving your website. Write to them or call them, try to help them if they express their concern over the price of the room. Offer them best possible rate and tell them how booking directly with you can also get them a free breakfast during the stay. This type of personalized approach will bring them back to your property.
6. Offer loyalty programs
Incentivize your guests with loyalty programs to book direct with you. Tell them that they can earn points that can be easily redeemed not only at your hotel, but also at outlets of their choice. This will not only a great hotel direct booking strategy, but also something that will help build a long-term association with your guests.
7. Enable booking via Facebook
Offer an easier booking process to travellers via social media platforms like Facebook. Implement a booking engine that can be integrated with your brand’s Facebook page. It would help travellers to book direct with you from your hotel’s Facebook page.
8. Grow your presence on metasearch engines
According to Trivago, around 50% of all online bookers use metasearch to find their ideal hotel, and this trend is set to go up in coming years Metasearch engine helps travellers doing an informed hotel reservation by allowing them to compare a hotel’s price listed on several OTAs. It also shows the price mentioned on hotel website. This prompts a traveller to visit the hotel’s brand website, thus giving a boost to direct booking.
Knowing how to increase direct bookings for your hotel is one of the easiest and most effective ways of building the credibility of your brand. All it takes is little of initial effort. These were eight tips to increase direct bookings for your hotel. Have you tried any of these strategies and witnessed an increase in your hotel’s direct bookings? We’d love to know. Leave us a comment here.
Divya Bhat is a content strategist and writer with over a decade's experience in journalism and marketing. Apart from working with some of India's leading media houses, she has also worked as a French language translator. An avid Customer Experience enthusiast, she is also passionate about the Travel & Hospitality industry. You can reach out to her at email@example.com
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