Increased direct booking is a result of many collaborative efforts. And most importantly, you must strike a delicate balance between your OTA strategy and direct booking strategy. This is advisable because many potential guests come to your website after they discover your brand on an OTA platform.
Before we dig into the ways to increase hotel direct bookings, hope you’re convinced with the “Why of Direct Bookings”. If not, you can check this blog of ours that highlights the reasons to have a strategy for hotel direct bookings.
Now, let’s come to the topic – how to have a ‘book direct’ strategy?
How would you plan to get more direct bookings when the average hotel website conversion rate stands at below 2%, despite hoteliers spending on marketing and SEO activities?
Well, there is no definite, isolated way to drastically increase direct bookings at your hotel.
Increased direct booking is a result of many collaborative efforts.
And most importantly, you must strike a delicate balance between your OTA strategy and direct booking strategy. This is advisable because many potential guests come to your website after they discover your brand on an OTA platform.
Here are some of the tricks that can help you attract more guests to your property, directly.
1. Leverage the power of a well-optimized website
When we talk about how to increase direct booking, your hotel brand 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 visible on search engines, thus attracting increased visitors
● You must consider using relevant content on your website to garner organic traffic to your website. Direct booking coming from desktops contributes 84% of bookings.
● Implement multi-language and multi-currency features
● Allow your website visitor to explore your hotel through ‘Virtual Tour’
● Offer and ensure ‘Best Rate Guarantee’
● Most importantly, your hotel website should be mobile-responsive. Because, bookings coming from mobile devices are increasing year on year, which stands at around 10%, currently
Don’t forget to ensure that your website does 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
2. Integrate Web Booking Engine, turn your brand website into a potential source of direct booking
Integrating a web booking engine into your brand website enables your website visitors to view the availability of rooms in real-time. This is one of the easiest ways to increase direct hotel bookings. Guests could even receive instant confirmation against their bookings directly from your hotel PMS. This enhances a guest’s confidence that the hotel would definitely honor the booking.
Make sure that the booking engine can help you in –
● Processing and handling payments
● Allowing you to offer deals based on your booking rules and different payment options
3. Allow guests to book directly through your brand’s Facebook page
In today’s world of ‘social media frenzy’, leading platforms like Facebook play a major role in increasing your hotel’s brand awareness and presence across the globe. Guests are not only sharing their hotel stay experience and photos on Facebook, but are also using these platforms to book their accommodation.
Adopt a booking engine that can be integrated with your brand’s Facebook page. It would help travelers to book directly with you from your hotel’s Facebook page. Plus, you need to promote positive reviews to attract potential bookers.
Here is how Facebook plays a crucial role –
● 76% of travelers post their vacation photos and reviews regularly
● Around 52% of Facebook users say that their friends’ photos inspire their travel plan
4. 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 engines help travellers make an informed hotel reservation by allowing them to compare a hotel’s price listed on several OTAs. It also shows the price mentioned on the hotel website.
Now, here is the trick – promote your website rates on metasearch. This would prompt a traveler to visit the hotel’s brand website, thus giving a boost to direct booking.
5. Increase your hotel’ online reputation
Almost 98% of travelers read hotel reviews and 80% of them consider them extremely important before making the final reservation. Good reviews can influence a traveler’s booking decision in a big way. Additionally, a one-point increase in a hotel’s average user rating on a 5-point scale (eg, 3.8 to 4.8) makes potential customers 13.5% more likely to book that hotel.
Therefore, 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.
6. Entice your website visitor with direct booking discounts
Once visitors are on your website, you can give them compelling reasons to book directly with you. Let them know that they will get more if they book with you directly. Clearly mention the kind of perks they are entitled to.
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 travelers consider offers and perks important while booking.
It’s simple – offer more value than what your guests pay, and they will love it! In other words, give back to your guests what you get to save on OTA commission. This really works when you plan to reward your guests for booking directly with you.
7. Offer loyalty programs with a difference
Customer experience is not a myth! It is a revolution that is fast conquering every business type, across all industries. Offering an impeccable hotel guest experience is paramount in today’s world. Guest loyalty programs are a great way to prove to your guests that you are trustworthy and that you care about your guests.
Incentivize your guests with loyalty programs to book directly with you. Tell them that they can earn points that can be easily redeemed not only at your hotel, but also at POS outlets of their choice. This is not only a great direct booking strategy for hotels, but also something that will help build a long-term association with your guests. In simple words, you win over their loyalty to get repeat business.
Consider these stats –
● Cost of sales to an existing guest can be as little as 30% of the cost of acquiring a new customer
● Existing/repeat guests are likely to spend up to 70% more at the time of booking – by opting for more expensive rooms or other non-room products/services
8. Carefully handle booking abandonment
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. Customize your booking engine in a way that lets you capture the potential booker’s name and mail id, and if possible their contact number. 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 the best possible rate and tell them how booking directly with you can also get them perks and discounts on other amenities. This type of personalized approach will bring them back to your property.
Reasons for booking abandonment
● Price is too high – 37%
● Reservation process is too long – 13%
● Encountering technical issues – 9%
9. Don’t ignore your OTA guests
Even though guests come to you via OTA, you can convert them into your direct guest. First and foremost, you need to offer them top-class services. Get hold of their personal data like phone number and mail id, etc. Be very coherent in explaining the benefits they would get if they book with directly during their next stay. Offer them on-property incentives like discounts of F&B bills and spa bills. Even a free pick up and drop to airport can help you in this.
Additionally, don’t forget ‘post stay targeting’. Send them emails and inform them how you care for them and how to make their next stay memorable.
While we have merely stated some of the ways to attract more direct bookings (you probably were familiar with some of them already!), these are definitely not the only ones. With time and technological advancements, these are bound to evolve as well, and we’ve tried to keep it as relevant as possible to the contemporary scenario. We hope you find value in this blog. Feel free to share with us your thoughts and comments.
Hotelogix Editorial Desk
Hotelogix's team of researchers and writers are constantly innovating to share the latest trends from the travel and hospitality space. Got suggestions? Write to us on email@example.com.