Hotel bookings have had a continuous change in trend in the last few years. Hotels have been losing up to 15% of their total online booking revenue to OTAs. Increasing the number of direct bookings may be the most rewarding yet a just as challenging task for any hotelier. Given the size of the huge market and the vast numbers of third party booking websites, it is becoming imperative for hotels to focus on maintaining the right balance between OTAs and direct bookings.
Even though there is no denying the role of OTAs in getting your hotel more bookings, direct bookings directly affect your top line by reducing the lost revenue in OTA commissions. While it is important to maintain a brand presence and generate revenues through OTAs, hoteliers must understand the need to innovate and bring customers directly through their website or applications. This helps in improving loyalty as well as revenue in long-term.
Increasing direct booking may not be an easy task for small or medium boutique hotels but here are three tips that can help you boost your direct bookings and increase your bottom-line revenue –
1: Focus on website optimization and conversion
When it comes to direct bookings, your hotel website plays the most important part. It must have a strong digital presence and uniqueness to attract more visitors. Ideally, the website must be visually attractive, easy to navigate, easy to load and above everything else it must have a user-friendly interface.
Along with proper optimization for search engines which will make your hotel more visible, it must have a booking engine integrated into it for booking purposes. Integrating a booking engine on the website also allows visitors to check the availability of the rooms in real time. This real-time information made available to guests is the easiest way to drive your direct bookings. The instantaneous process of getting an on-spot confirmation against their booking directly from your hotel’s PMS, will also enhance a guest’s confidence in your hotel.
2: Start Personalized and targeted marketing
Another way of increasing direct booking is by nurturing the hotel-guest relationship in a proper way. This is where automated and targeted marketing tools such as RepUp marketing gets into the picture. According to a recent survey, more than 70% of customers get frustrated when content is not targeted and personalized. In the age of cut-throat competition in the industry, it is imperative that hotels embrace personalization of content to target guests. Unfortunately, most hotels still believe “in a one size fits all” approach when it comes to email marketing, which eventually turns ineffective when it comes to attracting new guests. This approach, in the long run, hurts both the brand reputation and potential conversion.
For example, sending two versions of your Christmas newsletter, one designed to target families and the other to couples, can generate much higher open rates, conversions and eventually more revenue generation via direct bookings.”
Simple personalized emails and newsletters can generate a much higher response and a better rate of return on your campaigns. So it is imperative for hotels to embrace targeted personalization as an effective tool to drive more direct booking, otherwise, they run a high risk of losing on loyalty and recurring revenue.
3: Promote positive guest reviews on the website
A massive number of potential guests consider reviews to be extremely important before making the final reservation. Good reviews that are strategically placed and promoted on the website can influence a traveller’s booking decision in a massive way. That is why it is of utmost importance to promote positive reviews on your website where they can be visible until a potential guest is done with the whole booking process.
Going a step further than just showcasing the good reviews, it is of paramount importance that you proactively follow up and respond to the negative reviews on your website. This gives the guests an idea that as a brand you really care about your customers.
To sum it all up, generating bookings through your own website is the key factor to survive in this overtly competitive hospitality industry and even the smaller brands with the right focus on website optimization, search placement, and personalized email targeting can reduce dependency over third party OTAs by a significant margin.