A question asked very often: how do I get more direct bookings?
With OTAs taking up a big chunk of your personal revenue, any hotel, B&B or other accommodation providers will always prefer direct bookings. But how do you get more direct bookings without breaking the bank or missing out on tons of guests? Let's take a look.
The best thing to do is to tell your guests about the benefits of booking directly through your website. These need to be legitimate benefits that encourage them to quit their OTA habits. However, you don't want to get into trouble with your OTA partners. They often have strict rules about what you can and cannot say on your own website when you are also featured on theirs. It's therefore, often, a better idea to highlight freebies like airport transfers, included breakfast, or discounts on spa or restaurant services. This can be effective as most OTAs are generally unaware of these inclusions.
If you want to know more about how to attract domestic travelers to your inn, b&b, or your hotel, check this blog post.
Advantages of Direct Booking
Before we dive deeper, let's have a look at the advantages of direct bookings. With fewer costs per customer, you'll have more income and money to invest, to offer even better and more services. Some other distinct advantages are:
- Control over the sales process and the chance to build a direct relationship with your customer
- No extra commission to be paid to the OTA or a booking system
- Offers better control over customer’s experience ensuring you deliver a higher level of customer satisfaction
- Allows you to get direct future bookings and referrals from the customer
- Having all the guest's details gives you way more opportunity to get in touch with them again at a later stage
Although integrating your own booking system has its costs, you cannot miss out on the opportunity of an online presence. The recommended approach for boosting your chances to generate direct bookings include:
- Invest in enhancing your online presence. Have a good booking system, a mobile-friendly website, and easy navigation set-up
- Online marketing to increase the exposure of your accommodation, hotel, or B&B. Make sure your photos are pure eye-candy!
- Work with partners to cross-promote your place, like travel operators, regional organizations, business venues, and so on.
Benefits of working with partners
Working with regional or local partners is a great idea. You can go and search for free options, like cross-promoting a local tour provider or a business venue. You promote them on your channels and website, and they do the same for you. This could also help in increasing the length of the average stay at your place, in case you, for example, partner up with a local business venue. Of course, right now (June 2020) there are not many business events happening, but there are almost always people who are searching for a place to stay longer than just a few nights.
Other benefits of teaming up are:
- Get a higher return on investment: you could team-up and pay for advertising together, lowering the overall costs
- Increase your online reach, because you can benefit from someone else's network
- Promoting many local activities? Then guests may just want to stay longer, so they can enjoy it all.
Tips to Improve Your Chances of Getting Direct Bookings
The following tips can help in increasing the chances of getting direct bookings for your hotel.
1. Develop a user-friendly website
Develop a user-friendly website for your hotel. Make sure you have plenty of high-quality pictures, a simple booking process through a dedicated Book Now Button, short booking forms, etc. Additionally, make sure you have a responsive design so that the website can be accessed from all device sizes.
2. Integrate an Online Booking Engine
This is absolutely key to getting online bookings on your own B&B or hotel website. A simple yet effective booking engine. Almost all travelers prefer to book their stays online. You got to have this optimized!
3. Start a rewards program for improving customer loyalty
Having a loyalty program is undoubtedly a very effective way to divert guests from OTA platforms to make direct bookings. And if a guest were to come through an OTA platform but upon arrival learned about the rewards program, well… Then he or she might prefer to book direct next time!
4. Improve Content Marketing Strategy
How? Easy. Become a member of the Tremento Tribe and get fresh new content ideas every month, and guidance in setting up your strategy. You should be uploading relevant, entertaining, and valuable content all the time. This is essential and helps in increasing your online visibility.You must be flexible to take advantage of domestic travelers who often look to spend a few days. In case you had a policy of a minimum stay of 4+ days, its time to reconsider and change that to flexible as per the needs of the guests.
5. Increase engagement with your Guests through social media
Interacting and staying connected with your guests using social media platforms is essential. Upload at least twice a week, update your guests on the latest and greatest and give them a sneak peek behind the scenes. Let them in on what they can expect during a stay at your place. Host contests, respond to comments, and actively engage with other accounts on the platform, too. Need some inspiration? Check out how Chateau de la Ruche does this!
6. Give lucrative discounts to people calling or walking into your property for booking a stay
There are also potential guests who use an OTA or visitor information center for procuring necessary information about a hotel or B&B, and who then contact the hotel or B&B directly with their apprehensions or questions. Tap into this opportunity by giving them a discount if they book directly through the call or on your website.
7. Ask guests to leave a review online
Reviews play an important role in promoting your accommodation online. You should reach out to your guests to leave feedback online after their stay at your property. Many travelers go through reviews to get an idea of the experience and the kind of services you offer. The more positive reviews you have, the higher your chances of getting online bookings. You could even pitch the idea to someone who DID book through an OTA, to leave a review at the OTA's website but to mention that ‘next time they'll book directly'. Or ask them to leave a review on Google, that helps too.
8. Provide Constant Customer Support
Make sure you have a customer support system in place that can help guests through your entire booking process. Make sure they can reach out to you. Provide all information through which they could get in touch with you, i.e., your phone number, email address, social media profiles, website, etc.
You will have to make your guests aware that you are offering a better deal than OTAs when they book directly. Adding a comparison section that gives them a look at the lowest prices that are currently on offer through other portals increases the chances to book through your portal. However, do make sure you don't get into a fight here with the OTA and you don't get in trouble with their set rules.
10. And again: work with partners
Like we said before: reach out to local or regional businesses and organizations that you could team up with to do some cross-promotion. Beneficial for both and a great way to increase your reach, brand awareness, and potential guests.
Go get 'em, tiger!
Promoting direct bookings from guests doesn’t mean that you should not make sure of other methods that can generate bookings. We do recommend being available on all platforms. This will increase your overall visibility. The above tips can, however, certainly improve your chances of getting direct bookings and therefore increasing your revenue. We hope you find some useful information in these tips and wish you all the best with getting those direct bookings!
Do you need more help? Are you looking for a personal success coach, someone who will be there for you when you've got questions when it comes to social media and online marketing? Then join our Tremento Tribe.