Once a customer finds you on an OTA, the first place they usually go is to your hotel’s direct website. Be sure to tell your guest WHY they should book direct and ensure the booking then and there.
You need to offer legitimate benefits for guests to ditch their OTA habit and book with you instead. But there’s no need to give away additional costly amenities to generate direct bookings and create parity arguments with your OTA “partners.”
Instead, simply remind viewers that direct booking includes things you already offer: these can include free wifi, free breakfast, airport transfers, or discounts off the restaurant and spa. OTAs are often unaware of these core inclusions and unable to showcase them on your OTA listing page.
Most hotels are smart enough to offer guests convincing reasons like these to book direct, however they hide these reasons deep inside their website. Or, only display them once the guests make it to the booking engine. Or, forget to arm their call center reps with these reminders of value.
Your direct booking benefits need to be obvious, shared often and displayed in areas where online visitors can’t miss them. Such as right on your homepage, in your social media pages, in a prominent place on all of your marketing emails, in your employees’ email signature, retargeting ads, etc.
Bring out your direct booking benefits front and center to amplify your chances of guests booking direct.
Here are 3 tips on how to convince your audience that booking direct is best:
1. Reinforce Best Price Guarantee
Consumers usually aren’t aware that your hotel offers the exact same price as OTAs for the same rooms. So, it’s up to you to continuously reinforce the message that booking direct is in their best interest. You’d be amazed how much your conversion rate can go up by simply placing a prominent reminder to consumers on your booking widgets that booking direct is better!
Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to simply have a Best Rate Guarantee on your website. That has very little impact on the average consumer. Today’s guests are all about convenience, so the smartest tactic is to show OTA rates next to your own rate, proving to the visitor that only booking direct gets them the best prices. This type of feature will also automatically match the OTA’s cheaper rate if they are out of parity with a dynamic discount.
2. Simpler Design and Booking Process
Because OTAs cover so many aspects of the travel experience – hotels, airfare, car rentals, activities, cruises and bundle packages – their websites are naturally complicated, cluttered and overrun with content. You can use that to your advantage by ensuring that your hotel website design is easy on the eyes and simple to navigate. Create a visually arresting story. Select only your most stunning images, cut down on unnecessary text and reformat current text so it is easier to digest.
3. Highlight Direct Booking Benefits
Go beyond the standard Best Rate Guarantee and showcase the perks that only guests who book direct can enjoy. Is it complimentary WiFi? A complimentary upgrade (if available)? More loyalty points? Free daily breakfast? It’s about highlighting the value of booking direct and getting that message across in as many channels as needed. The first place a traveler goes after seeing a hotel that interests them on an OTA site is to the hotel’s website itself.
So, publish your direct booking benefits visibly and prominently on your homepage, add it to your retargeting ad copy, include it in every post-stay email and remind your followers of it occasionally on social media.