It is not so much a single lever to pull or activity to action, but more of a functional approach to the attention you attract through your marketing and the clarity of what you communicate.
We have specifically looked at a formula to raise profits for managers and owners so that we create a win/win for those making a profit to then improve the guest experience, the whole reason for being in business and growing your business. More happy customers will = healthy growing business.
I love the power of questions. Questions really are the answer!
We start this journey of discovery by asking 10 key questions:
- What % of your overall revenue comes from OTA’s or other commission heavy 3rd parties?
- Do your in-house procedures cultivate a "book direct culture to the guest”?
- What systems do you have in place to connect more with your guests?
- Do you get more bookings from direct channels (calls/website bookings/emails/walk-ins) than 3rd parties/OTA’s?
- Do you showcase the benefits of booking direct on your hotel website, email signatures,
email newsletters, brochures, flyers?
- Do you economise inventory on 3rd party channels during periods of high demand?
- How would you rate your own digital marketing if you were the guest?
There won’t be any client who books on your website without having also checked Booking.com (and many other OTA and price-comparison websites).
- Do you have a strategy to persuade direct interest and action from your website?
Unfortunately this is a zero-sum game (a win/loose situation). You cannot win a booking on your website without taking it away from another channel or at least being prepared to back yourself rather than solely relying on OTA’s. The best and most realistic strategy to boost your direct sales is to move sales from other channels to your website.
- How do you stack up in percentage of bookings?
Compare your stats against the survey of consumers from eight international markets including Australia.
The data clearly shows that OTAs are the preferred method in every market for the last booking made on a leisure trip. Data from - www.phocuswright.com
OTA - 32%, Hotel Website 23%, Call Direct 15%, Travel Agent 7%, Walk-in 3%
- Are you playing in your comfort zone - comfortable but with limited results?
We all like our “comfort zone”. It’s a psychological and very human thing. In the relation between OTAs and direct sales, the “comfort zone” has historically consisted in “playing by the rules of the OTA”, which has lead us to these levels of intermediated sales. OTAs try to make you forget about boosting your direct sales because “it’s not worth it” and it’s “very complicated” and if you choose to boost your direct channel.
Alongside TripAdvisor, Booking.com is the largest Internet showcase to search and find a hotel in a destination. It’s an essential showcase and you need it. Also, it shouldn’t worry you that Booking.com sells a lot, provided that you understand how those sales are generated and that they are helping you improve the hotel’s profitability.
However, OTAs and Booking.com, like all businesses, primarily look out for their own profit (and not yours). Many of their actions generate a clear-cut conflict of interest and in order for them to win, you need to lose. Of the many examples there are, we think that the most illustrative one is Booking Genius, a programme on which we will soon publish the reasons why we believe hotels must abandon it as soon as possible.
The combination of “comfort zone and high profitability” doesn’t exist. Finding the optimum channel mix which maximises your profitability requires work, leaving your comfort zone, consistency and negotiation in order to find balance once again. Many have already accomplished this, others are still on the subject and most of them haven’t even started.
Leaving the comfort zone is no trivial matter. It requires tools, strategy and tactics. Doing it quickly and without giving it much thought doesn’t work. However, with a good plan and roadmap, it’s perfectly feasible and risk free or low risk.
At Pebble, we listen, learn and uncover the relationships between the moving parts and have created a formula for solving the above predicament. We are happy to share this formula at no cost and genuinely help hoteliers who are passionate about their business, growing in value for themselves and for an unforgettable guest experience.
The above is not the formula as such, just a starting point for a discussion. We’ll love to hear from you to give you your own ‘Book Direct Strategy’ tool kit or Book Direct Formula (BDF).