Direct Bookings for Hotels
How do you get more direct bookings through your website as opposed to those OTA websites?
This is an ongoing debate. When you look at how smart the OTA companies are at how effective they are at utilizing technology in their favour, it's no wonder that the OTA sites are getting more and more bookings.
We find there is less and less clients paying attention to what is happening with technology and marketing and therefore missing out on why they are paying higher and higher commissions via the OTA's.
1. First, have you got a responsive website?
Have you got a much better website than the OTA's? They keep improving their website with your and user photos, reviews, map locations and functionality. But the problem with OTA websites is that every hotel looks the same. They are really not putting much energy or effort into what is unique and different about each property or at least it's not apparent until you start looking through all the copy trying to figure it out for yourself.(mostly focused on price or special deals)
So this is the easiest way for an independent hotel to stand out. Make your website more memorable and easy for your customer to see what you offer, why you offer it, what is unique and different about your property. Go with a fully responsive website that is using the full screen, beautiful images, beautiful emotional video that is engaging and put regular content on your site as to why you are different and unique.
Travellers have a difficult job of figuring out all this stuff and will look at multiple sites OTA's included, so how well do you stand out and how easy did you make this job for them. Create a 'first impression' website that they go 'Oh wow this is exactly what I want.' Your site is then the one they are going to come back to and make their booking on. It's so important to give a little extra to create this experience for travellers.
2. Do you have a customer journey experience with your customers?
You will get a lot of people come through all of the other OTA channels but what are you actually doing about staying in touch with those customers? Do you have a customer journey experience with them even if they have come to you via an OTA website or different channel? How do you convert bookings from these channels to loyal future customers? You need to foster and nurture those relationships ongoing. So it's very important that you have that strategy in place. That's a key element as to why many of our customers are seeing increases in OTA bookings. The OTA companies have excellent customer journey experiences and many touch points.
3. Expand on the quality of the content that you provide on your website
Another key area that is not possible on OTA websites is to expand on the quality of the content and the information that you provide on your website. I know TripAdvisor do this quite well and they are starting to do this on the other OTA websites too. They are starting to develop blog posts that do have a lot of helpful information i.e. the best restaurants in your area. If they are providing interesting information for people, then it's easy for people to go via that channel to make their booking. If they are not finding quality information on any of the independent websites, then you're really forcing people to use those other channels to get that information.
This is a great way to really outshine the OTA's with your own local and personalised knowledge and experiences.
With your own website you're in control of what content is being added. How frequently, what images, the personality and the tone... there is so much to put into the content of your website. There are many areas of content where you can build your website. You have the opportunity with your website to build an incredible landing page that people are engaged with and stay within your website rather than needing to have to read guest reviews or leave to go and find out what is happening in the area.
4. The best rate guaranteed
Another key aspect ensuring that people book direct is making it obvious that when they deal with you that they are getting the best rate guaranteed. It's interesting how booking.com put that on their signature as well. They are affirming to people that it's the best rate guaranteed. But the reality is that there is rate parity across all of the sites. It's important to educate your clientele that the best rates and service are guaranteed on your website - full stop.
It's great that the OTA's send you customers, it works for them and it works for you. But at the end of the day those are your customers and you want to make them loyal customers to you. You want to keep them at the forefront of the communications that you send out on a regular basis so that they are keeping you in mind instead of the OTA's for their next booking. All the OTA companies send out a lot of email marketing campaigns all the time - they use this technology really effectively. Our stats clearly show us that this is an area underutilised by most hotels on an independent level.
The bigger volume hotels are sending far more emails and they are under the nose of consumers a lot more often which means they then get more bookings. We've seen a direct correlation with the number of emails sent out to the number of visitors to the website and revenue generated. It's very logical when you have access to see big data stats like we do and see the dollars generated from email marketing. I think that there is a myth out there that too many emails annoy people - again the stats say otherwise.
I actually find people want to know what is going on. If you keep people in the know and keep it interesting they will love you for it and they will book direct. People love to be reminded of their happy memories on holiday which motivates them to book another holiday.
So if you'd like to have a chat to us about some of our other strategies, we have many different ways of ensuring that you do increase your own direct bookings then please get in touch with us.