With 2018 just around the corner, there’s never been a better time to step back and consider new ways to nurture direct bookings over the next 12 months.
For those hotel brands looking to increase their hotel online distribution and grow direct engagement with guests, hotel channel manager software can be a sensible starting point. Read on to discover other ways that you can grow your hotel’s direct bookings in 2018.
Identify trends to inform the decision making process
Before implementing any new marketing strategies for the new year, it is important to analyse existing data and identify key channels. Doing a data mine of 2017 booking trends and sources will allow you to see how many customers booked via an OTA and how many went directly to your website. You should also be able to track the customer journey and touchpoints, notice seasonal trends and popular room and rate types. Pulling reports from your hotel channel manager software should be able to give you much of the information you need. Once you have this data to hand, you should be able to identify gaps and opportunities and begin to formulate a data-led growth plan.
Offer the best rate
In order to edge out OTAs, it is important to offer the most competitive price to guests directly. If you don’t have price comparison available already, adding this to your hotel booking engine can also help to drive up conversion. Make it easy for guests to feel confident that they are getting the best rate by going direct and then, facilitate room type, rate and date comparisons too.
The main reasons that customer chooses to book through OTAs is because they are quick, easy and offer competitive prices. It’s important to show potential customers that they have something to gain by booking direct. You might offer more flexible cancellation policies for example or guest reward programs to incentivise the direct booking.
Being able to quickly and easily find a hotel and book a room on any device is a basic consumer expectation. If you haven’t yet got to grips with mobile SEO, responsive web design, mobile apps and mobile optimised booking engines, investment in these areas is an easy way to drive up direct bookings.
Change rate displays
Recent research has shown that rate displays can have a big impact on conversion figures for hotels. The common way of displaying rates in a Per Person format has been proven to be less effective than Total Stay or Per Night. A simple change to your website booking engine settings or app can increase the number of direct bookings and improve your RevPar.
Use a booking abandonment tool
Often, consumers looking for a hotel will browse the internet in search of the best deal. During this research period, users may abandon the search or leave your website before completing their booking. Use CRO techniques such as automated emails and retargting to encourage those guests back to complete their reservation and enhance your conversion rates.
Maintain OTA inventory
Making sure that the level of rooms available on OTAs is a vital step in generating high direct booking figures. Limiting the inventory on external OTAs will ensure that you maintain a healthy level of direct bookings which are more profitable.