Leading names in the hotel sector have spoken out about the benefits of providing customers with the best price and service when they book directly through their website. Despite backing direct bookings, research indicates that online travel agents (OTAs) are more frequently providing a cheaper price for a room than supplier websites, indicating that there’s a disconnect between hotel ambitions and practice.
Consumers today are willing to browse to find the best holiday price before they make a booking and expect the process to be simple from start to finish. It represents an opportunity for hoteliers seeking to boost direct reservations. Through consistently offering the best price that can’t be beaten by OTAs, hoteliers can increase how many customers are using their hotel reservation system software to make a booking.
Hotel industry heavyweights Hilton and Marriott have both spoken out about how booking direct gives travellers the best deal. However, a study looking at these two hotel chains and Hyatt and IHG suggested that this is not always the case. Research from Piper Jaffray found that booking from a hotel’s own website offered the best price just 13% of the time, while using an OTA led to a lower price 21% of the time.
It marks a need for hotels to step up their strategy to improve their online hotel booking engine so it continuously offers the best price.
Why should you encourage more direct bookings?
There are numerous reasons why you should be eager to increase more customers to make a booking with you directly.
• It removes the commission cost you pay for bookings made through OTAs.
• It allows you to create a personalised experience for your guests, improving satisfaction.
• You can offer additional perks by signing up to a loyalty programme, creating a valuable database for marketing purposes.
• You can gather insight into your customer’s user journey and preferences to improve your brand.
• You’re in control of the experience the customer has from beginning to end.
How to increase you direct bookings
If you’re eager to reap the benefits of booking directly, there are some steps to increase your chances of customers coming to your hotel’s website and making a booking. With the right tools and steps taken, you can follow the lead of industry heavyweights to focus on direct bookings.
• Price check – Price is one of the most important factors for consumers when making a decision and your website should offer the best deal for travellers. To be competitive it’s essential that your online hotel booking engine is optimised for reflecting the fluctuating market.
• Make the booking process simple – If your booking process is complicated and overly time-consuming, customers will go elsewhere. Consumers choose to book via online channels for the ease of use and if you’re not meeting this vital demand your direct bookings will slip.
• Use a price check widget – Embedding a price check widget within your website will clearly demonstrate how your booking price compares to OTAs. It helps to give travellers the confidence to book directly without shopping around first.
• Add value – It’s not just price that’s considered during the booking process and direct bookings give you an opportunity to add value. It could be as simple as offering loyalty points for future discounts or demonstrating how you offer a customised service for each booking.
• Lower cancellation costs – Cancelling a booking through an OTA typically means the consumer doesn’t get a significant portion of their money back. Offering lower cancellation costs can tip the balance in your favour.