Hotels operating today face the tricky task of balancing direct bookings and using online travel agents (OTA). Both have distinct advantages and in order to maximise profits and occupancy, hoteliers will need to use the two effectively.
For many hotels focussing on increasing direct bookings, they can be worried about how it will affect their relationship with their OTA. But there is a way to utilise both channels and keep all parties happy.
OTAs might be relatively new to the travel market but they’ve transformed the way that the industry operates. They’ve opened up a new way for hotels to grow their client list. OTAs have expertly positioned themselves as the place for travellers to go when they’re searching for their next holiday deal. Despite rate parity typically occurring across hotel websites and OTAs, many consumers wrongly believe that heading to an OTA will secure a better deal than if they went directly.
On the other side of the booking argument is direct booking. While you’ll often need to put more effort into getting people to your site, there are obvious benefits. Firstly, you’ll eliminate the commission you would otherwise be paying to the OTA for securing you a reservation, boosting your revenue.
When consumers book directly it also gives you complete control of their experience from start to finish, allowing you to create a unified experience. With the right online hotel reservation system in place and follow up communications, it’s a way to foster brand loyalty and improve customer satisfaction rates. What’s more, it’s a way to build up your customer loyalty program database to maximise marketing opportunities.
With most OTA agreements meaning hotels need to offer price parity rates across both the OTA and through their direct online hotel reservation system, it can be a challenge to increase hotel bookings while still keeping partners happy
How to increase your direct bookings without jeopardising OTA bookings
Key to getting the most out of booking engine for hotels without infringing OTA agreements is to add value. Under your agreement you’re unlikely to be able to offer a room rate direct on your site that’s cheaper than what’s offered through an OTA.
However, you can add value to your customers to encourage more to come directly:
• Promote exclusive offers – Even under an OTA agreement, you can offer exclusive deals through your website. Giving travellers an added extra incentive could just be the thing to sway them. An offer could include a free night when paying for two, a complimentary room upgrade, or added extras, such as inclusive breakfast.
• Connect on social media – Social media platforms are the ideal place for hotels to drum up business. It gives you an opportunity to demonstrate exactly why travellers should be booking directly to the consumers that are looking to make a reservation.
• Create an enticing loyalty program – A loyalty program can help tip those travellers that are on the fence when it comes to booking. It also provides you with more opportunities to improve your marketing results and entice customers to return.