One of the biggest challenges for hoteliers is being able to increase the number of direct bookings. Looking at the size of the market and the proliferation of third-party booking sites, it is imperative for hotels to strike the right balance between direct and OTA bookings. While OTAs play a vital role in getting bookings, the fact is direct bookings are more profitable. It saves on intermediary commission charges of the OTA.
Choose the right booking engine software:
Incorporating a first-rate booking engine for your website is critical to attracting direct bookings. Visitors get real-time information about the status of rooms. This is one of the most effective ways to attract direct bookings. When a guest makes a room booking they get confirmation instantly from the PMS. This satisfies the guest that their accommodation is a sure thing.
Have a well-optimised website:
The hotel website plays a critical role in attracting direct bookings. It must be user-friendly, visually appealing and easily navigable. It needs a strong digital presence to maximise visitors. Apart from excellent optimisation for search engines, it has to offer mobile responsiveness. With a growing segment of travellers using mobile devices and smart-phones to make bookings, it must work seamlessly across multiple devices.
When people visit your website, you could offer incentives for them to make direct bookings. State the benefits they will receive if they book directly at the hotel website. E.g. book directly at our site and get discounts on shopping at affiliate partners etc. Almost everyone looks for freebies, so if you sweeten the deal they are more than likely to book directly. As per a Skift study close to 45% of visitors feel that perks and incentives influence their decision to book.
Study booking abandonments:
If prospective guests are visiting the site, spending time examining the rooms and facilities and leaving when they reach the booking stage, there is a problem. It will negatively impact direct bookings! You need to find out about their experience at the hotel website. Examine the type of rooms they searched for and saw before they decided to look elsewhere. Try to get in touch with them via email or phone and find out what they were specifically looking for. If the price is a concern, offer them the best rate available and mention the extra benefit/s they will receive if they book directly with you. Building a personal rapport will make them return visitors.
Emphasize positive reviews:
A growing percentage of travellers check hotel reviews with a large number of them basing their decision to make bookings subject to the reviews. Having positive reviews on your website and other independent review sites will influence the decision of prospective guests. When your hotel receives positive reviews from former guests these need to emphasised and highlighted. These should reflect all through the site to convince the visitor to make a booking. Do not just collect reviews but make it a point to respond promptly. This shows you value your guests’ opinions and will win over other prospective guests.