Do it Yourself! How to Drive Up Direct Bookings and Reduce OTA Reliance
No doubt about it; for many independent hoteliers, driving up their direct online bookings is something of a holy grail. But it’s far from an easy thing to do. The trick is to, well, be aware of the tricks of the trade – and successfully deploy them. What are they? It’s fair to say that both a creative approach and an effective re-engagement strategy can help enormously, combining to boost direct bookings and lower reliance on OTAs – and so avoid paying a hefty commission for each and every booking. Here then are some thoughts to consider…
Embrace creativity to entice
It may be a well-honed business phrase, but ‘thinking outside the box’ when it comes to your hotel’s website can pay dividends. Try to add value wherever and whenever you can – maybe you could bundle breakfast and/ or dinner with your standard room rate? Or throw in parking credits or even promotions/ deals for local restaurants, bars or nightspots? Creativity’s always welcome when it comes to incentivising direct hotel bookings – be sure to go above and beyond and be more targeted and personal than an OTA. Being unique is often good; being enticing is always great.
Make booking safe and easy
Convincing your potential guests that it’s safe to book via your website is absolutely necessary; trust is key. Not only must they find the path to purchase accessible, easy and efficient (for instance, by being directed to a reliable online booking engine for hotels , they should also feel secure as they venture along the customer journey you’ve set them on. Displaying ‘trust icons’ and offering guarantees on your site – specifically on relevant pages – are important here, but so too is comforting content (e.g. headings like ‘Book with us with confidence’).
Get the right sort of traffic
How can you get prospective bookers to actually visit your site and, therefore, book rooms at your hotel? Through personalised display campaigns that appeal to them intuitively because they’re responsive to previous bookers’ behavioural patterns; that’s how. You also want to draw to your site abandoned customers, as well as previously satisfied and brand new customers. Confident and effective campaign management is crucial then; you’re marketing need to comprise fully brand-aligned ads to drive more bookings and avoid budget waste.
Don’t forget to re-engage and re-target
As touched on above, winning back those who’ve previously abandoned bookings is a big win-win; the return on investment (ROI) can be fantastic because booking abandonment in the hotel industry is enormous and the headache of many a hotelier and OTA. To pull off this re-targeting and re-engagement you might look to the likes of email shots; done right, they can be highly effective at boosting your conversion rate and bringing visitors back to your site who didn’t quite complete their booking last time around, for whatever reason.