When marketing a hotel, it is obviously a point of success when a customer responds by making a booking. But the means of booking is another matter. Whether they have read something in print, found you by googling and picking up on some excellent SEO content that places you high in the rankings, discovered your social media site and been impressed, or simply read a good review on TripAdvisor or a similar portal, if a potential guest has been persuaded that booking with you is a great idea, then that means you have succeeded.
However, while any booking will have a positive impact on the bottom line, anything booked via a third-party website could erode that, since they will claim commission. Thus, to maximise income, it is important to try to persuade customers to book direct. And there are several steps that hoteliers can take to make this more likely.
Watch those prices
One thing you must do is avoid seeing direct booking as a cash cow. Maximising revenue is a good idea, but avoid setting your direct booking prices at a level where other agents can do it indirectly, offer a discount and still make a profit. An example of this practice was noted on TripAdvisor, where one traveller lamented: “You find though that most times you book direct with apartments, [or a] hotel you will be paying more!” Clearly avoiding this is critical – and one way you can do so is through price matching, or even offering your own discount. It might make less money per room, but will compensate for this by increasing the occupancy rate.
When a booking is direct, it means the lines of accountability are directly between you and the customer and thus it is clearer who is responsible if something goes wrong, making recompense a more straightforward matter. It is not a bad idea to offer subtle reminders of this, such as in your content marketing, as it reminds potential guests of a very good reason for booking direct.
It is also worth reminding customers that with a direct booking, it is much easier to change details like the size of room and date of booking.
Definitely one to consider: offer points, free drinks or other perks for booking direct.
Hotels need to be proactive in making clear to guests just how much better off they are with direct bookings. By doing so, you can ensure they get into a habit they will keep – not least on their next visit to your hotel.