Many hotels have a presence on online travel agents (OTAs) and it can be a valuable way of generating business. However, the ultimate goal should always be direct bookings, as they offer a lower acquisition cost and can really boost revenues.Here are five simple tips you can put into practice that should have travellers coming directly to you and reserving rooms through your own hotel booking engine.
1.Perfect your website Your website is often the first thing people see of you, particularly if they have come straight from a Google search. You want to ensure it represents your brand, is neat and tidy, offers all the essential information and works correctly, otherwise you could see your valuable business going elsewhere. Provide interesting, useful content, dazzling images and a user-friendly interface that works on both desktop and mobile devices so travellers have no reason to go elsewhere right from the beginning.
2.Have a booking engine It might seem obvious, but if there are no facilities for online booking on your hotel website, then people are going to have to go elsewhere – they won’t want to waste their time going from your website to pick up the phone and reserve a room that way. It will probably be quite a big investment, but a good booking engine is likely to be worth it in the long run in terms of conversions.
3.Provide must-have value OTAs might have rock-bottom rates, but you can aim to give your guests something they can’t get elsewhere if you want to lure them away. You could offer special package deals for specific audiences such as hen parties, or provide discount codes for your email subscribers if they book direct. Other options include free parking or meal vouchers – make it seem like they’re getting something really good at no extra cost than what they’d fork out with an OTA.
4.Reward loyalty A good way of achieving extra direct bookings is to tempt back the people who have already stayed with you through loyalty programmes. If they know they’ve got a card stamped with three stays and they only need one more to be rewarded with a free night, they might be more likely to book directly with you than to go with another hotel. There are lots of different reward schemes, so take a look around and see if you could emulate any at your property.
5.Chase up lost leads Travellers will look at lots of different websites before making a decision on booking, but you might be able to capture someone who landed on your pages and didn’t ultimately make a reservation through special coding or software on your website. This approach is called remarketing and is valuable for chasing up leads who have been almost tempted to make a booking but not quite. You simply track them and remind them about you using specially-placed adverts the next time they’re online, or with email marketing if you have their address. It could be the push they need to come back to you.
Finding strategies that encourage direct booking can be an important part of hotel revenue management system as they reduce your dependency on the OTAs – why not try some this year?