Before diving into the direct bookings check-list, we want to discuss the importance of receiving direct bookings from guests in the first place. It doesn’t matter if you have a hotel, hostel or vacation rentals, receiving direct bookings for your accommodation is one of the most difficult things to achieve. It is extremely competitive as both booking channels, countless competitors and content websites all compete for travelers’ online attention.
Why is it important to get direct bookings?
Having your own website and booking portal allows you to have a personal relationship with your guests, where you have complete control over pricing, images, and description.
Your own website should have your look and feel and travelers who book directly with you will know what to expect from your accommodation best. At the very least, your returning guests should be able to book directly with you. Having this direct channel is significant as it allows guests to remember your brand and at the same time gives you independence and control over your own sales channel and future profitability of your business.
Below is a detailed checklist that includes various action items to increase direct bookings. The list is organized by level of progress, the further down the list you go the more advanced the action items get.
- Manage your own mobile friendly website where you accept online bookings
- Make sure it is easy to find the booking button on your website
- Make sure you are listed on Google Business and that your listing includes a direct link to your website
- Send a thank you note to guests after staying with link to your own website
- Offer your guests a discount for booking directly and make sure guests see that the best price is when you book direct
- Make sure to send a confirmation email with logo and full booking details
- Place your very best images on your website
- Use social media to engage with your audience and post content regularly to build your brand
- Collect your own reviews. Tell customers that reviews may be displayed on your site, or they may be used as feedback to help you improve your offering
- Opt-in marketing- regularly ask guests if they are interested in joining your mailing list and use email marketing
- Give better deposit/cancellation terms to those that book direct, and promote these terms on your website
- Put a price comparison widget on your site, showing direct booking as the cheapest option
- Create content for your guests that includes information about your property and destination
The most important factor in achieving a high percentage of direct bookings is guest communication. The more you engage with your guests before and during their stay and take control over guest experience, the more likely it is for your guests to remember your brand, recommend you to fellow travelers and look for you directly.