Want to improve your hotel’s profit margins? Then you’ll need to get customers to book directly through you—not third-party OTAs that take up to 30% in commission.
We already discussed the difference between OTA vs direct bookings, but how do you actually get customers to book through you? We reached out to our network of hoteliers who increased their direct bookings without relying on OTAs. This article is all about:
- Why direct bookings are all about sliding into your customers’ DMs
- How to make digital marketing work for you
- Why the secret to more direct bookings lies in sleek SEO
- Ready to reclaim your revenue? Keep reading.
5 Practical Tips For Encouraging Direct Bookings
Here are five tips you can implement right now to improve your direct bookings, drive up revenue, and keep customers coming back for more. Let’s jump right into it:
1. Build A User-Friendly Hotel Website
You won’t get a second chance to make a first impression. So make sure your website is up to scratch.
Is your booking process streamlined? If you’re not sure, take a look at major OTA booking companies and how they design their pages.
Like Booking.com for example—they reserved a lot of website real estate for their CTAs (i.e. Reserve). This is colorfully designed to catch the user’s attention. After all, if they can’t find where on your website to book, they’ll simply leave.
2. Get On Board With Digital Marketing
If you’re not doing digital marketing then you’re missing out. It’s by far the most effective way to reach potential guests. There are a number of ways you can do this:
Sign your business up to Google My Business. It’s often the first place people check for hotels—if you’re not on it you’re losing bookings.
Make your website SEO friendly. When guests search for + hotel, you want to be on the first page of search results.
Invest in paid ads. Think Facebook, Instagram, or wherever your target guests spend their online time.
Email marketing. If guests sign up to receive marketing from you—spoilers—they should—then leverage this by mailing them offers and keeping your brand top of mind.
Learn More: Why There’s A Wrong Way To Implement Tech Into Your Hotel And How To Avoid It
Get more direct bookings now!
3. Leverage Loyalty Programs
A loyalty program doesn’t have to be complicated. Whenever a guest arrives you give them an incentive to opt-in i.e. allow them the chance to check in early.
Once they’re signed up you can give them benefits for booking directly with you. Such as: membership-only rates, free parking or a discount on breakfast. This preferential treatment might just be the deciding factor when they’re deciding on where to stay for their next trip.
4. It’s Time To Get Social
One brand that does this to good effect is the Hilton. They post regularly and engage with their 118,000 followers. One thing they could improve on is their engagement rate—they don’t reply to comments and there are a lot of unaddressed complaints on their social media, which isn’t a great look.
But you don’t have to have the production values of the Hilton. Just posting quick videos and updates is a great way to build community with regular guests, increase your brand voice and exposure online.
5. Get Serious About Branding
Human beings are designed to respond to stories. It’s true. You need to take some time to consider your brand’s story. Who are you? What’s your story, your history, your mission? And how are you telling these stories (hint: social media/blogs are a great way to spread the word).
One hotel that does this effectively is The Ritz.
They share their story via their online travel magazine and shareable social media content. And everyone knows what they stand for—luxury service, dining, and afternoon tea.
A sometimes neglected aspect of brand presence is clear guest communication. It sets the tone for your brand and for the guest experience. And if things go wrong, clear and honest communication is the only way to solve that. We went deeper into the topic in the link below.
Learn More: 7 Simple Strategies To Improve Your Guest Communication
Use this checklist to increase direct bookings:
This detailed checklist includes various action items to help 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
Ready To Get More Direct Bookings?
OTAs might be a significant source of your bookings, but they don’t have to be the only one. By trying out the tips we shared in this article you can convert customers from booking with OTA to booking directly with you—saving you up to 30% in commission.
OTAs invest millions of dollars into UX design and advertising. But you don’t need deep pockets to compete—you need a tech partner with skin in the game. Duve is made up of a team of hotel industry veterans who are here to help. If you’re curious about increasing your direct bookings, then our team is here to help.