Driving direct booking is the name of the game. But how do you circumvent those pesky OTA’s and drive revenue directly to your hotel? We’re going to look at 5 tips on how to drive direct bookings, the challenges with winning them, strategies to get them, and ways to truly measure their value.
1. Determine Direct Booking Success from Guest Data
While OTAs are walking around with briefcases full of money for advertising, that doesn’t mean you are completely out of the game. For marketing, “Win where you can win”. To know where you can win, you have to have data to tell you where you are winning in terms of direct bookings, right?
So digital reporting is great, you can see what campaigns are having an impact, driving traffic, putting heads in beds, etc. You also need the capability to see how these campaigns, packages, and offers are converting through phone reservations or you don’t have a true view of what’s working in order to optimize your messaging and channels.
2. Personalize the Direct Booking Process
“We are here. We have rooms. They are available on your timeline. Here’s how much they cost.”
Not super appealing. I want to know if you have a hot tub, when it’s open, how far the closest cheesesteak shop is, and if you will let me eat said cheesesteak in said hot tub. Okay, that’s extreme. But you’ll need to be prepared for prospective guest questions, and real-time messaging will come in handy when those guests book and begin their stay.
The point is that consumers want more from the sell. Details about the property that make it unique, insights into the surrounding area, and a feel for the on-site experience are key. Your website should reflect experiences and expertise that only you and your staff know, and your agents should be ready to paint a picture of what makes your place ideal for their stay. It’s conversational selling that will help drive those direct bookings.
3. OTAs and Direct Bookings
Sit back, relax, and watch the direct bookings flow in, with close to a 30% revenue loss. OTAs can be an absolute key for your channel mix at certain times of the year. No one expects you to be at 100% direct bookings. But making smart decisions with your rates, data collection, and retargeting strategies is imperative when you do get bookings via OTAs.
Make the investments needed to drive second stay direct bookings. Invest in reservation sales technology and training for your staff. Invest in automated marketing systems and a slick website. Make sure when you get their attention, you keep it, as you make your case for why they should stay with you.
4. Don’t Create Abandoned Guests
There is nothing more frustrating than calling a property, only to be told to book on the website. “I called for a reason, Jan!”
The website is still direct right? So what’s the problem?
You’ve lost control of your prospective guest. You had them on the phone, and they were interested! By pushing them to your website, you have not only under-delivered on customer service, but you’ve in-explicitly told them to look at rates online. They are now in rate comparison mode, and you just let them go. But it doesn’t have to end with abandoned guests you need to take charge to initiate direct bookings.
5. Direct Channels Impact Direct Bookings
“Digital is the most productive way to get direct bookings.”
“No one calls anymore.”
Pour that money into the ol’ digital budget and call it done.
Hotels have taken a digital forward approach with marketing budgets, but those budgets can be short-sided. If we think about utilizing the voice channel to drive direct bookings, you’re likely to experience higher conversions and higher RevPAR than the digital channel. For every dollar of revenue that is earned through digital, the voice channel brings in $3 for our clients. By not loving all your direct channels the same way you could be losing out on some major incremental revenue.
Looking for More Resources, Be Sure to Check Out
Direct Booking and Your Marketing Strategy
Responding to demand
Revenue and Direct Bookings