Hotel owners and managers are constantly looking for new ways to generate revenue streams and increase their hotels’ profitability. Operating through a 3rd party platform or company is, generally speaking, a good idea because it exposes the hotel to many more customers. However, direct bookings are where the true profit lies.
But how do you get more direct bookings in your hotel? If you’ve never worked on creating such a strategy, you probably don’t know where to begin. So check out our “how to get more direct bookings hotel cheat sheet guide” to find all the information you need to set things up.
What are direct bookings?
There are two types of bookings hotels deal with — direct and indirect. Indirect bookings refer to bookings that guests make through an OTA or any 3rd party for that matter. Direct bookings refer to reservations guests confirm directly with a hotel. There are no intermediaries between the hotel and its guests, enabling it to capture all the profit.
Hotel direct bookings vs. OTA (differences, advantages, and disadvantages)
Here is what you need to take into account when deciding whether to try to boost direct bookings or solely rely on bookings through OTAs.
So why bother to generate and capture direct bookings hotel leads? To make an informed decision, you’ll need to know the key direct booking vs. OTA differences. We’ve already established one difference; direct bookings encompass all reservations guests confirm directly with a hotel, unlike indirect bookings, which go through OTAs.
Another key difference is revenue. Did you know that return on investment on direct loyalty bookings is almost 200% bigger than ROI on investment in bookings through OTAs? Some OTA commissions have gone up to a whopping 45%, making it really hard for hotels to stay profitable.
There is one more phenomenon seen in the hospitality industry that goes under the name of billboard effects. It refers to the fact that 75% of guests who book directly through your hotel website have checked your listings on OTAs.
Yes, listing through OTAs does provide hotels access to more potential guests, but the control and profit lost in a trade-off are significant. Maybe that’s the reason OTAs have lost 10% of market share in Asia-Pacific and Europe from 2017 to 2020.
On the other hand, direct bookings places hotels in a position of responsibility. They need to use their own resources to market their offer, generate leads, and ensure high booking rates.
Why do hotels want direct bookings?
Why would hoteliers want direct bookings then? Here is a list of the most noteworthy perks of direct booking:
- More flexibility (special requests, custom offers, etc.);
- The most recent and accurate room information;
- Ability to custom-tailor a loyalty program;
- Change bookings easily for guests;
- Better cancelation conditions;
- Increased revenue and profit.
What is a direct booking platform?
Direct booking platforms such as Witbookingand Siteminder are developed to enhance the functionality of your hotel website. When using one of these platforms, you can have your own booking engine on your official website.
You can customize it to look just like your website and introduce additional personalizations to make it easy to use for your potential guests. It’s a must-have tool if you want to kickstart direct online booking on your own.
How to increase direct hotel bookings?
With all the technicalities out of the way, we give you the hotel cheat sheet guide to get more direct bookings.
Revisit your hotel website
Your hotel website should be great-looking, easy to use, and mobile-friendly. Your potential guests will use your website to determine whether your hotel is worth their time and hard-earned money. It should look fabulous but also load fast.
Implement a direct booking platform
Your guests need to have the means to book online. You can easily do it with a direct booking platform. It will help you extend your website functionality and enable guests to book rooms in a couple of clicks. Plus, you will get some additional perks such as analytics, insights, message targeting, and pricing and parity data accuracy.
Use a chatbot
These automated digital assistants are taking over verticals one by one. The hospitality industry is not an exception. Chatbots can be easily integrated into your website to assist your guests 24/7/365.
They are powered by cutting-edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing to appear natural. Plus, chatbots such as Quicktext are specifically developed to help hoteliers boost direct bookings.
Have a loyalty program
We’ve already mentioned the value loyalty programs have in terms of generating direct bookings. There is no better way to reward returning guests but to provide them with various incentives. Loyalty programs offer two benefits: they motivate guests to return and book directly.
Hoteliers most often offer discounts. However, you can be creative with your loyalty programs. For instance, you can offer free perks, amenities, and discounts on local attractions to make your guests’ travel experiences more memorable.
Leverage digital marketing
Digital marketing offers you lots of opportunities to get more direct bookings. You can diversify your approach and launch several digital marketing strategies simultaneously. First of all, ensure your website aligns with the best SEO practices and your content target keywords relevant to your target guests.
Maintaining an official social media profile is also an option. But you should also consider using paid digital strategies to boost your reach. These include PPC on search engines and paid marketing campaigns on Instagram and Facebook.
Create a sense of urgency during periods of low occupancy
With an online booking platform, top-notch website, and good reach, thanks to your marketing campaigns, you can now easily create a sense of urgency. It’s beneficial for boosting direct bookings during low occupancy periods.
Creating a sense of urgency is not rocket science. You advertise time-limited discounts on your rooms and amenities. You create an attention-grabbing ad, attach a timer to it, sit back and relax while it does its job.
Hopefully, this “how to get more direct bookings hotel cheat sheet guide“ will help you turn your hotel into a more profitable venue. As you can see, you can use different strategies to achieve the same results while becoming less and less reliant on OTAs. Every hotel is unique, which is why we’ll let you choose a method that you see most beneficial for you and your guests.
Graduated from Standford University, Arielle has over 5 years of experience in the Hospitality industry. She holds an MBA in business administration from the IDC Herzliya, Israel. She currently works as Account Manager at UpStay, building and maintaining strong, long-lasting customer relationships. She is deeply passionate about helping hoteliers unlock significant new revenue streams from unsold premium inventory.