While the OTAs will pull in your hotel’s broader audience - yes, a worthwhile strategy if you want to maintain a busy occupancy - it’s still no reason to put your feet up and ignore the greater benefits of convincing customers to book direct.
Maximising revenue and seizing the opportunity to build a close relationship with guests are two big motives for your hotel to put direct bookings at the forefront. Get ahead of the OTAs by making sure the option of booking directly with your hotel weighs in your favour with special offers and loyalty rewards, and while doing so, take the chance to establish a close relationship with guests that will initiate this loyalty and, in turn, increase hotel bookings altogether.
A point to remember going forward: guests are generally inclined to book direct as it does away with third-party sites that don’t always deliver the best booking experience - with this in mind, all you have to do is present the incentives that will give your customers that necessary push.
Formulate a Game Plan for Your Hotel’s Offers and Specials
Don’t underestimate the importance of offers and specials - a tactic at your disposal that can, and will, give your hotel an edge over the OTAs - if done right. If a customer has knowledge that they’re getting more value for their money by booking direct, that’s a no-brainer for the customer and a subsequent win for your business with zero or less profit lost to commission. Begin or improve your marketing strategy with these effective approaches:
- Implement an attractive popup on your website that lets each visitor know about your hotel’s exciting new offer.
- Dish out offers directly via your email subscriber base.
- Be consistent: refresh your offers throughout the year - peak periods are crucial opportunities to give your customers that extra inspiration to get booking with you and not your competitor.
More Ways to Steer Customers Away from the OTAs
As well as getting your hotel’s offers out in the open, don’t ignore the other ways in which you can get customers to lean in favour of your booking page. These include providing incentives that you have control of over the OTAs - such as complimentary drinks on arrival, free breakfast/parking or wifi, perhaps late check-outs - and introducing your own loyalty scheme that provides more perks with each direct booking.
Also, remember that customers aren’t limited to booking online: promote over the phone and over the counter bookings where you can take full control of your rates. Whether you’re on board or not in today’s online market, the OTAs will contribute to the majority of your bookings, but don’t brush aside the opportunity to maximise your overall returns by laying down the groundwork to get your customers to book direct.
What are you doing to encourage direct bookings? Let us know in the comments below!