5 Tips to Promote Direct Bookings

#Rate #Pricing #RevenueManagement #HarunDagli #HospitalityCode #Directbookings #DirectSales #retention #CompetitiveEdge

As we all know, the direct bookings present two great advantages for our business; creates a personable direct relationship with our customers which improves satisfaction and retention as well as financial benefits.


If we all agree on the above statement then a key question follows; how we can achieve this?


The obvious first step is to have an online and engine sales-oriented approach. Strengthening your hotel’s website and online presence could generate more direct contact with your customers and this translates into an increase in direct bookings and reduce acquisition costs which ultimately benefit your property in all areas.


It is important to invest not only in a good web design but also in the content of it. The hotel website should not be just looking beautiful, it must be well designed and written so that the user finds what he reads interesting, easy to navigate and seeds curiosity that they want to learn more and visit your property. It should be user-friendly, if you create a site which is heavy with videos and quality picture, it might look great but without a decent content, it means nothing or if it takes ages to open and difficult to navigate, people will be left you page within 10 seconds.


The content and SEO have a big part to play in this strategy, we cannot ignore the power of beautiful visuals, however, you need to be able to paint a picture with your content that user could feel how it feels to be at your hotel.


The reservation engine should be also easy to use and facilities the next steps to the user. Remember, it might look great for your and cover all necessary angles for you but you need to be able to see it with the user’s point of view. If there is any glitch or confusion in your reservation engine, this will push your potential customer to one of the well-known and expertly designed OTAs. So, whatever you create, always think about the user and make it easier for them to book.


Of course, all above should be a part of the greater marketing and commercial strategy aimed at attracting users to choose your booking system directly. Always bear-in-mind that OTAs specialise in this area, they closely follow customer, booking and technology trends to make their websites more attractive and easier for both on the desktop and rapidly growing mobile user needs.


Let me reveal 5 tips that can help you to capture these customers and convince them that the best option is the direct channel.


1. Visibility of your Hotel

OTAs spend a lot of money and effort to dominate the internet and create a user-friendly easy booking system to attract a great audience. One of the requirements to increase direct sales is for the hotel to be visible to this audience when they are searching for a hotel.


I have previously shared two article, I would suggest having a look at them by double-clicking highlighted titles; Creating Strategy Driven Digital Marketing Plan to explain how to create an effective plan and SEO Tools Guide to list most useful tools to achieve this target.


The first step to encourage direct sales and attracting an audience is to improve the visibility of your webpage by applying effective digital marketing techniques. This is crucially important but not enough alone, as more than 70% of potential bookers who visit hotel website, leave without making any booking. Therefore, positioning, content, an effective booking system and offering value-added differentiators vs OTAs makes all the difference when you grab their attention.


2. Creating a competitive edge with exclusivity

Due to the nature of contracts between hotels and the OTAs, they cannot sell your hotels cheaper than your prices adversely you cannot offer more competitive prices on your website. Saying that you can offer more favourable conditions on your website to gain an advantage;


One of the critical strategies you can implement is that do not include non-refundable rates with other platforms and this will give you an edge vs other platform and provide an extra motivation to your potential customer to book through your website.


3. Incentivize direct bookings

When the rates are similar you need to offer some incentive that captures the attention of the potential customers to book with you. To be able to do that you need to understand what your audience wants and create added value without breaking the bank.


This could be free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast or free Spa treatment; you could add more to this list. The incentive should be something that appreciated by the guests giving a strong reason and differential fact when making the decision to make the reservation through the hotel website or another platform.


4. Rewarding direct customers

Once you get a direct booking it means you did some of the above steps to grab their attention. Of course, you could do it again and again to get more direct bookings.


However, retaining direct customers for their future bookings gives you continuous profit advantage. Considering previously mentioned price parity agreements, you have limited options to play with the rate on the public stage. However, it does not stop you to offer special promotional code directly to your previous direct booking customers.


If they know the next reservation period your Front Desk or reservations could arrange it while they are at your property. Alternatively, you could embed promotional code in your booking engine and give a special code to your direct booking customers, so that when they decided to make another reservation they could get an additional discount on official rates which allows