Hotel operators often prioritize their online distribution strategy, and with good reason. An ever-increasing number of travelers are relying on online channels to gather information about accommodations abroad and ultimately book the right place for their upcoming stay, making online booking channels pivotal to the overall success of these properties.
However, small hoteliers and bed and breakfast owners still need to create a diversified distribution network filled with a variety of booking channels, including walk-in reservations.
Here’s 6 reasons to maintain a diverse online distribution network, including walk-in reservations:
- Online travel agents only account for about 25% of online bookings for hotels and B&Bs, so you will still want to prioritize the direct relationship with your customers. You cannot rely solely on the marketing materials and the promotions that are offered by OTAs. While these are valuable and beneficial for your business, OTAs will not be able to sustain your business for the long-term. A diverse distribution mix is critical to surviving in a variety of economic climates in the travel industry.
- Online reviews can drive bookings from all different marketing segments, including travelers who are making last-minute decisions once they have arrived in their destination. Encouraging online feedback allows you to build your brand reputation by offering objective, honest information from past and current customers.
- Loyalty programs can be designed to increase not only online B&B bookings but also direct, walk-in bookings. Create loyalty programs that not only reward your current guests, but also encourage your guests to recommend your property to their family members and friends. Promo codes for repeat bookings as well as upgrade rewards are powerful loyalty program options.
- Partnerships with OTAs allow hoteliers to expand their brand presence and identity, but these online bookings can impact the amount of revenue generated. Direct bookings allow hotel operators to maximize the revenue generated per customer, and are therefore the most valuable type of booking. While it’s impossible to rely solely on direct bookings, you should not ignore the power of traditional walk-in reservations and other types of direct bookings.
- Online bookings and mobile bookings will continue to play an important role in expanding brand identity and growing your customer base, but the right distribution mix will stabilize and strengthen your customer base.
- With a diverse online distribution mix, you can attract both business and leisure travelers. Both traveler markets will rely on mobile technology to learn about local accommodations that have immediate availability. Optimizing your site for mobile bookings is pivotal to developing an effective distribution network.
Achieving the right distribution mix requires you to invest in an affordable property management system that includes an online booking engine as well as a channel manager.
This allows you to partner with various types of distribution agents, from large OTAs to independent agents and local visitor information centres.
With this technology in place, you can increase your online B&B bookings as well as your direct bookings through walk-in reservations.