As nice as it would be, it’s impossible to collect 100% of your bookings directly through your website.
A commission-free booking is always a blessing for a B&B but the fact is online travel agents have a lot of power and money. They are very effective at capturing bookings so the necessity of these channels will always remain.
Metasearch sites like TripAdvisor and Google are also offering bookings, making the challenge even harder for small accommodation providers.
The good news is that soon the majority of all bookings will be made online, giving you a better chance to secure the direct bookings you want. To compete with the larger channels however, your booking process needs to match, if not surpass, the OTAs.
This means making your website simple, easy to understand, smooth, and secure. By taking a methodical approach and covering all bases, you can get the best out of your direct booking strategy.
Here are our tips to solve your direct booking dilemma:
This is perhaps the most important thing you can do. With the rise in prominence of mobile devices Tnooz reports 25% of bookings now come from mobile and 50% more travellers complete a booking if the site is mobile-optimized. It also gives travellers more opportunity to make bookings on the run or at short notice and you should cater for this by displaying last-minute promotions.
Given that 40% of travellers don’t make a booking on their first visit to your website, you need to increase your chances of capturing them the first time around, lest they book elsewhere. One way to do this is to engage them with high-quality images that invoke a sense of warmth and welcome. You want your guests to imagine themselves curled up in bed and getting pampered. You also need to optimize your images for the web so they don’t impinge on the functionality of your website load time.
Even if a guest discovers your property on an OTA, they may still visit your website and ultimately make their booking directly with you. This is an example of the billboard effect. To increase your conversions from this scenario, your booking process must be as painless as possible so they guest can complete a booking quickly. A booking engine that will enable guests to purchase extras during this phase will also be beneficial.
Even something as simple as letting a guest choose what’s in their minibar will put them in a positive frame of mind and let them know you are providing them the freedom of choice they desire. It’s touches like this that make them more likely to join your loyalty program, which you should have in place. Offering exclusive deals and promotions to those who join will hold your hotel in good stead for repeat bookings in the future. This can also extend to social media, if you offer discounts or free wifi to your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram followers.
While it may be difficult for some businesses or a short-term option for others, it’s worth looking into implementing tactics like retargeting. This is likely to increase your bookings so find an option that will work best with your respective property.
If you have a booking engine that is cloud-based you can gain immediate access to all the guest information you need. This will enable you to give repeat bookers their favourite room, personalize emails, and better analyze your business.
Sign up to our blog and receive regular updates on the content you're intoSign up now
Send this to a friend