When you were just starting out, a booking was a booking – you didn’t care where it came from. But as your accommodation business grows, you realize that while third party bookings are valuable, they are also expensive!
As a small accommodation provider, how can you increase your share of direct online bookings versus your other paid channels?
Having that balanced split between your booking channels is a healthy part of running a bed and breakfast, small hotel, inn or guesthouse.
Here we discuss the biggest challenges to increasing your share of direct online bookings, and what you can do today to start tipping the scales in your favor.
And now, metasearch sites are following suit – posing a greater challenge for small accommodation providers.
TripAdvisor, Google, and now Trivago are beginning to offer direct bookings through their website. The ‘stickier’ these websites are, the more travelers will choose to use them over your small hotel website.
Start to invest in your own website, because it is imperative that you work on improving your online booking process. The ease of booking directly with you needs to match if not be smoother than booking with OTAs.
Make sure it’s easy to understand what rooms are available and at what rate (don’t overwhelm with too many choices), and that it looks and feels secure to make a booking with you.
Small accommodation providers are pressed for time as it is – you’re busy trying to get everything done as opposed to thinking about how you can do more for your distribution strategy.
There’s simply not enough time or resources to think of ways to improve, so you don’t formalize the effort to increase direct bookings.
Create a clear-cut strategy to get more direct bookings. Some quick things you can do:
How do you foster guest loyalty? How do you gain their trust so that they consistently recommend your hotel to friends, family, and even strangers through online reviews?
Besides offering superior customer service, you need a tool in place to help you bring those guests back!
After all, it will be difficult to keep in touch with each guest and provide a consistent experience, without some way of automating your communications.
Guests expect to be personally remembered, especially after booking a stay at a bed and breakfast. That’s why storing your guests’ data in multiple spreadsheets is not a good long term strategy if you want to foster loyalty. You need to be able to search your database and access their information instantly, when you need it.
Your hotel booking engine should be cloud-based and have a customer database built into it, giving you immediate access to all the guest information you need. That way, when a repeat guest gives you a call to make a booking, you can easily search for them on your database and reserve their favourite room.
Part of the guest experience is how you engage with them before and after their stay. Typically this is done via email.
For example, you can send them a booking confirmation, a reminder before their stay, some tips for what they can do during their stay, and a feedback request following their stay.
Modern hotel booking engines let you schedule and personalise these emails, applying your brand’s colours to each template, and making sure each recipient gets a personal greeting. Each guest receives a consistent experience – whether it’s online or in person – from start to finish.
Want to learn how to achieve the perfect balance when it comes to playing your online channels? Download our free ebook:
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