6 Clever Ways to Encourage More Direct Bookings
Let’s get straight to business. Direct bookings are every hotelier’s goal in terms of reservations and revenue. While distributing your hotel listing on third parties is unavoidable these days, the best-case scenario is still the one in which travelers book direct and save you the commission.
Still, many hoteliers sometimes struggle to increase their number of direct bookings. This can be caused by a lack of visibility of the topic, a faulty direct booking program, or the improper optimization of certain features and listings. Small details that are easily overlooked can be turned into solid strategies of encouraging direct bookings - if you have the necessary insights. This is what we are going to explore in this article, where we break down 6 of the best ways to get more direct bookings and encourage travelers to go straight to the source, instead of taking a detour through OTAs.
These campaigns are the most common way to attract direct bookings and many industry giants have hopped on board with this strategy with a proven payoff. As a hotelier, the biggest struggle standing between you and direct bookings is the traveler booking behavior, which can be adjusted and changed through your efforts. #BookDirect campaigns ensure that you reach your clients and prospects through various marketing means while educating the benefits you offer for those who book direct. These type of campaigns should emphasize the fact that, through the completion of direct bookings on the brand website, travelers get the best possible rate. However, the point is not to shift the spotlight on the rivalry between the hotel and OTAs, but to highlight the benefits of booking direct, the ease of it, and the better guest experience.
Google listing and reviews
The vast majority of consumers begin any purchase journey on Google - that’s a fact proven by one of our previous research papers. It’s no surprise that businesses lacking information on their Google listing or just don’t pay proper attention to it can miss out on clients. A hotel’s presence on Google is crucial and can easily redirect travelers to the hotel website in order to facilitate a direct booking. Also, don’t overlook the weight of Google reviews which our research unveiled to be the second most important review source followed closely by the TrustYou Surveys. To make operations easier, we have recently integrated Google Direct Responses in our feedback solution to enable hoteliers to easily reply to their Google reviews without having to complete a different sign-in when managing online feedback. Present travelers with a complete and thorough Google listing, along with a sign of involvement and care from the management (signaled by the replies to the Google reviews). In this way, they will be more likely to book the hotel and they can easily be directed towards the brand website.
Review marketing on the brand website
One of the reasons why hotels miss out on direct booking opportunities is the lack of necessary information on the brand website. When making a booking, travelers consider several things: our research revealed that after price, a hotel’s reputation is the second most important factor that influences the booking decision. This is why it is crucial to allow travelers to have access to your hotel’s reviews and ratings on the hotel website before they decide if the information presented is enough to not redirect their search towards OTAs. The easiest way to display your current reputation, in a visual and engaging way, is by incorporating the TrustYou Meta-Review and/or TrustScore widget. These features represent the summarized review content and ratings gathered from your previous guests’ feedback and can be easily incorporated on the hotel website. For reference, we recommend checking out this article to see how our trusted clients leverage the Meta-Review and score to display their positive reputation to encourage more direct bookings. Also, you can access this case study to see an in-depth example of how NH Hotels use review widgets to their advantage.
Fast, efficient Internet Booking Engine
In order to facilitate the direct booking process, it’s essential to invest in an efficient and fast internet booking engine on your hotel website. The whole point of it is to encourage travelers to make the booking on-the-spot while visiting your website, which can only be achieved by making the booking process at least as easy as on a third-party platform. Keep in mind that modern travelers focus on immediacy. The booking experience should be seamless and quick - no one wants to spend more than a few minutes on this matter. Also, make sure that you provide different payment methods to ensure that users have options to choose from. The importance of an efficient IBE is something that we have explored in-depth in our eBook: “The Hotelier’s Tech Stack Guide - Must-Have Technologies that Impact the Guest Journey”.
Optimized mobile bookings
On the same note, let’s also talk about mobile bookings. Reports have shown that in 2018, bookings on mobile devices grew 3-10X faster than on desktop compared to 2016. Also, Phocuswire revealed that OTAs dominate mobile bookings since they historically invested in technology more than any other travel supplier. As in any other industry, hospitality also revolves around consumers’ demand and 82% of travel bookings in 2018 were completed via a website or mobile app. It’s easy to understand the current booking behavior of travelers. The key takeaway here is the need for an optimized mobile booking process - the entire experience should be as easy and enjoyable as it is on desktop.
As we have discussed in our most recent article, guest loyalty and direct booking are often interlinked. Big industry players have shown how their direct booking programs have generated loyal guests. This can also go the other way if you educate your guests about the benefits of booking direct. Once you create a database of recurring guests and you encourage them to register for a loyalty program, it becomes easier to communicate with them and reward them for their direct booking. Keep in mind that modern travelers seek instant gratification and rewarding them with “on-the-spot” perks is often times, the best way to go.