How to Turn an OTA Acquisition into a Loyal Guest
So you get a booking from an OTA. You’re excited, but also wish that the booking had come direct so you didn’t have to pay commission. It’s ok...there’s still a way to turn that OTA booking into future direct revenue.
The answer is simple: control the onsite experience. OTAs are not going anywhere soon, but there is a way to counter their strategies and make the most out of their acquisitions. The major advantage that hotels have over OTA is the onsite experience, which in turn can drive guest loyalty.
Here are a few ways to improve your hotel’s onsite experience, build loyalty, and drive future bookings.
Start from the Beginning
Before the guest arrives at your hotel, there are a few things you already know about them. Other than their contact details, you are also usually aware of their booking method. If they used an OTA to book their stay with your hotel, you can use that information to identify ways to enhance their guest experience. For example, instead of assigning them to a room by the stairwell with a view of the alley, consider providing a better experience by placing them in a top-floor room with a great view of the city.
Communication is Key
Once your guest is onsite and settled into the perfect room, there are many ways you can continue to dazzle and delight your guest. Often more important (and cheaper) than offering additional amenities or upgrades is ensuring that the guest has a convenient way to communicate with your hotel staff. All hotel guests will inevitably have questions, comments, or concerns during their stay. But how is your hotel reacting to those communication needs?
Research shows that nearly 80% of your customers prefer to use SMS to interact your business. Therefore, hotels have started adopting guest messaging solutions to help open lines of communication and benefit from service recovery more efficiently. These products allow the hotel staff to engage with guests via their preferred methods of communication: text, email, and Facebook Messenger. The outcome is a better stay for your guest, and hopefully, a more brand loyal customer.
There’s a reason that “loyalty” has become the ultimate hospitality buzzword for 2016. Many of the major hotel players have rolled out big-budget marketing campaigns around their loyalty programs this year with the ultimate goal of battling OTA bookings. But while loyalty, driven by a great onsite experience, is helpful to driving direct, it isn’t the only factor.