If you’re looking to improve your hotel’s revenue, then increasing direct bookings is a great place to start. But what are direct bookings? How do they differ from other ways guests make reservations? And how can you push your hotel toward securing more of them? Read on to find out!
While the term might appear a bit esoteric, this one’s actually fairly straightforward. Direct bookings are, simply put, the reservations that are made through your hotel itself. This sets them apart from third party bookings, which these days are generally made through online travel agencies. These agencies, also known as OTAs, tend to form the bulk of most hotels’ bookings. If you’ve ever used booking.com, Expedia, Agoda, or Airbnb, to name just a few, than you should be familiar with how an OTA works.
The advantages of direct bookings are immediately obvious. The commission fee that would have gone to an online travel agency goes directly to you instead. By cutting out the middleman, you can increase your hotel’s revenue, while reducing your reliance on third parties. The importance of this shouldn’t be understated. While OTAs and other third parties take a cut of each and every room booked through them, with direct bookings, everything goes straight to you.
Without question, the single most important facet of direct bookings is your hotel’s website. It is through your website that potential guests will find more information about your residence. And, ultimately, it is through your site that they will, or won’t, book a room directly.
If your website still looks like it was developed in the late ‘90s, you’re going to have a harder time securing direct bookings. To put it another way: invest in your website!
While it may seem like a large undertaking, it’s absolutely crucial. Your website needs to be sleek and well-designed to attract more guests. This is your chance to showcase your hotel or residence to potential guests: make the most of it! An out-of-date website can be an immediate turn-off for would-be visitors. In the same way, a fresh, sleek homepage featuring photos of and information about your outstanding accommodations can go a long way toward convincing guests that their next stay should be with you.
In addition to being attractive, your site needs to be well-designed as well. Make sure that your booking engine is prominently displayed on your homepage, and that the entire booking process is as simple and intuitive as possible. Naturally, user-friendly cloud-based hotel software can help make this seemingly daunting task far simpler.
When designing or redesigning your website, keep in mind the question of how potential guests will be viewing it. For while your site may be designed first and foremost with computer browsers in mind, many, perhaps even a majority, of people will first see it on their smartphone. It’s important, then, to make sure that your website looks good, and functions properly, on mobile devices as well.
Negative reviews and low online ratings can be a devastating blow for any hotel. Surveys and studies clearly demonstrate that potential guests rely heavily on such ratings when making booking decisions. Do your best, then, to ensure favorable reviews make their way online, in order to balance out the (hopefully) few negative ones that will inevitably come your way.
First and foremost, ensure that your hotel is focused on better guest experience. A happy, satisfied guest, who feels that his needs are being met, is a good reviewer. As we’ve noted in previous blog posts, little things such as gifts and feedback forms can go a long way toward improving guest satisfaction. And when negative reviews do come, be sure to engage with them. While it may feel like a waste of time, it certainly isn’t. Having an active, positive, and professional online presence shows potential guests that you take their concerns seriously. This, in turn, might just make them more likely to book with you.
Make direct bookings attractive with incentives, promotions, and rewards! While this last step may cost you a bit of money, it is well worth it, in that any incentives or rewards you may provide will increase your direct bookings. Think of it this way: you’re still saving money when compared to the fees you would otherwise pay to an OTA.
And when it comes to what sorts of incentives you can provide, the only limit is your imagination. Special discounted rates for direct bookings are an obvious place to start. You could also provide vouchers for free or discounted services such as room service or spa amenities. If you lack such facilities, providing tickets for local attractions such as guided city tours, museums, or concerts are a great way to convince potential guests to book directly through your hotel.
For more hotel management insights, read our other blogpost about hotel KPIs to track!