The hospitality industry is currently going all gaga over direct bookings. This realization has seeped in off late after hoteliers realised that OTAs across the globe are exercising an incredible stronghold overbooking numbers!
“Commissions charged by OTAs are typically 15-30 per cent of the value of the stay although there is anecdotal evidence that they are sometimes even higher than this. –Skift”
While OTAs have been christened as ‘necessary evils’ by industry moguls, eliminating them from the system would be impractical. Doing so would mean hotels are paying for the same by missing out on all the exposure that these OTA sites provide.
“The Priceline Group (booking.com) is reported to be the biggest spender on Google AdWords, with a spend of nearly $1.8 billion in 2014. By dominating in paid search, OTAs have increasingly become a ‘toll booth’ on internet sales of accommodation.” – UK Parliament
Considering the huge market size, the need of the hour is a balanced contact with them. For that to happen, both hotels and B&B operators like you should start leveraging the power of direct bookings. Direct booking is the best way to generate substantial revenue. This route eliminates third-party sites (or so-called ‘agents’) right from scratch. Side by side, you must focus on having a strong online foothold and a robust digital marketing strategy in place. The result? Is nothing but a direct return on your investment which can boost your B&B or hotel’s marketing strategy! Below listed tips will pave the way for you to boost the total count of direct bookings received at your property, be it a Bed & Breakfast or a hotel. Trust me, this will work!
- Optimize your website:- According to Scoop.it, mobile bookings in travel have grown by 1700% between 2011 and 2015 and since March 2016. Being a hotelier, you cannot overlook this figure. Your own website and its booking engine are places where you exercise maximum control. Also, Google prioritises websites in SERPs and penalizes non-mobile-friendly sites. So it’s high time that your hotel had a mobile-friendly website to grab those eyeballs. Ensure a responsive web design with the high loading speed and make your ads mobile-friendly as well.
- Initiate a Rewards Program to Boost customer Loyalty:- You would agree that the hospitality industry thrives on guest loyalty. You should focus on expanding your hotel’s marketing to increase guest loyalty. To make guests choose your brand above the rest, you can have valuable hotel perks in place. For instance, free early check-in and late check-out discounted sightseeing packages in the area or complimentary cocktail with dinner and the like. These tiny gestures can garner a sense of gratitude like never before.
- Offer Walk-in Discounts on Every Booking:- As a hotelier, you are not obligated to accommodate guests arriving without a reservation. But, you can create a new reservation for such a guest if your inventory is available. Offering a special discounted price at this juncture will earn you a brand new loyal customer who will brag about this experience in front of all friends and family for months or maybe years together.
- Invest in Content Marketing and Engage with Customers on Social Media:- Have a strong digital marketing and content marketing strategy in place. Your guests are mostly business travellers or millennials, and both crave for an Instagram-worthy life! With a good content marketing plan, you can fill this niche as well as draw potential customers to your hotel or Bed & Breakfast property. Understand current trends, encourage conversions and listen to your audience on social media 24×7.
- Encourage Online Feedback on Metasearch:- Ask your customers to leave reviews on popular hospitality review sites and portals like Yelp/Trivago/Tripadvisor. Your potential client needs photos, maps, and searches, which these sites provide. If your past customer can leave a review powered by these data points, it will be highly beneficial for your property. This will help you win your battle with the OTAs to draw a customer closer.
“OTAs spend a large proportion of the commissions that they collect on metasearch where they bid against the hotels that pay them the commission.” – Skift
- Provide Free WiFi with Traditional Amenities like Complimentary Breakfast:- believe it or not, free guest WiFi comes with a fast ROI. So does a complimentary breakfast/dinner and free parking. These usually are seen as essential amenities in a hospitality property.
“In a study by Forrester Research, 94% of respondents cited Wi-Fi as important and even a deal-breaker when selecting a hotel. TripAdvisor’s 2015 Trip Barometer report which crosses Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers when travelling for business and/or vacation found that free in-room Wi-Fi ranks as the top must-have amenity.“ – Local measure
You may choose to break the mould of traditional amenities and wake your customers up with amenities which they never expected to experience! For instance, make a hotel room feel like home with a Smart TV and Netflix subscription. Build the credibility of your brand online to boost direct booking. Uncover and apply the above insights to generate more bookings as well as provide a great customer experience. Add social data to the customer profile to calculate your metrics better, and all your efforts will turn into productive investments. All it takes is a little initial effort. It’s that simple! Happy Hoteling! 🙂