How to practically increase direct bookings
In today’s fast-paced and highly competitive hospitality industry, it may be quite challenging to keep your hotel or property brand afloat, especially in an already teeming landscape that’s overflowing with competition. In addition, costs of operations are undoubtedly on the rise as consumer preferences evolve and escalate for better, more exquisite services and amenities. To top it all off, the overbearing domination of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) is becoming a big concern due to rising costs; put it all together and these challenges explain why many hotels are struggling to break even.
Luckily, you can now increase income, occupancy, and exposure through direct bookings and at affordable costs. Direct bookings are also better for your hotel’s bottom line as it cost the lowest in terms of acquisitions. If you are operating under the yoke of high OTA commissions, here are some tips that can help you to increase occupancy via direct bookings:
- Leverage data analytics – Use data available at hand to understand your target customers and your hotel’s unique selling points (USP). From here you can uncover more about your guests; why they chose your hotel or property, what they spend their money on and what makes them happy. Analyzing this data will help you to direct your marketing and sales efforts more effectively and therefore increase your ROIs.
- Professional and user-friendly website – Your website should be as user-friendly and as compelling as possible for seamless and hassle-free user experiences. Customers will enjoy visiting your website if you keep it simple, easy to navigate, enjoyable to read and easy enough to book, cancel and get feedback. A responsive website is also crucial, as nothing would turn potential customers off more than a slow and complicated site. Above all, ensure that your website is mobile-friendly and would automatically adjust itself to fit all screen sizes. While you’re at it, do make use of Google Analytics and other metric tools to keep track of visitors.
- Add an online booking form – Make sure you have a direct booking button clearly displayed on all the pages of your website because most customers are in fact looking for this. In the age where travel is mostly booked via online channels, a direct booking button would further expedite the process. Make sure the booking process is simple and easy while assuring customers that your site is secure before finally providing automatic confirmation. Again, a mobile-friendly online booking form is crucial as many travelers are booking their stays through mobile devices.
- Offer value-added packages – Highlight the benefits of booking directly via your website to make potential customers see the value of direct bookings. Add-ons and further benefits would encourage them to give OTAs a miss but be sure not to provide too many options as it could cause confusion and hinder from final purchase.
- Promote special deals – Offer discounts or extra benefits to a limited number of guests to boost direct bookings via exclusive channels such as email subscribers, social media followers, and loyalty program members. This is a great way to readily boost direct bookings to your hotel or property without breaching any rate parity agreements with your OTAs.
- Leverage social media platforms – Keep your target audiences engaged and interested through various social media platforms where there are no limits to the number of interesting and captivating offers, photos and content that you can post to draw interests. Feel free to post photos, videos, photos and more on your hotel and its facility to garner attention. Link these posts back to your website whenever possible.
- Make and share videos – Video is the future of online marketing and a favorite among internet users. Based on this fact, you need to create captivating clips and add them on your website. A good video would increase visitors’ time on your site and encourage them to explore your website’s pages. Maximize your outreach and share the video on social media and YouTube. Be sure to link it back to your official website and your “Book Now” button page.
- Introduce a loyalty program – Consumers love saving on expenses while receiving perks and other discounts and a hotel loyalty program offers them this chance. Add this information on your website and offer discounts and other benefits to encourage guests to book directly with you.
- Try remarketing – When a potential customer visits your website and then abandons the booking process when it is almost complete, don’t just let them leave but instead re-engage them with remarketing. You can track such visitors and target them with custom Ads to bring them back to your hotel’s booking platform.
- User-generated content (UGC) – Most internet users trust honest user reviews and authentic testimonials. Include guest reviews on your hotel’s website and add trust symbols such as TripAdvisor badges to showcase your brand’s stellar reputation.
- Make yourself easily accessible – It goes without saying that tour online booking process should be easy and fast. In addition, do make sure your contact details are readily available on all pages and more importantly, have open channels to enable prospective clients to reach you quickly. In this day and age, it is imperative to allow for communication across various platforms including Social Media, texts, emails and phone calls.
It is true that OTAs will still play major roles in hotel bookings but you can now use these tips to increase occupancy and income in a more affordable way.
While these tips are very practical, you may need someone to help you to strategize and execute all of the above for an impactful and successful online marketing campaign. Island Media Management is the leading digital marketing agency in Bali, Indonesia that is able to handle all the hard social media aspects of your business while helping you to increase your ROI through online marketing. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us today!