Increase Direct Bookings For Hotels: Apply These Strategies Now!
A Hotelier has two ways to get bookings on his hotel website, direct bookings or OTAs. Each has its advantage and disadvantages. OTA platforms give a readymade platform to the hotel by listing the hotel in their platform. However, OTAs charge a commission, which is a major expense a hotel wants to avoid.
"How can we save on direct commission?" - is a question hoteliers ask regularly. The answer to that is increasing direct bookings on your hotel website. However, it can be time-consuming and will also require expertise to optimise the hotel website. Plus, many hoteliers are confused about how to increase direct bookings for their hotel. I am sure the person reading this is also confused as to how to go about it.
We have, therefore, explained some strategies to increase direct bookings on your hotel website!
You Might Ask, “What Are Direct Bookings In The Hotel Industry?”
Bookings made directly on your hotel website is known as direct bookings, without the involvement of any third party. Direct bookings can save you a lot of commission. It can save you commission and give you more control over your booking process, unlike OTAs, where you are a passive participant after setting up the listing.
A hotelier will always desire to save on commission and direct control over their booking process. However, you will need to do some work on it and learn to make direct bookings work for you!
Strategies To Increase Direct Bookings On Your Hotel’s Website
These are some of the strategies you need to follow to increase direct bookings on your hotel’s website!
1. Integrate Booking Engine To Your Hotel Website
Your website may be responsive, well designed and relevant. However, if you don't integrate the booking engine into your hotel website, then it is a dead-end as far as direct booking is concerned. You need to integrate the best and most effective booking engine, to facilitate direct bookings from the website itself.
A booking engine that just collects direct bookings isn’t sufficient in itself, it should encourage website visitors to become bookings. For this, you need to make it interactive, seamless and neatly placed on your website to increase direct bookings for your hotel.
2. Have A Mobile-Friendly Website For Direct Bookings
Most internet users are on their smartphones. So naturally, most of them use their mobiles to book hotel rooms. Having a mobile-friendly hotel website is essential for a seamless and enjoyable customer experience. It should be accessible and usable on all devices, mobiles, laptops, tablets and desktops. The more accessible you are, the more visitors will book directly on your website.
The first page the visitor comes across is the homepage. So give as much information as possible on the homepage. Highlight your unique selling points (USPs) and other amenities to encourage your potential guests to book from your website.
3. Use Attractive CTAs On Your Website
In most cases, the customer will visit the website, read the content, and then go to the OTA to book it. Why? You may ask. The reason is that without a good Call-to-action aka CTA, you will not be able to encourage the website visitors to book directly on the booking engine. CTA means the BOOK NOW button on the website or a booking box. This will help increase direct bookings for your hotel.
Use an attractive CTA that will encourage the customer to come to the booking engine, and complete the booking process then and there itself.
4. Highlight The Social Proofs - Reviews, Images And More
A customer needs to be assured that your service is reliable, popular and recommended. You need to ensure that your website highlights the social proof on your website. Guest will not book a hotel without checking hotel ratings, customer testimonials, social media following etc.
While highlighting your website, you are giving assurance to your visitor that your property is trusted. It will also encourage the customers to book from your website since it will make them attracted to your hotel as well as give your website a sophisticated appeal. This will help increase direct bookings.
5. Optimize For Hotel Website For SEO (Especially For Google)
If you want to increase direct bookings for your hotel, you will need to ensure that your website is visible to your guest. For that, you will need to perform Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO. SEO is the process by which you optimise your website to rank higher amongst the millions of Search Engine Page Results (SERPs) when a particular query is searched.
Google is the most used search engine, and hence, this is where you want your property to be. The parameters on which Google ranks search paper on google is relevancy and organic traffic. Some of the most important practices of SEO include:
Use relevant keywords on your website, in the proper amount and properly placed within the website content.
Organize the website content needly with headings, content, navigating menu and different webpages, in a streamlined and efficient manner.
Use hyperlinks to link to different pages on your website. Inbound links will also make the customer experience seamless and help your website rankings. Internal links to different pages on your hotel website will improve your website quality.
Use images and graphics to make it attractive. Use keywords in your alt text.
6. Allow Visitors To Compare Rates On Your Hotel Website Itself
Many potential hotel guests visit the website, gather information and then go to the OTA platforms to complete the booking. The reason is pricing and discount. You can give a comparison of your price and the price of different OTAs on your website itself.
To increase direct bookings, you should give special prices, offers and discounts to encourage them to book directly from your website, rather than OTAs.
7. Use Widgets To Enhance a Hotel Website’s Experience
Engaging with your customers daily can encourage them to be your customers. How to engage with your customers? You should use booking engines that have plug and play widgets built into them. These include exit pop-ups, quick notifications, welcome box and many more. They will engage with your customers directly and encourage them to book directly from your website.
8. Use Live Chat Box To Handle Customer Queries
A hotel website visitor will have several queries. You will need to answer their questions directly and instantly. Otherwise, they will leave your platform. They want answers within a few minutes. This will hamper your opportunities to increase direct bookings from your hotel website.
Live Chatbox can be your friend. Through this, you will be able to instantly provide answers to the website visitor’s queries. When they will get answers quickly, they will be able to make decisions quickly. This enhanced experience will make your website better than in the OTAs in service and will increase website bookings.
9. Allow Customers To Book Directly From The Social Media Handle
With the rapid growth of social media, hotel marketing has grown tremendously. You can use social media to encourage direct bookings from your website. Instagram and Facebook have “Book Now” buttons, which will lead the visitor directly to the website to book it.
This will hit two birds with one stone. One, it will make your social media business handle more complete since you are providing them with an option to book. It will also help customers to book directly from the hotel website.
10. Run Online Ads To Get Visitors
Your marketing strategy should attract different types of visitors - visitors who use OTAs, new bookers and even those who visited your website once. Online Ads will let you target many types of customers. You can run ads on many platforms as well as target different segments of customers. These ads can be run on Google, Facebook, Instagram and several other online platforms. These ads can lead the customer to book directly on your platform.
With these strategies, you can increase direct bookings on your website. Direct bookings are gaining in popularity with hoteliers because you can save up on commission as well as have complete control over your booking process. You can read more blogs on Bigfoot Hospitality to learn about various aspects of the hospitality industry.
Bigfoot Hospitality is a Hotel Revenue Management and Hotel Marketing Company which will take your revenue management and marketing to the next level.