Direct bookings – every hospitality business wants them. Online Travel Agencies are great for picking up new customers, but they also take a cut of your rates. With pricing parity policies now in place on most of the major OTAs, it isn’t as simple as offering cheaper rates for direct bookings. You need to work a little harder on your marketing strategy and perks to make sure guests book through you. These are some great ways to bring in more direct bookings for your small hospitality business.
Optimise your website for direct bookings
Your website might be the first thing potential guests will see. For direct bookings, you need to make sure your website is informative and encourages guests to book from it. Software Advice have some great tips on their blog for optimising your property’s website. Including a pop-up on the homepage with information about offers and perks is a great way to encourage instant booking. Aside from this your page should also have plenty of call-to-action buttons allowing guests to book with ease and find the most important information.
You should also make sure your website is adequately optimised for mobile. Customers are increasingly using mobile devices to book travel, so not taking this into account will have you behind in direct bookings. Econsultancy suggest that mobile optimisation will create a better guest experience and encourage repeat bookings in future. Not only should you allow booking via mobile – you also need to consider mobile check-in and perks.
Work with influencers
Influencers are a very important tool for getting direct bookings. They can encourage guests to book with you directly rather than through OTAs. Big Hospitality say that you want the influencer to be authentic. Customers are increasingly looking for genuine recommendations from online influencers, so whoever you work with should be well known for their authentic reviews and great content.
Rotacloud have a great guide on their website to using influencers. There are multiple benefits to using this style of marketing. Influencers are often more affordable than traditional marketing methods. They also allow you to reach a wider market without relying on OTAs. Influencer marketing works well if your property is located in a great area and is visually appealing. Attractive photography is key for allowing influencers to entice future guests to your business.
Offer perks and discounts
As mentioned by Ideas, guest incentives will encourage customers to book directly with you. With many OTAs offering price parity schemes, this needs to be something more than just lower rates. You can offer discounts to previous guests if they book directly using an offer code. This price cannot be matched by the OTAs, as it is only for specific customers.
For new bookings, you can also offer specific perks on extra services you provide. This not only overcomes price matching issues, but also encourages them to spend a little extra whilst staying at your property. Hotel News Resource suggest perks such as free spa coupons and discounts on food. Do you also run an experience? Offer it at a substantial discount, or for free, with direct bookings.
Gather insights and statistics
Though not the most exciting part of marketing, insights are important for honing your campaign. With the right amount of work and optimisation, they can help you bring in more direct bookings. Hotelogix recommend keeping an eye on how visitors interact with your website. Certain tools will allow you to see when visitors leave your website. If a customer has left just before clicking the book now button, send them an offer to entice them to make the booking.
You can also use your booking data to identify which demographics to target. Webrezpro recommend checking information on the kind of customers that book, and why they usually book. Demographics information is easy to store, and there are a few tricks to figuring out why customers choose your property over others in the area. Keep an eye on the content of reviews to see what guests most enjoy about your business. Great customer service at your property will also encourage guests to be more open about why they like your accommodation. This information allows you to emphasise these areas in your marketing materials.
Produce high quality marketing content
Net Affinity have some excellent tips on creating great marketing content. Images need to be high quality, copy needs to be well written and your website should have an impressive design and layout. Visual content is what will drive many guests to booking. Your photos and videos need to show off the best parts of your property and make the guest want to be there. Written content also needs to be well crafted. It should flow well, use simple language and fit in with the tone you want your brand to have.
You also want to use data gathered offline to optimise your online content. As mentioned by E-marketing Associates, asking existing customers the right questions can give you an idea of how to encourage future direct bookings. Figure out the needs and wants of your guests, and write about them in your blog. You can also figure out what to include in images of your property, and how to hone your marketing voice.
Increasing direct bookings can be a slow process to begin with, but with the right amount of work you will eventually start to notice a difference. Your guests, and future customers, should be aware of the benefits of booking directly. You also need to make sure you are getting the right message out there. By targeting more carefully and upgrading your marketing strategy you will start to gain direct bookings a lot easier.
Need some more tips? I have created a Free 5 Step email guide so you can increase your direct bookings. To get your copy go to www.boostly.co.uk/free