A guide to the Atacama Desert, courtesy of Awasi

How Bringing In An Experience Will Increase Your Direct Bookings

You've turned down the sheets. You've offered better rates to your OTA bookers. You've updated your web page. All you have to do now is sit back and wait for the direct bookings to roll in. Right?

WRONG! You've just accomplished the basics of modern hospitality. If you want to be on the cutting edge, then you're going to have to offer experiences.

If you're wondering what an experience is, then it's time to catch up, because they're the next big thing in hospitality. Airbnb introduced the idea in 2017, allowing hosts on the site to also offer cooking classes, wine tours, and other locally relevant activities to their guests. Airbnb is your competition, but you have an edge: where Airbnb hosts are amateurs looking for a quick buck, you're a professional. Whatever an Airbnb host can do, you can do better. More than that, you'll be able to use experiences to drive your direct bookings and build a loyal customer base.

It's time to up your game and offer an experience! Here are a few ideas from hospitalities that have seen success.

1.  The Morgan Hotel offers personal shopping with Arnott's

Arnott's in DublinHere's an example of a hospitality beating Airbnb at their own game. Because they are well established, The Morgan was able to leverage its status in the Dublin business community to make a deal with Arnott's, one of Ireland's most respected beauty and fashion suppliers. Now, there's a new reason for guests to stay at The Morgan: they'll get a unique shopping experience on top of a luxury room.

When you click over to the link above – and you should – notice how The Morgan designed that web page. Right at the bottom, where the page lists all of the desirable aspects of their personal shopping experience, there is a large, clear button that reads BOOK NOW.

The Morgan may be a little larger than your average guesthouse, but they operate under the same rules as any other independent property. They know the value of a direct booking. This experience, posh though it may be, is valuable to The Morgan if for no other reason than that someone who reads about it on their website might be motivated to book direct using that button at the bottom of the page. What they'll save on commission may more than pay for a few hours of that personal shopper's time.

It's worth mentioning that Arnott's will see better business, too. People who book this experience are likely to be dedicated shoppers with their credit cards halfway out of their purses. Creating this alliance might have been as easy as calling Arnott's and talking to their general manager.

2. La Maison de Maitre gives wine tours

A statue of Saint Vincent holding grapesWhat do you do if your hospitality is located in wine country? Give wine tours, obviously! La Maison de Maitre of the Loire not only offers unique accommodations, but also capitalises on the fact that many of their guests specifically come to the Loire for wine tasting. Why not offer an affordable, ready-made tour?

La Maison takes the further step of offering their wine tour to non-guests. This may seem odd to you considering our previous example. Don't they want to incentivise people to stay at La Maison specifically?

Not only does offering this experience to non-guests advertise for La Maison, but it also showcases Maison service to guests who might decide to book with this hospitality in the future! Unlike the hospitality where the guests are currently staying, La Maison goes the extra mile. The fact that they give a wine tour tells potential customers that they really love what they do. The guest will quickly decide that they want this level of service throughout their stay and specifically reach out to La Maison next time they want to stay in the Loire.

La Maison can even use their tour material to direct guests to their elegant, one-page website, where customers can then book direct.

3. Stay at The Independent and tour the Gaybourhood

Tourists explore Philadelphia's gay neighborhoodPhiladelphia has a thriving, historic gay neighbourhood. This is why the Independent Hotel cooperated with the William Way Center, a local LGBTQ organization, to give one-hour tours of this area. Better yet, for every guest who signed up for this package, the hospitality donated to local LGBTQ charities.

Obviously, this would have been a great draw for members of the LGBTQ community, especially during Pride. While it doesn't run year-round anymore, this experience goes to show that your hospitality can make the most out of local history and events. Do you have a historical neighbourhood nearby? Show it off! Does your town do an annual celebration, such as a Pride parade, Morris festival, or comic book convention? Reach out to the organisers and find a partner who would be willing to show your guests around.

Guests who book during big events and near historic places are often specifically interested in seeing those. Offer to help and you'll cement your place in their hearts and wallets.

4. Awasi shows their guests the Atacama Desert

A guide to the Atacama Desert, courtesy of AwasiGuests who fly across the world to stay on the edge of the Atacama Desert want to see some serious nature. Awasi makes sure that happens by providing guides and tours. Who else can say that they bring their guests to one of the strangest deserts in the world?

Like La Maison de Maitre, Awasi is in a good geographical position. Not every hotel can say that they've got a famous desert at their doorstep. At the same time, there are many places, both in England and elsewhere, where major landscape features, like moors and mountains, represent a big pull factor for guests. Employing a guide can be a good investment if it makes sure that your guest won't forget your name.

There are tons of experiences that you can offer to customers. Once you do, be sure that you also give them your promotional material and encourage them to book direct for every stay. You can also build your tribe this way, creating a body of customers who come back again and again. What's a tribe, you ask? Watch my video to find out!

If you want more ideas about offering experiences, email me at [email protected].

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