My Number 1 Tip To Converting an OTA booking to a direct booking

Welcome to Boostly Podcast Season 11 Episode 54. This is a recap of my Facebook live where I talked about my number 1 tip to convert an OTA booking to a direct booking.

Here's the audio for this episode:

Here's the video for this episode:

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Audio – Boostly Podcast





00:00 Start
02:10 Simplest way to convert an OTA booking to a direct booking
03:30 About incentives
06:15 What happens to my OTA ranking?

Transcript from the Episode

Today is a really big episode because I'm going to show you today the most simplest way of converting an OTA booking into a direct booking. And it all goes down in the email. Now I've spoken about this plenty of times before but it's always good to have a refresh. So what happens is that when a booking comes in via an OTA, the PMS provider will automatically send out an automated email and it's a confirmation email. And in that confirmation email, what you'll find is that it normally just gives the basic information. So in that basic information, it will say something along the lines of dear Mark, thank you so much for your reservation. Just to let you know that your checking dates are x your checkout dates are why and your price your cost your stay is x y and Zed. Okay, well, that's very standard. But what you got the ability to, you've got the ability to amend these.

Now this is something that we've been doing for years, and it really works very, very, very, very well. And here's what you're gonna do. So in that automated email, you're going to change the wording slightly. But before you do this, it's really important that you go and make these changes in your PMS and on your OTA sites as well.

About incentives

So let's just talk about incentives for a second. Now when it comes to booking direct, we naturally assume and wrongly assume that the reason why a guest would maybe book direct is to save money. Now money does play a part but it's not the only part what guests really want. And what we want is incentives. So for example, you look at what the Hilton the Marriott and these big chains do. And when you book direct with them, you get free Wi-Fi access. You can get early check-in time, you maybe get a free breakfast, for example. So nice incentives and people do book direct because of it. So I saw these big chains doing it Marriott, Hilton, etc. and I thought well why don't we do it? Why don't small hospitality owners do it?

So we started doing this. When a guest would make a booking via an OTA we would send them an automated email. Now what we did at the Grainary is, our check-in time has always been 1 pm always has, always will 1 pm. We went to the otas and Airbnb,, Expedia, etc. We changed our check-in time on their sites to 4 pm so we moved it back three hours. And in the email confirmation that we sent out. We put in that dear guests. Thank you so much for your booking just to confirm your reservation with us. Your checking date is the first of April and your checkout date is the fifth of April. total price for your stay is at We have some very important information, checking information about your stay, please do read. So we're going to make sure that they read. And the first thing we're talking about is the check-in time. If you have checked with us directly with us, which is email, phone call website, you're checking time is 1 pm. If you're booked with us via a third party, and we named them iE, Airbnb Expedia, your check-in time is 4pm.

We said something else little minor. And it will be if you would like to discuss your stay with us, here's our direct line, please call. Now when a guest gets that email, and if you think about, you know, what happens when you go on a drive, etc, and you come to a vacation, you don't want to be hanging around. So they hate to feel like they're being hard done by and they want to have an incentive. And a lot of the times they never, they don't know the benefits of booking direct. So what you would find is that that guests would call you. And they would say, Hey, Mark, I got your email. Thank you so much. But I want to have the direct booking check in time. So you've and very simply just move them over and you say no problem. So all you need to do, can you please confirm to me your email address number one, you get their real email, which is key. And say number two, again, is confirmed to me for security, your card details so I can verify you. So then you've got the card, and you've got the email. Fantastic. So Mr. Guest, all I need you to do just so we can switch you to this earlier check in time, just had open up, Airbnb and you can do it with them while we're on the phone. Just hit the Cancel button for me because I can't do it for you. And then I'll book you in.

What happens to my OTA ranking?

Now, you may be thinking, Well, that sounds fantastic. But what happens to my ranking well with Airbnb or told me off No, because it's the guest is cancelling this day, you have not initiated it, you have not forced it, they have done it themselves, they've contacted you an average of 38% of all bookings on get cancelled, and they get cancelled by the guests. So the booking rates are high. And the booking cancellation policy doesn't affect your ranking in any way, shape, or form. The only way that your ranking on Airbnb or guests effect is if you cancel that stay, that is the worst of the worst. That's how you lose super host status as how you lose all of the status. So by the guest cancel, no, it doesn't affect you, you get the direct booking, you save on the commission cost, the guest gets the earlier check in time. And if you even want to sweeten it slightly, you could say, all knock off 5% of your fee as well. You don't have to, but it helps now and again.

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