How do you encourage guests to book directly? You can offer all the discounts, you can give away free nights, but really what they are looking for are the perks.
Perks are the extra special reasons why guests should book directly to you.
For fans of the website Triptease, (as I am) I took their original blog and updated it for the UK audience You can check out the original article by clicking here.
You may be reading this thinking, “I can’t afford to buy that guest a bottle of Prosecco,” but remember, when they book direct, you are saving between 15% and 20% on commission. For a £400 booking, you’ll pay £60 to the OTAS. A bottle of Prosecco costs around £20. That’s a £40 profit!
Open your mind and read the list. Then, let me know what incentives you offer.
A: Airport Shuttle
A godsend for young families and business travellers alike, the free airport shuttle is a classic benefit that’s not be sniffed. (Note: Only applicable to people based within 10 to 15 miles of an airport).
B: Bicycles for every guest
Bike tours and excursions are on the rise with price-savvy guests looking for cheap ways to get around on vacation.
How about a bottle of champagne for guests who book a certain number of dates?
D: Do the guests’ laundry
A free dry-cleaning and laundry service will enchant even the most impassive of direct bookers.
E: Early check-in
Fairly standard, but perennially popular. If you have the capacity to give guests the option, then make sure you’re advertising it.
F: Fitness Classes
Free gym access is, of course, a real pull, but fitness classes combined with the experience factor is becoming indispensable to many travellers. (Note: If you don’t have a gym on site, reach out to a local fitness facility and see if you could work out a really good rate).
G: Gift voucher
Gift vouchers to spend in the hotel are a great way to spark upsell conversations and bring in some ancillary revenue.
H: Homemade Cookies
A direct booking benefit doesn’t have to be big and costly. A free homemade brownie is something you’re never going to get from an OTA and sometimes that thoughtful touch is all you need. A client of mine (Jayne from Summerfield Farm in Whitby) does this, and they go down a treat.
J: Join the preferred program
Draw in those loyalty Magpies by advertising your program alongside your best available rate.
K: Kids toys/books/games
Taking children on holiday is hassle enough. Show parents you’ll do your best to make their lives easier with kid-friendly toys, books, and games in their room or special area.
L: Late Checkout
Obviously, this is not for everyone, and could only really be done on dates where you didn’t have a mass changeover, but it’s something to bear in mind.
M: Midweek discounts
It can be tricky to fill rooms outside of weekends. We’ve seen hotels discount their spa, restaurant and gym services from Monday to Thursday, offering browsers a cheap getaway full of extra treats while filling your otherwise empty rooms.
N: No booking, resort, or hidden fees
Assuage their doubts with an assurance that the price they see really is the price they’re going to get.
P: Priority check-in
For any guest that books with you directly, you should be tailoring your check-in times to prioritise those who book direct. For example, 1 pm for any guest who has booked directly and 2 pm for any guest who has booked in via an OTA.
R: Room upgrade where available
I recommend you use this the most!
S: Spa Discount
If you are lucky enough to have a spa, then this would work well.
T: Travel guide included
Tap into the experience marketplace with a free travel guide for your guests. I recently stayed at a B&B in Knaresborough and the owner had a map designed with local places they recommended. Better yet, he had struck up 10% deals for all of his guests if they chose to go. Great idea.
U: Unlock points to your loyal guests
The age of loyalty is far from over and there are still plenty of points-savvy travellers out there looking for the deal with the highest return.
V: Valet parking
Classics exist for a reason.
W: Welcome Sweet
If you live in a coastal town, what better than a stick of rock waiting for them in the room?
X: Xpress shuttle
Okay, we cheated a bit with this one! In our defence, there aren’t too many benefits that begin with X. Wordplay aside, a complimentary shuttle bus is a great thing to have on offer, especially if you live out of town. If you don’t have the staff or time to do this, why not team up with a local taxi company?
Y: Year-round promotions for your guests
It can be frustrating to be booking an off-season holiday and feel like you’re missing ours on everyone’s seasonal promotions. Reassure guests that they’ll get a special rate whenever they choose to book.
Z: Okay, I couldn’t come up with one for “Z”. Can you?
Email me and let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org!