The popularity of online travel agencies (OTAs) in the online hotel market reflects a demand for convenience and simplicity from travel bookers. However, while OTAs increase occupancy and exposure, their commission fees also decrease an independent hotel’s bottom line. Creating a strategy for increasing direct bookings will not only slash commission rates and increase profit but will build customer relationships and loyalty by offering unique, personalized incentives and services for booking direct.
Employ a User-Friendly Online Booking Engine
To capture more direct online bookings it is essential for lodging operators to provide a user-friendly online booking engine that allows travelers to book directly through their property’s website. Because convenience and simplicity are two major contributing factors that determine with whom customers will book, an online booking engine must be easy to access and use. Look for a flexible solution that allows you to offer enticing incentives and packages that cannot be found on third-party booking channels to persuade customers that booking direct will give them the best value and travel experience for their money. WebRezPro offers a choice of two flexible, mobile-friendly online booking engines that can be used to drive commission-free direct bookings through a property’s website and that are also fully integrated with the property management system (PMS).Providing a flexible and accessible online booking engine directly impacts the success of your business in an industry characterized by online shopping and personalized services and experiences.
Use Data to Drive Direct Bookings
Recognizing your guest base and why they choose your property is key to creating effective marketing and sales content that generates direct bookings. Using information within your PMS to identify your property’s customer segments and unique selling points (USP) allows you to guide marketing and sales strategies effectively.
Rather than simply slashing rates, use this information to pinpoint what types of travelers you attract and their motivations to book with you, such as what services they enjoy (and spend their money on) and why they choose your property. Knowing this information is crucial for offering unique, personalized services and packages that will inspire new and repeat direct bookings.
Create Value-Added Packages
Encourage your guests to book direct by offering value-added packages that are only available through your website. While price greatly influences travelers, your guests will appreciate getting the most value for their money and may be willing to pay extra in exchange for useful products and services. Package deals offer your guests greater value while also highlighting your property’s strengths and features. Free parking, discounted prices, loyalty and reward points, free breakfast, or exclusive discounts to local attractions and events are some examples of incentives for travelers to book direct.
As mentioned above, loyalty and reward points can be valuable incentives for guests to book directly with you. Simplicity is crucial when creating a loyalty reward program because travelers will not be motivated to book direct if doing so means they are required to complete numerous and inconvenient extra steps. WebRezPro PMS offers an integrated “Rewards Module” as well as integration with loyalty reward platforms, which simplify the reward management process for independent hotels and travelers. Offer points that do not expire and can be cashed in for short-term rewards (e.g., a small welcome gift or a coffee/tea gift card) as well as long-term rewards (e.g., free/discounted stays) to attract both new and frequent guests.
Take Advantage of User-Generated Content
The prevalence and success of platforms that share customer reviews proves that user-generated content (UGC) is a valuable and trusted currency that hoteliers can use to increase bookings and build good reputations. UGC is word of mouth in digital form. Making it incredibly easy to spread and share positive evaluations of your property with various types of travelers, UGC provides great free sales and marketing content. Including guest reviews on your website and social media profiles is an effective way to help turn lookers into direct bookers.
Implementing tactics that motivate travelers to book direct increases your business’s exposure, occupancy, and profits. Take your customer relationships and loyalty to the next level by offering unique, personalized perks and services as incentives for booking direct.