Do you run a serviced accommodation or manage hotel websites? Ditching the OTA’s and generating 0% commission bookings on autopilot may sound like a dream to you…
However, there are a number of things you can do to immediately increase the number of guests booking directly with you. In this blog post, we’ll share 5 quick and easy tips that you can go and implement right away.
Trust me – take action on these quick easy tips and you will see fast results!
What is a Direct Booking?
Direct booking is when you take an online booking through your hotel website or your own website for your serviced accommodation. This means that real guests are coming directly to you, instead of going through an online travel agency (OTA) like Airbnb, Booking, or VRBO.
Why is it Important to Generate Direct Bookings?
Generating direct bookings is so important for a number of reasons. Firstly, when a guest books through an OTA, you have to pay them a whopping commission of typically 15%-20%. This can really eat away at your profits. Additionally, when you get a direct booking, the guest is more likely to be loyal and come back again in the future.
SPOILER ALERT: If you are over-reliant on OTA’s for your bookings then you don’t have a sustainable business. You are at the mercy of Airbnb or Booking’s algorithms, and you are not building a loyal customer base for your serviced accommodation business.
You should see your website as more than just a pretty design, but a direct booking engine that drives results, filling your calendar all year round.
TOP TIP: See where hotels network online, and see what strategies they are employing. Facebook groups are a great way to get inside marketing tips from big hotels.
#1 Make Your Website Mobile-friendly – People are Using their Phones More than Ever to Book Accommodation
As booking accommodation becomes more and more popular, people are relying on their phones to make it happen. Don’t miss out on these direct booking opportunities by not having a mobile-friendly website; you could be losing bookings fast if your website isn’t optimised for smartphones and tablets.
Making sure your website is mobile-friendly may sound obvious, but it really is crucial for getting more direct bookings. You can use tools like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to make sure your website is up to scratch.
Optimise for a great mobile user experience, increase direct booking potential, and make sure you aren’t losing opportunities because of this overlooked mistake.
#2 Use Strong Calls to Action on Your Website and in Your Marketing Materials
A strong call-to-action (CTA) is essential for your website and any of your marketing materials. It motivates potential customers to take the desired action, from making a reservation to subscribing to a newsletter.
Having an effective CTA instantly creates an opportunity to increase your conversion rate, generate more revenue and form a better relationship with guests. For the best results, make sure that the CTA is clear, compelling and enticing.
It should be easy for your visitors to understand what they have to do, why they’re doing it, and how it will help them in some specific way. With carefully crafted CTAs in place on your website and in your marketing materials, you’ll notice an increase in customer engagement, booking directly with your business, as well as increased overall brand loyalty.
#3 Offer Your Guests Discounts or Special Deals Like Your Local Hotel Website Does
Make booking your accommodation more affordable for your guests! Direct booking should be the smart choice, offer discounts and special deals that can’t be found anywhere else. Whether it’s a lower cost per night or a larger discount over multiple bookings, appealing to your guests with an offer they can’t refuse is an excellent way to boost occupancy.
What special offers and discounts you offer may vary depending on the season, but you can consider things such as reduced rates for returning guests, discounts code when they book direct or limited-time offers.
These deals are great ways to entice guests who might be on the fence about booking with your business directly – and they’re a surefire way to boost direct bookings.
Let them know you appreciate their loyalty in dealing with you directly and they’ll keep coming back again and again. Offer now and reap the rewards all year round!
#4 Create a Loyalty Program for Your Guests to Encourage Repeat Bookings
This one doesn’t have to be complicated! Creating a loyalty program for your guests is an excellent way to foster repeat bookings with your accommodation. A simple rewards program, such as one where points are accumulated each time they stay with you, will encourage guests to return again and again. It’s also a great opportunity to let them know how much you appreciate their continued business and trust in your services.
Hotel brands tend to be very good at this and it’s something smaller serviced accommodation businesses can learn from. Developed loyalty programs that reward your guests for staying with you directly offers increased brand loyalty, more repeat bookings and a better chance of gaining direct bookings instead of relying on third-party channels.
Check out how Ibis Hotel have created a loyalty program for those booking through their website
Here’s a script we’ve created for you to take and use on your website. Make sure to tweak it, so you put out the right message according to your offer!
“At [your accommodation], our top priority is to make sure you always receive the best booking experience possible. To reward our loyal customers, we are introducing a loyalty program that will encourage you to book direct with us. By booking directly through our website, you will accrue points which can be redeemed for discounts on future bookings and upgrades to higher-tiered room categories and exclusive benefits. Additionally, each booking comes with a host of other benefits such as [enter free benefit] and early check-in, giving you more reasons to keep coming back! We look forward to making your stay even better with this innovative loyalty program.”
#5 Make it Easy to Find Your Contact Information on Your Website
Your potential guest wants to know they’ve landed in the right place. Make it incredibly simple for them to track down your contact information by adding it prominently to both your website footer and a clear ‘contact’ page.
Here’s an example of how we did this on a direct booking website we built for our client:
This way, guests will always be able to find your details in case they have any questions along the booking journey. Open channels of communication are an integral part of getting your calendar full, so you should make the process of finding that information easy and straightforward from beginning to end.
If you want to increase your direct bookings, there are so many things you can do. We’ve shown you a few ways here, we’ve picked the quickest and easiest ones that we see people miss, to get you started on the right foot.
So to recap:
First, make sure your website is mobile-friendly since more and more people are using their phones for direct booking.
Second, use strong calls to action on your website and in your marketing materials so potential guests know what you want them to do.
Third, offer discounts or special deals for direct booking – this will sweeten the pot for those who are on the fence about booking with you. Everyone loves to save time and money!
Fourth, create a loyalty program so guests have the incentive to come back and book with you again at the best price available.
Finally, make it easy to find your contact information on your website – this way potential guests don’t have to go searching for it if they’re interested in learning more about what you have to offer.
If these tips sound helpful but you’re not sure where to start, we can help! Book a discovery call today and let’s chat about how we can get more eyes on your property and convert lookers into booked stays.