In today’s digital age, it has become more critical than ever for hotels and resorts to encourage direct bookings through their website. Third-party booking platforms like Expedia and Booking.com can help reach a wider audience, and at their peak, four out of five bookings were made through OTAs. However, they come with high commission fees (up to 30 per cent) that can eat into profits.
Guests have a plethora of options when it comes to choosing accommodations. With so many options, it can be challenging for hotels to encourage direct bookings through their website for new and repeat guests. However, with a little effort and creativity, hotels can implement strategies that can help them attract more direct bookings.
And the effort is worth it. Hotels and resorts can increase revenue by encouraging guests to book directly through their website while building stronger customer relationships. A 2021 GlobalData survey found that consumer attitudes towards OTAs have changed due to the pandemic. Today, 39 per cent of consumers would prefer to book directly, compared to 17 per cent who would choose a third-party site.
12 tips to encourage direct bookings through your website
1 Offer incentives for booking directly:
One of the most effective ways to encourage direct bookings is by incentivizing guests who book through the resort or hotel’s website. This can include discounts on room rates, special check-in and check-out times, complimentary breakfast or other amenities, free upgrades, or loyalty points that can be redeemed for future stays. By offering these perks, hotels can incentivize guests to book directly while also providing added value to their stay.
Interestingly, an Oracle survey highlighted that 78 per cent of guests prefer immediate benefits over points.
2 Make sure your website is user-friendly:
The first step in encouraging direct hotel bookings is ensuring your website is user-friendly. A well-designed website should be easy to navigate, visually appealing, and informative. It should also be mobile-friendly (see below) and optimized for search engines, as many guests will use their smartphones to make bookings. Visitors will likely leave and book elsewhere if your website is challenging to use.
3 Make the booking process easy and intuitive:
The booking process should be as simple and intuitive as possible, with clear instructions and a user-friendly design. This means providing a clear call-to-action button, such as “Book Now” or “Check Availability,” prominently displayed on the homepage and throughout the website. In addition, the booking form should be easy to navigate and require only essential information from the guest.
4 Optimize the website for mobile devices:
In today’s mobile-first world, hotels and resorts must optimize their website for mobile devices. This means ensuring that the website is fully responsive, with a design that adapts to the size and orientation of the screen. It also means making the booking process mobile-friendly, with a streamlined and easy-to-use interface that works seamlessly on smartphones and tablets.
5 Provide detailed information about the hotel and its amenities:
To encourage guests to book directly, hotels should provide detailed information about the hotel and its amenities on their website. This includes high-quality photos of the accommodations and facilities and descriptions of the amenities and services available to guests. Hotels can also provide information about local attractions, restaurants, and events to help guests plan their stay.
6 Use high-quality photos and videos:
High-quality photos and videos can make a big difference in encouraging direct hotel bookings. Your website should include pictures and videos that showcase your property’s best features, such as the rooms, pool, restaurant, and surrounding area. This will help potential guests visualize their stay and make them more likely to book directly with you.
7 Use social proof to build trust:
Social proof is a powerful tool to help hotels build trust with potential guests. This can include guest reviews and ratings, testimonials from satisfied customers, and social media posts that showcase the hotel’s offerings and customer service. By highlighting positive feedback from past guests, hotels can demonstrate their commitment to providing a high-quality experience and encourage new guests to book directly.
8 Offer personalized recommendations and promotions:
Personalization is becoming increasingly important in the hospitality industry. To encourage repeat bookings, hotels should offer personalized recommendations and promotions to guests based on their past behaviour and preferences. This can include customized room amenities, personal welcome messages, tailored offers and discounts, and personalized suggestions for local activities and events that may interest the guest. By providing a customized experience, hotels can build a deeper relationship with their guests and encourage them to book directly in the future.
9 Provide exceptional customer service:
Hotels and resorts must provide exceptional customer service to all guests, whether booking directly or through a third-party platform. This includes responding promptly to inquiries and requests, providing personalized attention and assistance, and ensuring guests have a memorable and enjoyable stay. By providing exceptional customer service, hotels can build a loyal customer base that is more likely to book directly in the future.
10 Implement a loyalty program:
Implementing a loyalty program is an excellent way to encourage repeat guests to book directly through your website. Loyalty programs can include perks such as room upgrades, late checkout, and discounts on future stays. By offering these benefits, you’ll incentivize guests to book directly with you in the future rather than through a third-party booking site.
11 Encourage guest reviews:
Encouraging guest reviews is another effective way to promote direct hotel bookings. Positive reviews can help to build trust and credibility with potential guests, while negative reviews can provide valuable feedback that can help you improve your property. Therefore, it’s essential to encourage guests to leave reviews on your website and third-party review sites such as TripAdvisor.
12 Use social media to promote your property:
Social media can be a powerful tool for promoting your property and encouraging direct hotel bookings. By posting high-quality photos and videos of your property on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, you can showcase your hotel to a broader audience and encourage guests to book directly through your website.
Encouraging direct bookings through the website reduces the reliance on expensive third-party platforms, maximizes revenue and builds strong customer relationships. By offering incentives for booking directly, optimizing the booking process for mobile devices, providing detailed information about the hotel and its amenities, using social proof to build trust, offering personalized recommendations and promotions, and providing exceptional customer service, hotels and resorts can create a seamless and enjoyable booking experience that encourages guests to book directly time and time again.
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