Direct Bookings…all hoteliers know that driving them has become a key objective for properties of all sizes, and they are one of the best revenue management strategies. You may still believe that OTAs are going to provide you with the most bookings, but by taking back your reservations from the OTAs you can increase repeat bookings, utilize cross-selling opportunities, all while you increase brand loyalty. All these benefits ultimately lead to an increase in profits. The question you need to ask yourself is not whether you’re using OTAs, but whether you’d like to increase your profits and guest loyalty. If you answered yes to the latter, let’s find out how.
To Loyalty or not
When travelers have endless choices in the hotel industry, how do loyalty programs tie into your direct booking engine? Earning guest loyalty to drive direct bookings have become somewhat of a hot button in the hotel industry. With large chains offering a slew of loyalty programs for their guests, it makes sense that independent hoteliers have their own incentives like discounted rates and freebies too, right? However, most travelers don’t want to wait to accrue thousands of points; they prefer immediate gratification. Why not offer it to them by offering rewards at the second or third stay? The truth is, it is impossible to predict how each guest is going to react to a loyalty program, but it is possible to analyze the overall booking trends when a loyalty program is in place.
How is your marketing strategy? We all get inundated with communications these days; but if you’re trying to increase your direct bookings, the success or failure depends largely on your guest communication methods. Your hotel marketing plan can include a focus on driving guests directly to your booking engine. You can invest in online targeted marketing with programs like Guestfolio which include guest touch points through the booking, stay and departing phases of the guest life cycle. This type of investment is huge, as your communication strategy should increase guest engagement. When you send a post-stay survey email that automatically uploads to TripAdvisor you can include a repeat guest promotion encouraging guests to return, which leads to loyalty.
The bookings are in the details. When was the last time you asked yourself why a guest would want to return to your property? What do you offer your guests that no other property does? Do you have a unique history? When a guest stays at your property, you should have two goals in mind: Create a memorable visit and inspire the guest to return. There are so many properties that open every year, your property’s concept needs to be so inspirational that you catch your guests off guard.
Guest incentives outweigh guest acquisition costs. Flip.to a promotional sharing platform, allows you to offer your guest an incentive to direct book simply by suggesting that they share your property through images, or promotional links on their social media. With a program like Flip.to, you are accomplishing two things: You turn your guest into a brand marketer for you, and you provide a means for that guest to build loyalty with your property. While offering incentives may seem counterproductive, if you compare that to acquisition costs, advertising dollars, and other marketing tools, driving a successful guest recommendation program can be a great (inexpensive way) to drive direct bookings and increase your RevPar.
Make sure that your booking engine provides the best rate. One of the reasons guests end up booking through OTAs is because they assume that your direct booking engine price will be higher. That’s why it’s important to highlight your booking engine as the best place to book. Don’t be afraid to tell guests you have the best rates they will find online. In addition, integration to providers like Triptease with their Disparity Dungeon tool you can see where you’re being undercut by OTAs.
Your direct booking strategy is essential. Direct bookings offer customer growth, the ability to secure subsequent bookings, and build loyalty with your guests. Your direct booking engine should be an essential part of your revenue management strategy turning one-time guests into part of your property’s family. Contact our Sales Team today to discuss options that will assist you in getting the most out of your direct booking engine.