Let’s face it; OTAs have become a necessary evil in the hotel industry. They help your property become visible to the world and assist you in obtaining more bookings. With the convenience of online booking, most guests view at least one OTA site’s pricing before deciding on a booking platform. However, with OTA fees sometimes as high as 35% of the total booking, how can hoteliers combat this and keep as much revenue as possible? Well, the good news is you can attract many of these same guests to your direct booking engine while saving money in the process and building customer loyalty at the same time. Read on to find out some easy ways to turn OTA lookers into direct bookers.
Create a connection with your guests
This should be a no-brainer! The adage “the devil is in the details” applies so frequently in the hotel industry doesn’t it? Encourage your staff to interact with your guests before, during and after the stay. With programs like Cendyn’s Guestfolio it is easier than ever to automate this process, and it builds a rapport that is long lasting.
Offer benefits to guests booking directly
Incentives; everybody wants something for nothing, right? Bringing value to guests is easy when you help them see related benefits. Your website should be the best place to receive discounts on spa, bar, and restaurant items for your property. Although the buzz created around a Groupon advertisement can be enticing, the goal is to increase bookings; so use your direct booking engine to offer the best discounts to your potential guests.
Leverage user generated content (UGC)
User generated content helps hoteliers paint a detailed picture of your property and sets your guests expectations. It is also trusted by 92% of consumers according to Salesforce. UGC is not difficult to collect from your guests. In fact, 67% of travelers already post something about their travels on social media. It’s just a matter of finding content about your property online and asking permission to use it. Using a specially designed hashtag for your property can make it easier to find you, as well as encouraging guests to “check-in” on social media also helps.
Keep guest contact information current
When a guest checks in to your hotel, make sure that you’re getting their contact information and determining whether they want to opt into any future communications. GDPR certainly made this step a little more challenging, but the benefits you may receive outweigh any negativity that surrounds the opting out you may get from your guests. For example, through outbound email campaigns you can offer guests promotions, free room upgrades, or discounts to local events or businesses that you’ve partnered with.
Provide reviews on your website
Probably the best way to keep guests booking direct is to show them what other guests are saying about your property. Guest reviews play an important role in the decision- making process. According to TripAdvisor, 96% of travel shoppers consider reviews important when researching a hotel, and 79% of those shoppers will read between six to twelve reviews before making a decision. OTAs use reviews all over their sites, so why not use them to your advantage on your direct booking site as well?
At the moment, OTA bookings far outweigh direct bookings across the hotel industry. However, as hoteliers, we have the power to change this by implementing these few strategies. Connecting with our guests before, during, and after the stay, keeping our guest contact information current, displaying our reviews on our websites, offering benefits to our guests for booking directly, and leveraging user generated content we can increase our direct bookings exponentially. But, it always helps to have other tools in our toolkit as well. Software programs like Cendyn’s Guestfolio encourages hoteliers to send “win back” email marketing campaigns to OTA bookers, and in addition you can also send newsletters to guests to drive traffic to direct booking engines. Any way you slice it, direct bookings will help to increase your bottom line and create loyal guests, so what are you waiting for; implement some of these strategies today.
InnQuest Software is a leading technology provider for the hospitality industry. For over 25 years, innQuest has combined hotelier experience with innovative technology to deliver an all-in-one solution that empowers hotels to attract guests, drive customer loyalty, and increase profits. Our flagship property management software, roomMaster, helps manage over 5,500 properties across 100 countries. InnQuest develops scalable solutions ranging from a Hotel PMS, Cloud PMS, Channel Manager, Hotel CRM and helps properties enable guests to Book Direct. We believe that everyone deserves a great guest experience, whether they’re staying at a small B&B, a thousand-room resort, or anywhere in between.
Call us today at 1.813.288.4900, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be happy to walk you through innQuest’s solutions.