Personally, the thing that makes me book directly over making a booking via booking.com or Expedia is my expectation that I will have a more personal experience at the hotel by doing so.
Firstly, when I book direct at a small hotel, I expect the hotel to anticipate my arrival without someone at check-in running their fingers down a list trying to find my name.
I’m also hoping I might receive some communication prior to my arrival where I am asked about my interests and my favourite pre-dinner drink. I’ll eagerly look forward to how they will use this information to tailor my experience. The very idea of staying in my chosen hotel should excite me just as much as going to the destination itself…
There is a different level of passion with independent hoteliers and property owners. Translate that knowledge and passion throughout your business to set you apart…
So How Do I, As The Guest, Get To The Point Of Making This Booking Directly With You, The Hotel, In The First Place?
- When your website is beautifully created with good quality photos and video, and online booking is easy, I am much more likely to book direct. Trust me, if your website navigation isn’t smart, intuitive and easy to use across devices, your guests will seek out an easier solution elsewhere. Don’t hide important information like room types, amenities, and most importantly, the book now button. It should be painfully obvious how and where to check availability and book a stay.
- If your website is up to date with informative content, I won’t need to do a whole lot of research on other sites to find supporting information about the area, events, restaurants and so on. New content also gains attention from search engines and boosts the entire website’s performance. It’s another way you can set yourself apart from the OTAs, where you are just a listing like everyone else.
- Am I on your database? Do I receive relevant news and offers? Am I engaged with you on social media? These are ideal channels to promote messages and offers aimed at getting guests to book with you directly.
- OTAs are really good at retargeting ads. Those ads that I see on various other websites after I have visited your website for the first time. Consider this as part of your marketing too in order to remain competitive.
Our Top Tip: Data is your best friend! Set up a database of past and potential guests so that you can use this data to make your marketing efforts highly targeted and relevant. Please feel free to get in touch to find out how.
Why You Should Care About Direct Bookings?
There is an endless amount of reasons why you should care about direct bookings. From brand loyalty to higher average yield. I would encourage hotels to create a healthy distribution mix though, to include OTAs and agent bookings, and to review the plan regularly. Ultimately, as a small property, direct bookings (should) offer you higher profit margins and an opportunity to connect with your guests.
While it might be time consuming and require some creativity, it will be well worth it when you start driving more direct bookings.