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Direct bookings are an important part of a hotel’s strategy that brings them closer to ideal margins. With their broad reach and heavy investments in online visibility, OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) have dominated the booking space. All more the reason for hotels to take a thoughtful approach as they shift to more direct bookings.
Although OTAs help position hotels in the forefront, their steep commission rates, ranging from 15% to as much as 25%, is a major reason why hoteliers have begun looking for opportunities to compel guests to book directly on the hotels’ websites. Direct bookings not only translate to higher margins but also a more personalized guest engagement opportunity. Today we share a few strategies that hotels can leverage to increase the amount of direct bookings.
According to a study by Phocuswright about American travelers, more than 68% booked hotels on their smartphone or tablet in the last twelve months. More travelers are making reservations from their smart devices, with more than half of those find it convenient to organize and book their trip entirely on mobile devices. These results indicate the importance of a mobile-friendly hotel website that provides a positive user experience with simplified navigation and booking experiences.
Websites can be a major investment. Consider using it to capitalize on visitors by incorporating pop-ups and other graphical features that may promote competitive rates when the visitor books direct. Such promotional features can quickly capture the attention of potential guests and entice immediate bookings. These promotional messages can be coupled with value add-ons like free parking, wi-fi, complimentary breakfast or other incentives not found elsewhere.
Even guest reviews and other guest-generated content can be used to draw in more visitors and direct bookings. Positive reviews and shared pictures will give potential guests the extra confidence they may need to book direct. Hotels also have direct access to communicate with past guests, a relationship that enables them to encourage future bookings via the hotel’s site.