Experimenting with your direct bookings

Sep 14, 2016

Although the number of travellers has steadily increased in the last years, booking trends reveal that direct bookings and third parties and leveraging. We give you some ideas and insightful tips to help you diversify and experiment with your distribution channels, and take your hotel’s game to the next level.

A study recently revealed that 53% of rates are cheaper on a hotel’s own website when compared to third parties. Online travel shopping and booking trends are revealing a leverage between online travel agencies and direct bookings. For travellers, once the planning stage starts it’s easy to discover that there are many ways to research and book their accommodation. How can independent hoteliers find a way to get to them before third parties?

Some companies are leading by example, such as the Hilton’s ‘stop clicking around’ campaign and Marriott’s ‘It pays to book direct’, where travelers are encouraged to change their booking patterns based on incentives from their providers. Small and independent hoteliers can also follow those steps in a much simple scale.

Cover the basics

We can’t stop emphasising on the basic tools that every hotel, B&B, small chain, or any other player must have. Our list only has three essential checks to cover: an excellent website, an effective and working online booking engine, and finally your social media and online presence.

Your online hotel

Although it might sound obvious, an appealing website can lure potential guests and even generate excitement about staying with you. According to Google, 52% of travellers visit a hotel’s website after spotting a property in OTAs. Make the best by ensuring they stay on your website and book!

Book in a click

Your booking engine is an asset, and should have an user-friendly interface, mobile optimisation, attractive and easy to understand information, and last but not least, a reliable paying platform. The least clicks required to book, the better as the path is shorter and the odds of losing them reduce dramatically.

Explore your availability

It might sound like a good idea to promote all your rooms in OTAs, but keeping some rooms only for direct bookings is a good experiment to test if guests are willing to book directly when they see available rooms in your booking engine. That way you limit channel risk and reduce commissions.

Analyse your data

A balanced hotel distribution strategy does not rely solely on one channel. We recommend a balanced use of third parties and direct bookings, considering the last ones generate direct profit. Some websites allow hoteliers to track and understand their guest’s behaviour on their website, thus analysing what exactly they explore before booking a room.

sem-seo

When looking for a hotel in Malibu, we see the results of good SEM and SEO strategies when the direct website is the first in line.  Credit: Internet

All roads lead to…

We have already discussed the importance displaying content, pictures and even events related to your hotel. Along with quality content, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is fundamental to be found online and rank higher on Google search, for example. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) refers to advertising appearing on search engines as promoted content or ads. These two strategies will attract guests to your hotel if you know how to use them.

From basic strategies such as meta tags and headings to promoting online content, there are plenty of ideas to try in your business. Do you have any questions about online distribution or booking engines? Let us know in our social media in Facebook or @Base7booking, and we’ll give you great tips and advice.

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