Five ways to drive direct bookings and reduce OTA dependency

Every accommodation provider  is bound to be aware of the industry’s eternal battle: direct bookings versus OTA. 

While it doesn’t take a genius to gather that direct bookings are hands down the better of the two, OTAs do give accommodation the advantage of being more visible than they can ever be on their own.

So, finding the right balance between the two will work wonders to ensure full occupancy at your property.

But what if there was a way to encourage direct bookings without completely doing away with OTAs?

[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”27469″ align=”left” padding=”10″]That is exactly what you’re going to find out in this blog post where we’ll be discussing easy ways by which you can increase hotel direct bookings, the importance of driving a hotel’s direct bookings as well as how you can turn OTA bookings into direct bookings.

The importance of driving more direct bookings:

You should already know that if you are depending heavily on OTAs for bookings, you will end up spending a massive chunk of your earnings on OTA commissions. These commissions are anywhere between 15 percent  to 25 percent, which is by no means a small amount.

But is that all? Are there any other major disadvantages for hotels with OTAs?

Unfortunately, yes.

The other major disadvantage that comes with heavy dependency on OTAs is that most popular OTAs don’t share guests’ details with accommodation. Guest data is crucial, in this day and age, for accommodation to nurture loyalty and build reputation.

By designing a holistic strategy to increase direct booking, accommodation can overcome both these major OTA-related roadblocks.

With direct bookings, not only will you save on the exorbitant OTA commissions, but you will also have full access to all your guest data.

But these are just two of the main points in the “direct bookings versus OTA” debate. There is no denying that the more the direct booking for a property, the higher the profit margin. Which brings us to the most important point…

How can you increase direct bookings?

1. Make your website your most powerful weapon

In today’s digital world, a well-optimised website is half the battle won. There are several features that need to come together for a website to become “optimised”, like:

· It should be engaging, easy to navigate and user-friendly

· It should be search engine optimised to bring in online traffic

· It should take as little loading time as possible

2. Integrate a web booking engine into your website

This one is as obvious as it is self-explanatory. What better place for potential guests to make a booking than at the very place where they are getting a virtual fee of your property – your website.

Certain robust cloud property management systems (PMS) allow you the website-web booking engine integration from within the scope of the PMS. This ensures that the website visitors have real-time information of your inventory, room rates, etc. This is one of the easiest tips to increase hotel direct bookings.

3. Have a “Book now” button on your Facebook page

Social media is not a buzz word or a fad. It is real! Businesses across the globe have transformed the way they operate thanks to social media, and hospitality industry is no exception. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and the likes are all great platforms for potential guests to discover you and learn about you.

By integrating a booking engine into your brand’s Facebook page, you can really make hay while the proverbial sun shines!

The magic of social media platforms is that people have access to photographs, comments, opinions, experiences, etc. on your very page. And if they like what they see, they should have the option to book right away before they change their mind.

4. Improve your hotel’s reputation

Guest experience is sooner or later going to become your priority number one. We say this because the stats are all pointing in that direction.

Consider this, 98 percent of travellers read hotel reviews and of them 80 percent consider them extremely important before making the reservation. A property with a good online reputation stands a better chance at getting more hotel direct bookings.

A good way to improve your hotels reputation is to sign up with a review site that allows you to integrate it into your website, like TripAdvisor. This way, every time a guest leaves you a positive review on your website, it will appear on your TripAdvisor page and vice versa. This apart, you must also put in the effort to respond to reviews, no matter good or bad. This communicates a sense of responsibility and builds trust in potential guest.

Own up to your mistakes, in case of a negative review, and incentivise them to come back to you so you can undo that experience and make them happy! All these things speak volumes to the potential guest.

5. Everybody likes a discount, an offer or some perks

The best part about direct bookings is that you have complete control over it, unlike with OTAs. Give your website visitors an offer that will force them to make a hotel direct booking. Whether you choose to give your direct bookers a free spa coupon upon booking with you, or a 15 percent on their food and beverage bill, or even a 50 percent on their next stay with you – the options are plenty and the choice is entirely yours.

Whatever works best for you, for the season, with your target audience, is in your budget – throw in that offer. Publicise this offer so that more and more people come to check you out. It’s a win-win for everybody.

Direct booking is a boon for hotels across the globe and regardless of how big or small the hotel, everybody wants to cut down on OTA commissions. 

Divya Bhat is content strategist at Hotelogix

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Chris Copeland
5 years ago

Thanks Divya for your commonsense advice. It’s going to take a long time and a lot of effort applying this advice to wean off the OTA teat. The vast majority of OTA booking guests have no idea that this system has become a global duopoly, charges 12 to 20% commissions and pays no tax or remits any GST in Australia. I agree with your Tripadvisor comments though it appears that they have been signed up with the big two also with booking links on their review pages. Tripadvisor won’t give a link to a small operator’s booking site but freely advertise the duopoly, another kickback?

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