If you want to capture direct bookings through your website, you need a booking engine – it’s as simple as that.
Being able to take bookings straight through your site will help reduce the amount of commission you’re paying out to OTAs. This can be a lot, especially if you’re currently counting on OTAs to secure the majority of your guests. Even if you heavily rely on OTAs to get those bookings in, most potential guests will check out your hotel website even if they found you through a third-party website first!
So. How can you tempt guests into booking direct rather than with an OTA, especially when the average hotel booking engine conversion rate is a measly 2%?
We’ve put together some top hacks to help you out!
1. Be Transparent With Prices
Transparency with prices is key if you want to build trust with guests and avoid them running off to book with OTAs. The reality is, you are in charge of prices on your hotel website. The OTAs often add extras on top, which makes the prices on your website the cheapest out there! However, lots of hotels take advantage of the fact that booking direct provides the cheapest prices and add on extras at checkout. This means that, when a guest goes to pay, they’ll be greeted with a price they weren’t originally quoted. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t going to make them jump to book with you. This is why it’s absolutely vital to keep your prices the same, right through the booking process! No checkout shocks means you won’t lose out on any business.
2. Inject a Sense of Urgency
FOMO (fear of missing out) is for real. It’s actually a great way of injecting a sense of urgency into the booking process!
You can do this by offering a limited-time discount that expires when the visitor leaves your site or by a certain date. Alternatively, you can showcase urgency in other ways, like having a line of text that tells potential guests how many other people are currently looking at a room in your hotel. This is a common technique in the hotel industry, and you’ll see it on quite a few hotel websites as well as OTAs.
3. Incentivise Shoulder Night Stays
It’s common knowledge that the most popular night of the week for hotels is a Saturday. And, while you can usually count on your hotel being booked up on the weekend, are you making the most of the Friday and Sunday nights either side of that much-coveted Saturday?
If you’re not, you should be.
Perhaps offer a discount on a Friday or Sunday night for Saturday night guests, or maybe you could throw in a little extra – like a free drink in the bar – if someone books both a Saturday and a Sunday night.
4. Optimise Your Packages
The descriptions that accompany your room listings can make or break a sale with a potential guest. If they’re not sure what they’re getting when they buy through you, but they’re clear when they book through an OTA or another third-party site, who do you reckon they’re going to go with? The key here is to make sure your package descriptions are clear and show up in your booking engine in full (that means no truncated descriptions).
5. Create Advanced Purchase Rates
One of the biggest benefits of booking through an OTA is the option to pay on arrival. The reservation is confirmed, but guests don’t have to part with any of their money until they’re right there standing in front of the receptionist! However, you can encourage guests to book direct early on with a full payment by offering more palatable rates. This means that if someone books, say, three months in advance and pays in full, they end up paying 10% less overall.
This not only keeps short-term cash flow moving, but it also reduces cancellations, as people are far less likely to cancel a booking at a hotel that they’ve already paid for!
6. Introduce Last-Minute Rates
You’ve probably experienced this before: the weekend rolls around and, by some freak happening, you’ve got three empty rooms. It’s not the end of the world, but you’d ideally like to have them filled, right?
This is where last-minute rates can really pay off. Provide discounts to guests who book right at the last moment so that no room goes unfilled again. Sure, you won’t get the full rate for the room, but a discounted rate is much better than getting nothing at all, and it will keep your short-term cash flow ticking over.
7. Implement Rate Strategies
Lots of hotels make the mistake of having one rate package for everyone. But, the truth is, hotel rooms aren’t a one-size fits all situation, and as you know, not every guest experience is equal. You’ll be familiar with this from drawing up your various guest personas. You might want to implement a series of different fixed rates depending on what the guest is looking for and what season they’re travelling in. For example, you can offer group rates for those who are booking a lot of rooms at once, rates for seasonal holidays, and rates for people who are travelling alone. Guests are much more likely to find an option that suits them and their individual needs this way, and are, therefore, much more likely to book direct with you.
8. Upsell Where You Can
Upselling is such an underrated tactic for revenue managers! Think about it: as the hotel (and not an OTA who has limited options when it comes to offering extras), you can deck out your listings in any way you want to make them more appealing to potential guests.
You can upsell even the simplest of bookings by allowing guests to add on their own extras to enhance and embellish their booking. This might include the option to add on breakfast, get champagne on arrival for a romantic weekend, or get a massage treatment at the on-site spa. It helps your guest to create a more personalised experience – and consumers (consumers being, every one of us) will continue to expect and demand more and more refined, personalised brand experiences over the coming years.
Increase Your Revenue With These Simple Tricks
It’s so important for hotels to secure direct bookings these days, particularly with the commission rates of OTAs getting bigger by the day! The hacks we’ve outlined here don’t take much time at all to implement, but they can have a dramatic effect on your revenue.
Start by optimising your booking engine to include extras, different package rates, and transparency, and you’ll see your direct bookings drastically increase practically overnight.
Learn more about Net Affinity’s booking engine here.