There is a lot of talk in the hospitality industry about the significance of direct bookings. OTAs have made the world an easier place for hotels; especially with the huge amount of exposure they provide hotels. A lot of guests use OTAs to research before booking, and that does increase bookings for properties.
There’s no doubt that OTAs are a boon, but you shouldn’t just sit back and let all bookings come through indirect channels. With more direct bookings, you’ll be able to enjoy cheaper acquisition costs and lower cancellation rates, not to mention a better relationship with the guests. But it’s tough to match the amount of discounts offered by OTAs, especially for independent hotels. So, instead of tugging with OTAs on price parity, it’s better to offer visitors more value in direct bookings. We list out some ways you can do exactly that.
Get creative with incentives
Discount wars can be a brilliant opportunity to get innovative with incentives and offers. Promoting package deals is a great way to offer additional value. For example, you can club room bookings with hotel facilities. You can offer free Wi-Fi and breakfast only to guests who have booked directly. Other amenities can include room upgrades and free room service. Just be careful to promote these packages explicitly.
If your property is in a location that sees a lot of weddings or honeymoons, you can come up with package deals related to them, like offers on catering, banquet hall, shuttle service, etc. It’s a good idea to even partner with wedding planners.
Strengthen your direct web presence
This involves having a modern, responsive, and SEO-friendly website which works on all types of devices, especially smartphones. It should also have a user-friendly booking engine that makes it convenient to book.
Since mobile is the first touch point in more than 50% of cases, it is also the most important. Many hotels still don’t have mobile-optimized websites – the page should represent your hotel as well as the desktop website. There should be a proper emphasis on hotel information, images, and booking process.
Open your website on mobile and answer these questions – is it comfortable to use with touch? Is it properly functional?
Content is king
Not just design and layout, but the content on your website is also paramount. Think of it as a virtual reservation desk of your hotel. Keep in mind that Google places emphasis on relevant and regularly updated content. Take any landing page periodically, for example, gallery or dining, and give it a review and update. It helps in Search Engine Optimization.
While the importance of lively imagery is known, placing videos on websites is just as important. There’s nothing better than showcasing your property through a video, but without compromising on loading time. We have already seen a 5 percentage point improvement in engagement rates through videos on our hotel websites. Check out this page – http://www.leisurehotels.co.in/the-river-view-retreat-corbett-resort/
User-driven design – form meets function
At the end of the day, your brand website has one purpose – turning visitors to paid hotel guests. Any run-of-the-mill template won’t inspire them to book. Once a visitor enters the website, the environment should be compelling and inspiring, while being simple to navigate around. Don’t just tell; show them the journey that they will experience once they book a stay.
With Simplotel’s hotel website solutions, you can choose from thousands of hotel website designs and colours combinations.
Review your Online Reviews strategy
Customers and guests are always prompted to visit online review websites like TripAdvisor before making a booking. Have a clear strategy to draw in these customers back to your website try responding to each comment posted. For example, if someone comments on the great quality of your spa, you can reply by thanking the guest and showing the guest that you care. Besides just starting a conversation, it can give you a deeper understanding of what your guests want. You can even understand how your hotel stacks up against competitors.
OTAs are great at their job – filling vacant rooms. But, even if you can’t advertise room rates as low as them or offer as big discounts, there are ways to keep up your direct bookings. Follow these solutions to keep bringing visitors to your brand website.