Written by: Antonio Andújar
One of the obsessions of the hotel sector is to attract online direct bookings. Hotels usually cover much of commercial distribution through online travel agencies (OTA). But because of that, they must pay higher brokerage commissions for each reservation. However, as things are not always black or white, there are strategies to increase online hotel bookings without sacrificing distributing hotel rooms in OTA.
The website is the sales channel that hotels should enhance more to increase their direct bookings. But sometimes they leave out or offer a user experience so negative that in practice, bookings made through this channel are virtually nil.
Including added-value services on the website is another useful way to better ensure the offer without breaking the parity agreement established with the OTA. The hotel should use its website to provide potential customers extra services that encourage them to book through this channel: free access to Wi-Fi, free parking, breakfast included, late check-out...
When booking a hotel through an OTA or meta-search engine, users get a list of hotels of similar price and often, they consult other users’ opinions to decide, on opinion pages as TripAdvisor. This is offered as a great opportunity for hotels to get increase traffic to their website. It is important to add a large number of opinions and comments about the hotel and especially that the hotel personally answer each of the comments posted by users quickly.
To build customer loyalty and get future booking through the hotel website is essential to maintain regular communication with them. There are many ways to do this, but certainly the simplest and cost effective to implement is email marketing. You can email once a month reporting on the activities that are held at the hotel or offering a special rate depending on occupation. You can also send them the latest blog entry posted in the hotel site. If you want to know more, see our post to know the keys for customers to open your email.
As mentioned in the introduction, the hotel should use all marketing channels as sales tools. Indeed, one of these channels can help increase direct bookings on the hotel website. Although it sounds strange, the OTA is a great showcase, probably the largest on the internet for hotels to present our hotel and get to capture the visitors’ attention with the goal they end up booking directly on the website. It is what is known as billboard effect.
Get to increase the share of direct online bookings within the total commercial distribution policy in hotels is not an easy task. But with creativity, perseverance and strategy we can achieve great results and reduce dependence on the OTA.