Not only do direct bookings improve margins and increase RevPAR, but they also provide the opportunity to drive longer-term guest loyalty for your hotel.
With all this in mind, we’ve created a handy 10-step guide to help you maximise direct bookings and give your bottom line a boost:
#1. Website usability
Think about whether your website is user-friendly or whether it’s preventing you from receiving more direct bookings. We recommend testing your booking journey as if you were a guest and then evaluating how easy it is to browse, check availability and make a booking.
Don’t forget to test the mobile experience! With 45% of travellers preferring to use their mobile device to book accommodation, it’s imperative that guests find it intuitive and simple to book using a mobile phone or tablet.
Things to look out for include having too many steps in the booking process, unclear language, complicated systems – or even if it takes too long to complete, or load times are slow (especially for mobile devices).
#2. Provide a current picture of your hotel
Always make sure your website displays up-to-date information, including the facilities you offer, and that the images reflect the current situation of your hotel. Most importantly, if you have rooms or facilities that are currently unavailable, make sure this is clearly communicated on your site and across any other sources of information to avoid guest disappointment on arrival.
#3. Ensure room availability is correct across all channels
Not only does displaying real-time availability put an end to overbookings, but it also reassures guests that their room reservation is secured immediately at the point of booking. This is easily achieved through your PMS’ centralised booking calendar by integrating a channel manager, which seamlessly links all your booking channels, from direct to OTA bookings
#4. Leverage direct bookings through exclusive deals
By reducing rates or offering incentives to encourage guests to book directly through your website, you are discouraging guests to book using OTAs. Not only does this reduce your commission payments, but it also provides opportunities for upselling, enables you to capture valuable information, and to also provides incentives to book direct with you in the future.
#5. Build trust with your guests
By highlighting how you keep your guests’ information safe, it builds confidence with your brand. Not only is this information required to conform to GDPR, but guests are also more likely to book directly with you! You should clearly communicate how any data is being stored and what you’ll be using it for. Be sure to demonstrate the value in them sharing their data, that way you can build up a marketing database to promote offers, special events, and any other marketing incentive you may wish to push!
#6. Respond to guest enquiries
According to Zonal’s recent research, 42% of guests said that responding to enquiries in a timely manner would encourage them to book directly… so communicating with guests and building relationships in the early stages of booking is vital to building brand loyalty.
#7. Send booking confirmations
Similarly, sending booking confirmations builds trust and provides your guests with peace of mind all is well with their booking prior to arrival. What’s more, it provides you with valuable opportunities to upsell add-ons and leverage food and beverage offerings, making use of all the touchpoints available to you.
#8. Reward loyalty
Zonal’s recent research found that 4 out of 5 guests would book a return visit if they were offered a discount. Use your current data to assess which promotional offers brought in the more direct bookings and either refine them or offer them first to loyal guests. On top of that, 29% of hotel guests are interested in hospitality loyalty schemes … check that your PMS can integrate with hospitality loyalty apps to utilise this opportunity.
#9. Leverage social media channels
Add a booking button on your social media channels as 43% of hotel guests agree that a button to book directly from social media channels will make the booking journey easier. This provides your brand with a great reach, especially with younger audiences, and provides a more convenient booking journey for most guests.
#10. Incentivise guest reviews
Whilst family or friend recommendations, better known as word of mouth (WOM), remain the top source of information for guests, reviews are the next best thing. As a form of WOM marketing, 98% of consumers confirmed that reviews influence their choice of hotel. Common review platforms include TripAdvisor or Google, but also adding reviews to your site further leverages guests to book
Demo with a complete hospitality software solution, High Level
Now you’ve reviewed your direct booking process, put High Level’s booking process to the test and request a demo today!
One of our hospitality technology experts will happily discuss your requirements and tailor your demo to your specific business needs.