What’s in it for me?
If you’re a small property struggling to extract direct bookings to maximize your revenue and boost occupancy, this article is wholeheartedly for you! Learn how to drive sales, boost marketing campaigns, design a fabulous website and aid your guests at different stages of the guest journey.
Hospitality businesses expect a steady stream of revenue when it comes to direct bookings. Direct bookings for small properties are ideally the best way to drive the business and can be regarded as a powerful force in the reduction of customer acquisition costs while improving profitability simultaneously.
Due to the vast market size along with the share of third-party and direct booking websites, it has become increasingly important for hoteliers to try and work towards the maintenance of the perfect balance between direct bookings and OTA bookings.
The role of OTAs to get more bookings can’t be outrightly denied. However, increasing direct bookings is simply better as it helps in minimizing the OTA intermediation cost. Since such properties can’t afford to market themselves on a large and global scale like major booking websites, that still doesn’t necessarily mean that one should give up on their efforts altogether for increasing direct bookings. After all, even 10% saved is 10% earned!
Compared to their larger and more resourceful counterparts, direct bookings for small properties are perhaps more important. Part of creating a winning distribution strategy is anticipating the expectations of your guests and selecting the best possible strategy.
Each source of booking comprises its unique set of challenges and advantages. Hence, the differences between the three sources of bookings are surely going to come in handy while developing your property’s strategy of distribution.
Direct bookings can be regarded as reservations that are being confirmed by guests directly with the property or hotel, without taking the help of any third-party booking platforms or OTAs. Direct bookings are usually made on the websites of the hotel over email/phone, or by walk-in. The most important benefit of direct bookings for small properties is that they connect such hotels/properties with their guests/customers directly and, in turn, help save money on distribution commissions.
OTAs are hugely popular and are widely used by travelers and guests worldwide. The majority of OTA bookings are usually accompanied by a commission fee. This means that guests create their reservations and process their payments via the OTA website, and the OTAs keep a negotiated commission per booking before distributing the remaining amount to hotels.
Metasearch websites such as Trivago, TripAdvisor , and Kayak provide their consumers with the opportunity to compare hotel prices across various websites. Contrary to the OTAs, metasearch is primarily based on a non-commission model, instead, you apparently pay a cost per click (CPC). A budget can be set by you for the amount of money you are willing to bid for every click. In addition, you can adjust bids accordingly to optimize the overall strategy.
Prior to driving up direct bookings for your property, it is important to understand the direct booking model meaning and the motivational factors that contribute to the decision-making of guests behind booking a property.
The various factors influencing the booking decisions of guests can be categorized into the following points:
Hence, to increase direct bookings for small properties, it is paramount to anticipate the purpose of the visit and serve accordingly. For example, families emphasize having a good time with proximity of the location to the nearby tourist attractions along with in-room amenities.
Showcasing ample social proof and substantiating the reviews with stellar and appropriate management responses can further help improve guests’ impression.
Direct booking campaigns have been at the center of the marketing of hotels for some time. Small vacation rentals continue to push guests to book directly with them and it primarily stems from the underlying efforts to forge stronger bonds with the guests and reduce the amount of money paid as commission to third parties. Moreover, the limitation of resources significantly amplifies the significance of direct bookings for small properties.
While websites like Booking.com and TripAdvisor get millions of visits on a monthly basis, two-thirds of online travel booking sales are made directly from the hotel’s own website. Approximately 80% of all digital travel sales occur online, and 60% of people say their digital travel booking is their most expensive online purchase. In addition, an indication of booking trends states that 12% of travelers think booking websites should provide a much faster and frictionless experience than booking directly on hotel websites. Therefore, the significance of direct booking vacation rentals or smaller hotels has become significantly important over the years.
The hospitality industry suffered huge losses during COVID with a huge drop in the overall amount of small hotels direct bookings and hotel occupancy rates. OTAs are still stronger than most small and independent properties due to their resources and expertise.
As you are keen to increase direct bookings, it is important to keep in mind that the impact of even the smallest of improvements tends to pay dividends over the years and not overnight. Even a mere 1% increase is worth celebrating. The idea is to gradually decrease your reliance on metasearch, OTAs, and third-party sources of bookings that charge a hefty commission.
Hence, let us, deep dive, into exploring the various ways that you can capitalize on to increase direct bookings for your small property:
You must go the extra mile to make it eye-catching, user-friendly, and SEO- friendly. Showcasing the right content with an aesthetically appealing yet simple design and providing ease of access in terms of navigation is a must. Most importantly, it should be mobile-friendly. You must ensure a modern and seamless experience for visitors to further encourage them to book with you and drive up direct bookings for small properties.
In order to drive up direct bookings for small properties, personalization is the key. Personalization the user experience for every visitor coupled with a strong messaging system and offers can help you tilt the scale in your favor.
Getting your property listed on metasearch engines while keeping a check on pricing encourages potential guests to book with you directly. It is advisable to promote the rates offered by you directly.
The hospitality industry has always been a highly-competitive one with the majority of the pie being shared among the few large hotels. Coupled with the pandemic for the past couple of years, smaller properties such as vacation rentals and B&Bs have struggled to survive. Rising operational costs along with higher commission rates of third-party sources of bookings have made it difficult for hoteliers to achieve success and to drive up direct bookings for small properties.
Hence, if you are wondering how to reduce Booking.com commission and avail the plethora of advantages that one stands to derive from direct bookings, you must carve out strategies for yourself that are best suited to your needs and demands. Direct booking strategies outlined above are surely going to improve your bookings and, in turn, the rate of occupancy at properties if incorporated into your distribution strategy.
Your website is your lowest-cost online channel and first point of contact for booking direct. If your website does not offer the best-optimized experience on various devices, customers will just book elsewhere!
And So Much more!
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