The way travelers search for and book hotels is changing, with industry data indicating a continued increase in online bookings compared to offline. If hoteliers want to stay in the game and not miss out on a growing number of bookings, they’ll have to keep up with this trend and get online themselves.
But it’s about more than just survival. With the right mindset and a little bit of technology, hoteliers can capitalize on the traveler’s shift to an online booking journey, rather than miss out on direct bookings because of it.
For travelers, the process of booking a hotel has always included three phases: search, book, and stay. Although they’re still going through all three stages of this booking journey, the difference is that now it’s increasingly happening online. That’s why hoteliers need to start embracing new marketing tactics and technologies, so that they can win direct bookings by providing information about their property where travelers are searching for it.
The transition to a fully digitized solution to win bookings might seem like an overwhelming task. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be! When hoteliers understand how the market is changing and the influence of metasearch, they’re able to leverage unique opportunities to drive direct bookings and maintain a seamless booking experience for travelers.
Optimize the online (direct) booking journey
Many hoteliers are already making the digital switch. They’re making their hotel easy to find by advertising on a leading metasearch marketing channel like trivago. They’re investing in new websites, booking engines, and channel managers to make their hotel bookable online. They’re even making their hotel easier to operate by running all-in-one, cloud-based property management systems.
Incorporating the right technologies is just half of the battle for bookings in today’s marketplace. While technology makes it easier and more efficient for hoteliers to manage all stages of the traveler’s booking journey online, direct bookings won’t happen unless they can advertise their direct rates to people searching for a hotel online.
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Harness the power of metasearch
Today, 50% of all online bookers use metasearch to find their ideal hotel. In addition, a recent report from Phocuswright and trivago* found that independent properties allocate most of their marketing budget to online tactics, and over 37% said they would use metasearch more intensively in the future.
Independent hoteliers aren’t the only ones using metasearch. Large, online travel agencies (OTAs) are also competing for metasearch traffic, and they’re investing heavily to do so. When OTAs become powerful marketers in the “search” stage of the booking journey, independent hoteliers can get lost in the shuffle and end up missing out on direct bookings as a result.
Start leveling the playing field
What can hoteliers do to gain control over the booking funnel? They can start developing a healthier distribution mix; in other words, a better balance between indirect and direct bookings.
Hoteliers who are unable to compete online end up surrendering a large portion of their revenue to third-party booking commissions. While advertising with an OTA can be an effective way to fill rooms, a competitive and sustainable strategy should include a way to increase direct bookings and lower distribution costs over the long term.
Increase direct bookings with Rate Connect
Rate Connect is a product from trivago developed exclusively for independent hoteliers, and it enables them to drive direct bookings by advertising direct rates in the trivago search results.
By advertising with Rate Connect via the trivago Business Studio platform, hoteliers effectively open a new channel that redirects the traveler from trivago straight to their booking engine.
Now it’s your turn
In the future, competing for bookings will require a proactive decision by the hotelier to take control of their own booking destiny and embrace digitized solutions.
Rate Connect is an effective solution from trivago that enables hoteliers to be more competitive in the “search” and “book” stages of the traveler’s online booking journey. By amplifying their presence on trivago’s hotel metasearch with Rate Connect, hoteliers can start driving more direct bookings and lowering their distribution costs today.
Promote your official direct rates to boost bookings.
*Phocuswright/trivago January 2019 report: “Independent Lodging Properties and the Online Marketplace”
A version of this article was originally published in July 2017.