In 2019, three key trends will have an increased impact on your ability to drive direct hotel bookings: the travelers’ shift to mobile, direct bookings facilitated through metasearch, and the ever-growing importance of user-generated content and guest reviews.
Of course, these trends aren’t the only changes to be aware of. The hotel marketing and tech landscape is constantly evolving, and traveler expectations are constantly rising.
So what can you be doing to adapt your direct booking strategy in these dynamic times?
Here are 10 practical actions you can take to help you drive direct bookings to your hotel in 2019.
10 tips to bring more direct bookings to your hotel in 2019
If you haven’t already worked the following updates into your direct hotel booking strategy, now is the time to start.
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#1 Make your website mobile friendly
In 2019, if your hotel website is not flawless on mobile then you’re leaving money on the table.
Hotel guests are increasingly booking directly through their mobiles or tablets, and they’re not a small or low-value market segment. A 2018 Phocuswright report of US online travelers showed that over 68% shopped for travel on a smartphone or tablet in the past 12 months. This group were also more likely to be frequent travelers, travel internationally, and spend more on travel. Moreover another Phocuswright report showed that more than half of travelers in some markets are comfortable planning and booking their entire trip on mobile.
#2 Get listed on metasearch and promote your rates directly
Having a standout profile on metasearch is a great way to increase online bookings overall. However, to maximize direct bookings through this channel, you need to make your hotel’s direct rates available alongside the OTA rates. Rate Connect enables you to publish your website rates on trivago through a CPC campaign that brings the traveler straight to your website to complete their booking.
An easy-to-use interface that helps you set a competitive budget and auto-optimizes your bidding daily empowers you to run a successful campaign on Rate Connect without a dedicated marketing team or extensive online advertising knowledge.
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#3 Harness user-generated content and guest reviews
An online presence that shows how you have satisfied your past guests is a powerful way to win over hesitating potential guests. A study from BrightLocal showed that consumers read an average of seven reviews before trusting a business, making what guests say about your property online crucial to your direct booking success.
Featuring positive reviews and other guest-generated content, such as photos, will help guests feel comfortable completing the last leg of their booking journey through your direct booking channels.
#4 Make your booking CTAs clear and eye-catching
Having a large amount of traffic to your hotel’s website is a missed opportunity if you’re not converting these travelers from lookers into bookers. Use clear and bold calls to action (CTAs) on all pages and utilize lightbox pop-ups to highlight your current offers and capture your potential guests’ attention. Consider using price widgets to compare your rates to the OTAs’ and highlight any incentives you offer to travelers when booking directly.
#5 Create a seamless and simple direct booking process
The last thing you want is to lose a guest who has already made the decision to book because they’re frustrated with your booking process. Use a booking engine that is fast, simple, and mobile optimized, such as the Booking Engine from Base7Booking.
#6 Turn social media into another direct booking channel
Another way to create further opportunities for frictionless direct bookings is to enable direct bookings right within your social media presence, such as with the Facebook integration built into the Booking Engine from Base7Booking.
#7 Promote what makes your hotel unique online
Whether it’s your down-to-earth service, rustic homestyle breakfast buffet, or unique décor – find the things that set your hotel apart and use them to stand out to potential guests. Take advantage of stunning photography and video to showcase your hotel on every platform, from your website to your social media pages and profile on metasearch. Keep your information up to date on all channels with details about your special offers, seasonal promotions, or recent renovations. This will help drive the traffic that could turn into direct bookings.
#8 Inform your rate strategy with data
If there is an area where guests are often especially discerning, it’s price. Always knowing what your competition is doing with their room pricing, as well as how your own rates are shown across numerous booking sites, is critical. It can also be time-consuming and impossible to manage manually. Rate Insights is a feature that enables you to monitor your competitors’ rates, as well as your own across your partnered booking channels, all on one platform. This can help you create a data-driven price advantage in your hotel’s direct booking strategy.
#9 Reward loyalty and direct bookings
Highlight the benefits of booking directly to encourage return visitors to book through your website. This could be by offering guests small perks when they book directly or giving them vouchers to use through your website for their next stay or when they refer their friends or family. Increasing loyalty can work hand in hand with increasing direct bookings, as a Phocuswright report revealed that bookings made directly through hotels were twice as likely to be repeat guests compared with those who made their bookings through OTAs.
#10 Ask your missed bookers what they think
A Skift report found that in the travel industry in 2014 there were US$1.78 trillion in incomplete bookings, which was more than three times the value of finalized bookings.
Abandoned cart emails (to partially complete bookers) and website pop-up surveys can help you gather information about why you might not be converting potential guests. This can give you important clues as to what is going on and what you could do to win travelers over next time.
Are there any other tips or strategies that you think are important to drive direct bookings? Don’t hesitate to let us know by commenting below.