Let’s take a trip back to the days of dial-up internet and households having a home phone number, instead of the majority of us carrying a smartphone in our pocket. You may be wondering why we’re taking a step back in time, but this was also the time when guests could only make reservations by calling up your business directly.
Fast forward to today and booking a room can take shape in more ways than one. Although the number of ways to book a room has increased, the way you generate the most revenue has stayed the same. Direct bookings are still the highest driver of revenue, and the way most businesses want to gather reservations. Direct bookings have been disrupted by online travel agents (OTAs) and they’ve proven they’re here to stand the test of time.
So if both hotels and OTAs are here to stay, how can hotels maintain a stream of direct bookings and minimize the use of third-party distribution channels? You can go down the road of exquisite marketing strategies and expensive plans. There are simpler strategies that can help corral your guests into booking direct instead of using outside sources.
Train your reservationists to walk guests down the sales funnel and convert leads to bookings. As potential guests call in to ask questions about your property, your reservationists should not only be able to effectively answer the question at hand, but also be able to follow-up and book a traveler right then and there.
Inform your guests on the benefits of booking direct. Does a change need to be made to a reservation? Do you need a certain type of room? Are you sure you’re getting the best rate? When a guest books through an OTA, chances are they will not have the ability to control these things. Make it apparent to guests (on your website, through marketing material and on your property) that booking direct is the best way to get great service as well as the best price.
Advertise on sites that link back to your website. When figuring out the right places to spend your marketing dollars. It’s important to showcase your property in places that will effectively drive traffic back to your website without a third party getting in the way. Even though you’ll be paying for advertising, chances are you’re keeping more money than you would be if you used OTAs (and their high commissions) to generate bookings.
As the times change and the industry grows, it’s important that your business is doing its best to drive direct bookings. By doing so, you’ll not only keep more revenue, but you’ll be able to provide a better customer service to your guests when questions or concerns arise.