How to increase direct bookings on your website
Booking portals are indispensable nowadays for many hotels and often generate a large part of the bookings. Not only hotels can hardly imagine a life without online travel agents, but also end users benefit from the extensive range of booking platforms. The guests have the possibility to compare different accommodations quickly through one site in order to find the ideal offer and book it immediately. In return, the hotelier has an enormous reach, which would not be accessible without the support of OTAs. In addition to the commission fees per booking, many hoteliers are dependant on the specific platform. In order to prevent this dependency, it is necessary to focus more on direct bookings. If the hotelier is willing to pay a certain amount of commission to receive bookings via OTAs, why not use this amount to enforce direct bookings?
The way to direct bookings
To the point a booking is made, potential guests pass through up to 100 touchpoints. They compare different accomodations within a destination or region until a potential customer decides. This is where the interesting part in regard to direct bookings begins, because now the prices and benefits are compared between the individual platforms. According to a survey by the Austrian Hotel Association, the price is the decisive factor in the decision making process.
From Google to the website
The path of a booking begins in 80% of the cases with a search engine, such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. This makes the search engine ranking essential. The higher your website is ranked, the more likely a potential customer clicks on the website and always keep in mind: Appearing on page 2 in a search engine means being virtually invisible.
The next step is to make your website stand out from the competition. Show your potential guests all the important information, those should be short and informative to avoid any misunderstandings. It is also important to structure your website carefully: The Website-Usability is a central quality criteria in the age of Web 2.0. The navigation through a website must be seamless, you do not want the customer to get lost in a maze. Attention! Not everything that seems logical to you is logical to others. Therefore it is important to include outsiders in the design of the website.
By now the guest has filtered out all the relevant information about your hotel. Buy why should he decide to book through your website instead of a familiar booking platform? It is time to position yourself attractively and create incentives. Show the guest the advantages of a direct booking. The room rate is the first and most important incentive. If the guest finds better rates on another platform, he will also book there. Special added values can be used in a supportive way. A free drink upon arrival, a fruit plate or prosecco in the room will arouse the emotions of the guest. So be creative.
Smooth booking procedure
The easier it is to process a hotel booking, the more likely it is that the guest will complete it. Online booking platforms generate a structured overview when which room can be booked and at what price. What can hotels learn from this? Show potential guests the most important facts about a booking in a detailed and structured way without any small print on your website.
Unnecessary complications, such as multiple entries and unnecessary form fields, can lead to a termination of the booking process. In many cases, the smartphone-savvy generation books via mobile devices or tablets. Therefore it is important to take mobile usability into account when designing the booking process.
The integration of reviews
Users often have countless accommodation choices available through various platforms. In many cases they use feedback from other guests as a decision-making tool. Ratings can be created and retrieved through various channels - booking portals, search engines, social media. Positive and negative feedback gives potential guests a better impression about the quality of the hotel.
Allow the guest to read any reviews from various platforms directly on the hotel’s website without having to visit other pages. With this method you prevent him from visiting other websites, due to a lack of information sources and encourage a potential guest to continue surfing on your website and ultimately book.
The problem with rate parity
An important motive for direct bookings is the lower price than on booking platforms. However, the problem of the best-price clause continues to pose challenges for the hotel industry. Although this clause has already been banned in many countries, hotel booking platforms try to use other instruments such as Booking Sponsored Discount to gain a price advantage. In addition, 42 percent of the hoteliers surveyed by the Austrian Hotel Association stated that OTAs tried to enforce rate parity despite the legal ban. It is not surprising that one in five hoteliers has a critical or very critical view about the cooperation. You want to know more about the questionable models of Booking.com and how they work? Then click HERE
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