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7 Ways to Get More Direct Bookings

Julie Frost
August 25, 2023

Third-party websites, such as Expedia and Booking.com, promote your hotel and help customers compare your prices with other lodgings. However, third-party sites charge a commission that eats into your profits. Direct bookings let you keep 100% of the sales, boosting your income so that you can expand your business.

To get more direct bookings, you'll need customers to prefer your site over online travel agencies. Special offers, user-friendly sites and smooth booking processes encourage travelers to book through your site and leave positive reviews afterward. Plus, you'll earn repeat customers that see you as a travel partner.

1. Add Benefits

Complimentary Fresh Fruits

Give customers a reason to book directly with exclusive deals. You could offer free parking, discounted rates, event tickets, complimentary appetizers and other gifts that they won't find on third-party websites. Other offerings could include exclusive packages that bundle their entertainment, amenities and lodging at a discount.

Make sure that you promote these deals on your website--otherwise, customers won't know unless they happen to compare your prices with an online travel agency's. Highlight the convenience of buying everything in one place and talking directly to hotel staff instead of bouncing around between third-party sellers.

2. Optimize Your Site

People want to book hotels in as few steps as possible. If your website is more streamlined than an online travel agency's, potential guests will use your site and recommend it to their friends. To start, reduce the number of clicks on your page. Eliminate unnecessary drop-down boxes, subpages and sidebars so that visitors find information in seconds.

Likewise, be transparent about your prices. List every fee on the booking page instead of surprising customers when they check out. You want visitors to check out as quickly as possible--dragging it out gives them time to change their minds--but always be honest so that customers trust your business.

With more people switching to mobile shopping, generate more leads with a mobile-friendly site. Smartphone and tablet browsers can scroll through your site, view a clean layout, click large buttons and read clear, accessible text. Consider developing an app for more brand recognition. Users see your app every day on their phones even if they're not booking a room.

3. Make Communication Easy

Live Chat

When customers have a question, the buying process stops until they find an answer. Install a chatbot so that visitors can find answers to frequently asked questions. To catch their attention, invest in an active chatbot that sends a notification, asking visitors if they need help. Likewise, make sure you have a FAQ page for visitors to browse.

If the bot doesn't have the answer, your potential guests want to talk to a human. Place your phone number and email address at the top of the page so that they can reach out immediately. Additionally, consider hiring staff members to answer questions through the virtual chat. This can generate leads because they'll gather the customers' contact information, leading to a follow-up.

4. Offer Discounts

Give people discounts when they complete an action on your site, such as following you on social media or signing up for your email newsletter. This excites them because they're getting a special deal, but they'll have to book through your site to earn the discount.

Similarly, offer a rewards program exclusively for people who book directly. They can earn points when they order a room and complete certain actions, such as leaving a review. Consider giving customers a sign-up bonus so that they're eager to spend money. You can also surprise them with birthday and holiday deals.

5. Incorporate Reviews

Alongside other hotel revenue management services, boost your credibility with a reviews section. Customers trust other buyers because they have no reason to artificially promote your hotel. You'll also show visitors that you're open to feedback even if it's a little negative.

If you're worried about clients leaving negative reviews, simply keep providing stellar customer service. You might get the occasional one- or two-star review, but most people will recommend your hotel, leading visitors to click the "Book Now" button. Plus, you can assess your operation's strengths and weaknesses and make adjustments if necessary.

6. Use Professional Photos

taking professional photos for a hotel

Potential guests might live hundreds or thousands of miles away from the hotels on your site. You can get more direct bookings by helping them tour your facilities without leaving the house. Showcase your rooms, lobby, amenities, hallways and outdoor areas with crisp, high-definition photos taken from a guest's point of view. You can share these photos on social media as well as your website to impress your followers.

For an immersive experience, hire a company to create a virtual tour. Customers can click or move their cursors to "walk" through the hotel, check out a 360-degree view and look at the floors and ceilings. Take it a step further by creating videos for virtual reality (VR) headsets. You could also film video tours where you guide viewers through the building.

Photos can also provoke an emotional reaction. When you include pictures of guests laughing, splashing in the pool, relaxing in the lobby and having fun, visitors imagine themselves in those situations. Stock photo websites offer thousands of options, but hiring a photographer to take pictures at your hotel strengthens your branding.

7. Limit Their Options

Third-party websites can overwhelm visitors with hundreds of hotels and dozens of events, deals and packages. Drive more traffic to your site by giving clients a clean, streamlined experience. Provide options to customize their visit, but eliminate unnecessary choices that make them overthink their purchase and possibly leave your website. After all, what's easier to choose from: three boxes of chocolates or twelve boxes with dozens of customization options?

Get more direct bookings with hospitality revenue management services. Rate management involves adjusting your prices according to marketing trends and keeping prices consistent across third-party sites. Specifically, Bridgetown Revenue Management Solutions' rate management services include performance reviews, competitive rate shops, group pick-up reporting, strategic planning, channel distribution management and more.

Contact Bridgetown Revenue Management Solutions to build a customized plan with sales, marketing and revenue management services for your hotel.