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Ways To Grow Your Hotel's Direct Bookings

Julie Frost
February 23, 2024

Third-party booking platforms drive traffic to your hotel, but they also take a cut of your profits. You keep 100% of every sale with direct bookings through your website. Unfortunately, the general public doesn't know this. They click on the first search engine result, which is often a booking site, forcing you to take a pay cut.

To grow hotel direct bookings, travelers need a reason to find your website and stay there. You've probably worked with web designers and content writers to create a sleek, accessible page. However, you'll need attention-grabbing elements, fast checkouts, attractive upgrades, and exclusive perks to hold people's interest.

With a few tweaks, people will seek out your website instead of stumbling on it during a search. You'll keep profits, attract new visitors, and possibly outrank your competitors.

Utilize Search Engine Optimization (SEO)


The first step is getting travelers on your site in the first place. However, searching for your hotel often returns to third-party websites, and most people don't venture past the first or second page. Search engine optimization (SEO) boosts your rankings so visitors see your website first.

Keywords are SEO's most essential tool. Web designers research popular search strings, such as "hotels in Las Vegas," "affordable hotels," and "hotels near me." Afterward, they incorporate these phrases into your website. They find natural ways to insert the keywords instead of throwing a list at the bottom of the page, ensuring guests don't notice.

Other SEO techniques include:

  1. Reducing loading times
  2. Writing strong page titles
  3. Removing useless content
  4. Downsizing bulky images or videos
  5. Inserting internal links
  6. Getting other websites to link to your page
  7. Optimizing snippets that appear in search results

Once you've optimized your site, your traffic may double or triple, helping you grow hotel direct bookings. You could also buy Google Ads that place your site at the top of the results. Still, SEO is valuable because some people use other search engines, such as Bing.

While you're at it, learn about cybersecurity for hotels. Safe technology usage invites more sales and preserves your public image.

Create a Sense of Urgency

Vacationers have landed on your website--now you need to close the sale. The longer they stay, the more time they have to think about leaving, so grab their attention as soon as possible. Add search forms on the front page and a "Book Now" button to your header, helping customers find rooms in seconds.

You could also greet new visitors with a pop-up advertisement. These ads are a little controversial because they give people flashbacks to 90s Internet spam. However, modern pop-ups stay on the site instead of opening another browser.

Consider experimenting with these ads:

  1. Offering a discount for first-time guests
  2. Advertising a flash sale
  3. Showing a countdown timer for holiday bookings
  4. Suggesting room upgrades

Just make sure they're easy to close. If they block your website, customers will go somewhere else.

Reduce Checkout Times

Travelers enjoy online browsing because they can move at their own pace. No one's waiting in line behind them. However, they still want a fast experience. You want them to move quickly, too: otherwise, they'll have time to consider canceling their trip or switching to a competitor.

Test your system to see how many clicks it takes to book a room. Afterward, see how long it takes at a competitor's website. Which clicks are unnecessary? How can you streamline the process? Booking hotels is always complex because guests must choose dates, times, locations, and upgrades, but you might shave off a minute or two.

Share Vibrant Photos

Vibrant hotel photos on the laptop

Travelers can't wait for their trip when they see your clean lobby, furnished rooms, inviting hallways, and relaxing amenities. When you hire a professional photographer, you'll show them how much fun they'll have. Don't they want to swim in your crystal-clear pool? Now they can with direct bookings.

Take it a step further by introducing virtual reality (VR) tours. Hire a company to create an interactive VR model with real footage of your hotel, then upload a model that customers can scroll through or visit with VR headsets. Virtual reality allows them to visit your business while they're hundreds of miles away.

Filming yourself touring your location is a more budget-friendly option. Walk through the halls, show off your rooms, and check out the lobby, narrating the experience as you go. Clients imagine themselves visiting the hotel with you--and once they have a strong image in their heads, they're more likely to check-in.

Reach Mobile Travelers

Right now, open your website on a mobile browser. Can you quickly schedule a date without shrinking or magnifying the page, squinting at small text, or searching for buttons? If you're struggling, you're losing potential lodgers who prefer a streamlined experience. Optimizing your site attracts hundreds of guests that you still need to include.

Mobile sites have clean, vertical layouts, large text, and tapable buttons. You'll include everything from your desktop website in a different design. Booking forms sit at the top of the page. Your guests can schedule, cancel, and adjust their dates anywhere with an Internet connection.

Investing in a mobile app adds another layer of convenience. Apps typically have simpler layouts and exclusive benefits. Through the app, travelers can:

  1. Schedule their visit
  2. View their rewards points
  3. Contact customer service
  4. Check-in and out
  5. Unlock their door with a digital key
  6. See floor plans

Collaborating with other businesses like Uber and DoorDash allows lodgers to hire them through your app. This encourages more frequent usage.

Apps also have a professional yet exclusive image. Repeat visitors feel like they're building a relationship with you--after all, they took the time to download your platform. Racking up positive App Store or Google Play reviews encourages more people to sign up.

Highlight Your Features

Sometimes, a little push is all you need to generate leads. You mention a pool, but did you emphasize the relaxing atmosphere, clear waters, and accompanying hot tub? Share photos of your delicious hot breakfasts, and emphasize "free" wherever possible. Technically, you bundle these features with reservations, but the word "free" makes them imagine a price cut.

Offer Upgrades

Free room upgrades provide another useful, concrete reason to reserve directly. For the same price, visitors receive a larger bed, a cityscape view, or a room with a fireplace. This has two benefits for you: you'll grow hotel direct bookings and snag visitors who are about to change their minds. They won't cancel their trip if they score a special deal.

Likewise, offer exclusive packages with a bundled discount. Travelers can purchase a room, WiFi access, spa session, hot breakfast, swimming pool access, and early check-in with a single click. Consider partnering with local stores, restaurants, and attractions for more benefits.

Provide Freebies

Visitors expect free breakfasts and housekeeping, but rewarding them for direct booking puts extra smiles on their faces. Exclusive freebies could include:

  1. Free food and drinks at your bar or restaurant
  2. Gift cards for local attractions
  3. Waived processing fees
  4. Free access to amenities
  5. Room personalization

Make sure you emphasize that you only offer these gifts through your website. Otherwise, they'll complain when they can't find them on booking platforms.

Launch a Rewards Program

Woman holding a rewards card

To grow hotel direct bookings, you need a feature that customers don't find on third-party websites. Vacation platforms display your hotel's name, photos, features, and vacancies, but they don't have a gift: a rewards program that delights repeat visitors. Not only will they book directly to earn points, but they'll kick themselves if they forget.

Rewards programs offer points for every visit. Users spend them like cash or take advantage of special amenities as they accumulate points. A common reward is one free night after they've stayed three or four times. If you partner with credit cards or airlines, lodgers earn points for spending and flying, encouraging them to travel more.

Periodically, thank them for their membership with gifts that don't require points: discounted prices, room upgrades, free drinks, and other surprises. It's true that people will sign up just for the benefits, but you're still getting multiple visits.

Send Follow-up Emails

A vacationer started to book a room, but they got bored, changed their mind or found cheaper prices elsewhere. Now they have an unused reservation in their cart. Luckily, they submitted their contact information, so you could send a follow-up email that reminds them about their purchase.

If they're unresponsive, send a coupon code or highlight your hotel's features, such as your in-house restaurant or close proximity to tourist destinations. They'll start thinking about a fun vacation and schedule a date afterward.

Install a Chatbox

Live Chat on the mobile version

Chatboxes lengthen guests' time on your site--but in a good way. As soon as they ask a question, they're on your page for the duration of the conversation. The bot offers fast assistance while keeping them engaged and considering booking a room. Plus, you'll retain users who might've left because they didn't feel like searching through your FAQ.

Bots can even initiate the conversation with a pop-up greeting, inviting customers to ask questions or learn about discounts. This grabs their attention and shows that you're listening. Why check out a third-party website when they can book with you directly and get help simultaneously?

You can install chatboxes with bots, human agents, or a combination of the two. The companies employ their own agents, so you don't have to hire anyone on your end. You can opt for 24-hour service or have bots take over after office hours. Cheaper services offer 24-hour bots with no human agents, but you may collect visitors' contact information and follow up with them later.

How Bridgetown Revenue Management Solutions Increases Direct Bookings

More eyes on your property leads to increased revenue. We help you market your business, drive traffic, review your performance, and distribute bookings through different channels- most importantly, your platform. Browse the BRMS website to learn more about our services.