Increase Direct Bookings to Your Hotel in 2023 [Updated]

There are many options when it comes to selling your accommodation inventory to guests. 

From Offline Travel Agents, Online Travel Agents, and Destination Management services to Direct Reservations.

Direct bookings are essential for any establishment providing accommodation, meals, and other services for travellers and tourists.

Direct Reservations help hoteliers achieve a healthy market mix competing with OTA and control distribution costs, but they bring in more data from guests.

Data is a precious resource for making informed decisions. Hoteliers can improve client reputation and service by acquiring contact information and other data such as guest preferences.

Even though the Online Travel Agents like Expedia, Booking.com, and Airbnb, Agoda has a larger market share due to the platform’s dependability and offers. 

As a hotelier, the top priority should be to promote direct bookings from both on-site and online.

Online Direct Booking Growth - Way Forward

The success of online marketing and sales depends heavily on how effective you are in making the best out of all channels. 

From OTA offers and rates, email marketing to social media and from hotel CRM to the brand website.

Your hotel’s marketing strategy and plan can include promoting your loyalty program on social media, PPC and through email, to attract guests to your website.

You can spend on internet-focused marketing, such as sponsored Google and social media ads.

To boost visitor interaction, generate feedback, and drive future bookings, your email plan should include an after-sales contact program while you have an upselling system.

Direct Booking Growth Strategy - Key Elements

Conversion Optimized Design

Ensuring that the hotel website design is optimized for conversion is the first step toward acquiring more direct bookings.

Smooth User Experience

When a potential guest visits the website, it must provide a smooth booking experience. 

Therefore the hotel website must be user-friendly and appealing visually. 

Using high quality well composed photography is key to success in this area.

Mobile-friendly Design

Most people make reservations through mobile devices. 

To attract more people to the website, it must be responsive with a mobile-optimized layout.

Direct Hotel Bookings Vs Online Travel Agents (OTAs) in 2023

Online travel agencies often known as OTAs have tremendous marketing budgets and extremely user-friendly websites that employ psychology driven tactics to get people to stay loyal to their brands. 

With the mass exodus from DMC to OTA’s many Travel Agents are looking at digital marketing to compete with these Online Travel Agencies in 2023.

Hotels sometimes allocate the full inventory to online distribution channels to sell more rooms and boost their online awareness among a captive audience.

The traveller may compare rates, make assessments, and judge the entire hotel score much more easily using OTA channels.

OTAs are used by a substantial percentage of travellers to find and book hotels.

Using OTA’s can be both positive and detrimental to a brand, the hotel may get bookings and increase awareness but at the cost of competing on rate equally with other properties in your location and an 18% to 25% commission to the channel. 

Most times the hotels with the best location and the lowest rate end up getting the most number of bookings.

On the other hand, a direct booking strategy requires investment, which may be less than the commission you would pay an OTA while yielding more profitable outcomes and eventually getting out of the price comparison game with a focus on experiences surrounding your property and more.

Direct Hotel Reservations - Brand Reputation Growth

One of the most satisfying goals for any hotelier would be to increase direct bookings.

In an island nation like Sri Lanka, the scale of the industry and the prevalence of third-party reservation sites, maintaining a balance between Offline Travel Agents, OTA, and direct reservations are becoming increasingly critical for hotels.

The importance of OTAs in increasing your reservations is crucial because over 60% of booking comes through them, and the cost of maintenance is low for the hotels.

Increasing direct bookings is better for your hotel business because it reduces the cost of brokering with OTA’s, and you get to stay away from the price war with extra add-ons such as excursions, loyalty programs, value offers etc.

Direct Reservations Growth - Suggestions

The hotel’s success depends on selling more Room Nights through direct bookings.

More and more hoteliers are interested in learning how to increase direct reservations post-pandemic.

We always recommend going to a digital marketing agency that specializes in the hospitality industry if you don’t have the skill to do it yourself.

The following are some suggestions for increasing direct reservations.

Online Direct Bookings - Optimizing the website

Create a strong online brand that attracts the most visitors possible.

To increase organic traffic to your website, consider using the best content marketing strategy.

When you integrate an online booking engine into your hotel website, your website visitors can view real-time room availability.

Make sure you integrate an Internet Payment Gateway into your booking engine, or you can use a 3rd party booking engine with the payment gateway included for a monthly management fee.

Promote positive guest reviews on the brand website. Potential customers read hotel reviews and regard them as crucial before making a final decision.

Offers such as Advance Booking Discounts, Last Minute Deals, seasonal offers and giveaways can help you attract more people to your website. 

Indicate the types of benefits they are eligible for if they book directly.

Online Direct Bookings - Internet Booking Engine

Implement a booking engine that is compatible with your hotel’s social media presence.

Boost your visibility in search engines through SEO. Because hashtags and search terms are used by more than half of online travellers to find their ideal hotel.

Search engines allow travellers to compare hotel prices across multiple OTAs, allowing them to make an informed hotel reservation.

Hence, having a good presence on Google My Business Listing or Bing Listing is vital.

Online Direct Bookings - Follow-up Strategy

Handle booking abandonment with tact so that new visitors do not leave your website without booking or paying.

Encourage your guests to book directly with you by rewarding them with points that can be redeemed quickly.

On your hotel’s website, provide a call-to-action button. A well-designed, well-placed call-to-action button can make all the difference.

You can utilize various buttons, such as “More information,” “Contact Us,” or “Book now,” depending on what your consumers are looking for. 

In General, people tend to be hesitant to click on the “Book Now” button at the stage of looking for a place. 

Hence, a button like “Check Availability” might serve you best.

Reward guests with a loyalty program that offers meaningful and tangible benefits, such as discounts on services, free nights in a combined reservation, free room upgrade, or even free breakfast.

There is a gamut of things you need to streamline to get the best out of direct bookings and online in its entirety a full-time job.

We hope you now have a basic understanding and some ideas on how to increase direct bookings and expand your profits normalizing the market mix.

Feel free to reach out to HypeX digital marketing agency in Sri Lanka, if you feel you need assistance to get the online marketing done right!