With an explosion of online travel agencies creating both opportunities and threats for independent hotels. The process that many customers now use to choose and book a stay away from has changed beyond all recognition. There are still ways to encourage direct bookings vs OTAs and plenty of reasons to do so, which we will explore in this article.
On the one hand, OTAs offer a unique channel for promotions and market access. The volume of traffic they command gives independent hotels the opportunity to get offers out in front of thousands of potential customers who might never otherwise encounter their service.
On the other hand, competition is often ferocious. Many independent hotels find this becomes a “race to the bottom”. With some operators apparently willing to boost occupancy at almost any cost.
With this in mind, let’s explore some ways that you can boost your direct bookings and drive up profits.
People’s leisure habits have changed over the last decade.
In 2011, traditional TV consumed over 4 hours of time per day on average, whereas social media consumed just 90 minutes. By the end of 2021, it is estimated that this statistic will have been turned on its head. With traditional TV relegated to less than one hour per day, and social media accounting for over 3 hours.
You can take advantage of this change by utilising Influencer Marketing. This method of getting your hotel’s brand in front of a new audience allows you to micro-target very specific demographics. It can often be surprisingly cost-efficient when compared to other forms of advertising. Best of all, you can tie in a special offer to your influencer marketing campaign. This allows you to accurately measure the exact return on investment.
This marketing route lifts you out of the comparisons that afflict OTA websites and allows you to package a stay at your hotel as an experience, rather than just a convenient stopping-off point to grab a quick sleep before heading out again.
A major source of direct bookings could be literally walking in and out of your front door. Every day, people use receptions and bars/restaurants for business meetings, as a place to catch up with their emails or grab an after-work drink with colleagues.
These drop-in visitors could be your best source of direct bookings, as they already know the location of your hotel. They have had a chance to sample your efficient service. they are more likely to be tempted to return by an offer of a free extra night or a free room upgrade.
Best of all, when you email these previous visitors, you are not competing with anyone else for their attention. You have direct access to their inbox, and a carefully-crafted email campaign can be used to encourage them to return.
Enroll in our professional digital diploma to learn which tools you need to craft an effective email campaign and which platforms to utilize to find the best influencer.