What is your direct booking strategy? Do you even have one? The OTA’s have lots of wonderful marketing and promotional ways to entice people to book with them – can you use some of their best practice ideas to help convert more business on your own website?
- Have an eye-catching website; Can you open up your own website and honestly say “WOW! This place looks amazing!”? First impressions matter and if your website is slow to open and doesn’t have stunning imagery to wow visitors, many will simply close it and discount you as an option. Look through all the pages – if you were going away and needing to book accommodation would you book this property?
- Have a prominent ‘Book Now’ button; You need to make it easy for people to book – don’t make them search for where they can make a booking, if it’s too hard they’ll book elsewhere. Go through the process of making a booking – is it easy? If it’s not perhaps you need to look at a new booking engine.
- Have a simple booking page; If your booking page has too many options this can become too busy and cause people to get overwhelmed and go elsewhere.
- Offer reasons for a potential guest to book with you; eg Make your cancellation policy more flexible, offer a late check out, offer a free upgrade, offer a free breakfast, suggest they phone you for the best price.
- When a potential guest calls you – don’t let them go without booking; If you don’t secure the booking while they’re on the phone, chances are they’ll keep searching online and may even book one of your competitors instead!
- Encourage repeat bookings; guests might book through their preferred channel because it’s easy, but if you give them reason to book directly with you next time they are likely to do so, especially if they loved their stay and felt a connection to your property. This gives you the chance to develop a loyal base of guests and the ability to them offer them a discount off their next stay via a link or promo code on your booking engine, or by phoning directly.