online booking key on keyboard reflecting importance of direct bookings for hotels

One of the main goals of every hotelier is to increase hotel direct bookings one way or another.

NB: This is an article from Cvent

Not only are direct bookings profitable, but they offer relationship-building opportunities and can make it easier to earn repeat business.

But even if you have a plan in place and see regular direct booking success, there may still be some gaps to fill. So whether you’re just starting out or need to revamp your current strategy, keep reading for expert tips, as well as scientific and anecdotal evidence, for how to increase hotel direct bookings.

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Discover how to increase hotel direct bookings with these 5 tips and strategies:

We interviewed several experts in the hotel booking sphere to bring you the best advice on how to increase hotel direct bookings. The tips below range from long-term strategies to straightforward actions you can take today.

1. Polish your website(s).

If your hotel’s website is where the direct booking is taking place, it goes without saying that it needs to be user-friendly, right? That’s where hotel website design comes in. While every website is unique, there are a few necessities that will help boost the user experience and, in turn, increase direct bookings. These include:

  • A streamlined checkout process. Reduce unnecessary steps in your conversion process so that visitors can quickly and easily book with you. 
  • Clear navigation. Make it easy for visitors to find the information they need.
  • Contact information. Consider a live chat, hotel chatbots, or a texting function to help answer questions quickly. 
  • Copy and media that showcase your benefits. Prioritise high-quality images and video, clear messaging, and engaging content.
  • Great technical SEO. Fast load times, compressed images, search-engine optimised text, and proper security all put your website in front of more potential customers (more on this later).
  • Responsive design. Your design should easily accommodate a variety of screen sizes and devices, including a fully-optimised mobile experience.

Additionally, make sure you’re utilising a hotel booking engine that best fits the needs of you and your customers.

2. Prioritise loyalty.

Jennifer Hill leads Client Solutions at Kalibri Labs and has over 15 years of experience in direct hotel revenue/distribution. In a recent interview with Cvent, Hill said it’s easier to increase hotel direct bookings with existing clients than to start over with new leads. 

“Focus on your most loyal members,” Hill says, “particularly if you are a branded hotel. Loyalty member rates (discounts accessed by loyalty members logged into your website) are growing in contribution and keeping pace in most markets and in most chain scales (especially upscale and upper midscale) with OTA bookings. This is a critical guest base for most hotels.” 

Capitalise on these existing relationships with direct booking campaigns, offers, and reminders.

3. Use incentives.

In an International Hellenic University direct bookings study, one conclusion formed was that some hotels would be wise to include a welcome message that incentivises direct bookings for customers who land on their site. But they have to do it the right way. 

“The Hotel studied does not need to promote its lower direct prices as this eventually has a negative impact on users’ mind in terms of the Hotel’s quality and trustworthiness. Instead of this, the Hotel should raise travellers’ awareness by giving them an impression that when booking through its official hotel website, they will be given additional benefits during their stay which will lure them and make their stay more special.”

This can include nearly anything your hotel already has to offer. Examples “such as spa vouchers, free transfers or even complimentary meals” are all great options. “In this way, more users will be attracted and become willing to book directly.”

Read rest of the article at Cvent