online booking written on bright orange button on a keyboard reflecting importance to hotels of online bookings

For many hoteliers, they will be out of forced hibernation. That means now is the time to check your current details are correct (since many hit snooze on web refreshes back in mid-2020).

NB: This is an article from SiteMinder

Your website is the source of truth, and where OTA’s pull information on, the key areas to review are:

  • Are the contact details correct? Do you have someone currently managing that inbox or phone line?
  • Is your cancellation policy up-to-date to showcase a focus on flexibility?
  • Are your price strategies current?
  • Is your health and safety procedures front and centre?
  • Do you have the proper payment gateways that travellers prefer to use, such as Google Pay, Apple Pay and AfterPay?

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Poor online experience

It can be overwhelming when you look at what large OTA’s are spending on advertising and how you can even compete at any scale.

You can never compete with the TheBooking.Com chequebook, but you can compete with the tactics you use to drive users to your direct booking channel,” Josh Beckwith, from Sojern.

Focus on being uniquely you, not Expedia”, Edward St. Onge, from

Start by improving your website and experience it as a potential guest. Is it seamless? Does it make sense?

“Remember everyone coming to your website is a human, not a KPI. Our direct channels can lack the hospitality we offer, from start to finish engage them and don’t forget to sell the why,” Edward St. Onge

Ensure at every point the user is nurtured. Your booking journey should feel connected, however, when many teams are involved it can result in a very piece-by-piece build.

“Disjointed digital experiences [is a blocker], different departments own different levels, and the problems arise when each measure different metrics. This means at every stage of the funnel; it can look different to the potential guest depending on where they are in their booking journey.” Russell Daiber, from Laasie.

Not knowing your numbers

By diving into the behind-the-scenes of your bookings and website activity, you can better understand what’s working, what’s not, and most importantly, where you are losing potential guests.

Understand the current situation with your analytics. Where is your traffic coming from, and compare your performance to the market? Instead of looking at the overall conversion rate, look at the different stages of the funnel. Use this to identify where issues lie [in your website purchase journey.  Fiona Gillen from The Hotels Network.

Using Facebook as a Direct Channel

With over 2.5 billion active users, Facebook presents are a marketing tool that hoteliers can tap into, usually for free.

For one of our clients, over 80% of bookings come via Facebook; it’s a power channel”, Charlie Young, from Book Me Bob.

Post at least 3-10 times to your feed to keep your followers engaged in making the most of Facebook. Facebook is the platform where you can showcase the experiences that make your hotel genuinely unique.

This is where you would share events happening around you, tours available and the surrounding amenities. Use this channel to provide a holistic experience and entertain your social community.

Understand they are doing something different on Facebook; they are using their time on Facebook for passive entertainment purposes. Cater to that. What you do in active search (such as Google) won’t work on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Think through this journey and ask yourself, am I entertaining, inspiring or helping them dream? Then consider how you bridge the gap between someone being entertained on your Facebook to engaging with your website. Consider creating tailored landing pages for this audience to meet them where they are,” Edward St. Onge, from

Facebook can be switched on as a direct booking channel; there are ways to integrate your bookings directly into your Facebook Business page to allow you to communicate and confirm bookings with users right within the platform.

“Travellers spend five times more time on Facebook than any other travel channel”, Josh Beckwith, from Sojern.

The data tells us travellers are highly engaged with the platform and are open to booking directly, but many hoteliers are not taking advantage of it.

Run an audit of your current Facebook page of where you can switch on tactics to attract future guests, ask yourself:

  • Do I post regularly?
  • Are my pictures and video up-to-date
  • Do I share what is happening in my area?
  • Have I plugged in a booking engine?
  • Does it allow users to pay using platforms like Google Pay, Apple Pay and AfterPay?
  • Do I respond to all chat messages, or have I set up automated responses?
  • What hoteliers can thrive from right now
  • Do you reward your social audience with special discounts or specials?

Review these areas first to amplify what you can achieve for free; once you find what posts are working and what your social audience wants, you can consider running paid campaigns like dynamic ads for travel.

The Upward Trend of Direct Bookings

Across all regions, one trend stood out — booking direct is preferred by all travellers over using OTA’s. Travellers now value relationships and transparency. By booking direct, travellers can get to know your hotel more, understand your policies better and be more than just a booking confirmation email you receive.

If the price is right
A recent SiteMinder study found that travellers are prioritising price.

“A common issue we see is price; if a guest can find a cheaper rate with you elsewhere, they will not go direct,” Fiona Gillen, from The Hotels Network.

Travellers prefer to book direct because they want to see what they are getting for the price. This includes the opportunities for experiences, events nearby and more. Your owned booking channel (your website) must provide the best deal from a holistic view.

Seeking confidence
“The pandemic has made people want confidence with the cancellation policies and flexibilities; they don’t want to rely on third parties,” Josh Beckwith, from Sojern.

We all have a travel sting story to tell from bookings in 2020-2021, whether it’s losing the total cost because you had to cancel due to lockdowns or flights not offering you full refunds when they couldn’t fly internationally. Everyone has a story that has scarred them from booking any travel in advance, but those that are ready want to go to the source. Travellers want to establish a relationship early with the hotel to build trust and essentially ask, ‘you’re not going to screw me over, are you?’.

The revenge travellers
Be prepared for pent-up demand to unleash. The ‘revenge traveller’ is ready to get out there and start experiencing life. These travellers seek exceptional opportunities to undo the past year or so of isolation and monotony.

Read rest of the article at SiteMinder