New hotel? Here's how to use OTAs to drive future direct bookings

“If I was starting a hotel from scratch, I’d give all my distribution to OTAs and just concentrate on the guest and their experience.”

That was the view announced by David Turnbull, co-founder of SnapShot, at the Seize Opportunity in Disruption conference in London a few weeks ago.

The comments sparked all the controversy you’d expect from an industry fired up by the Direct Booking movement. But thinking in absolute binaries – direct vs OTA, good vs evil – doesn’t help anyone, least of all a new hotel. The truth is, creating a successful direct booking strategy means striking a fruitful balance between the two.

At Triptease we believe that Direct is Best. We also believe that featuring on OTAs can lead to more direct bookings in the long run. We don’t believe at all that concentrating on direct bookings means taking any focus off the guest and their experience.

We’ve put together some thoughts on how new hotels can get the best of both worlds.

Make the most of your OTA exposure

Believing that Direct is Best doesn’t mean blindly ignoring the value of OTAs. They’re a great channel for building brand recognition and incremental revenue.

In fact, many hotels who now have a significant chunk of direct revenue began by handing over the majority of their bookings to OTAs.

So how did they make the switch?

A successful direct booking strategy will make sure that once so-called ‘Bookingised’ guests reach a hotel, they’re turned into direct bookers for their next trip (or even better, forever).

Good in-hotel marketing can incentivise your guests to come straight to you next time. The solutions can be pretty simple, but they make a big difference:

  • Offer OTA bookers a special rate code allowing them to book direct at a discount for their next trip
  • Reward direct bookers with bonus loyalty programme points
  • Train staff to always mention the perks of booking direct when checking guests in

Getting creative with your guest engagement can reap serious rewards for your direct booking strategy. Putting real effort into building relationships with guests is mutually beneficial: they have a better travel experience, while you increase your chances of winning them back from the OTA for their next booking.

Read rest of the article at TripTease