VAT Survival Guide For Irish Hoteliers: 25 Ideas To Slash Cost Of Booking
Regrettably, the rumours have been confirmed. Long feared by tourism businesses all over Ireland, the government has recently declared that the sector’s VAT rate will increase from 9% to 13.5% from January 2019.
Ever since the finance minister’s unwelcome announcement, the hospitality industry has been awash with talks of its catastrophic impact on hotels, growing uncertainty and declining competitiveness.
No doubt, most management teams are busy reviewing their options right now and looking for ways to reduce expenses.
We too want to lend you a helping hand. We’ve compiled a list of 25 ideas on how to generate more direct revenue and ultimately reduce hefty OTA commission charges.
Give the Best Rate to Direct Channels
- Guarantee the best rate on your own website. Really, this is the most powerful tool that you can deploy to sell rooms and win market share back from OTAs. Third-party providers often lock customers into rigid arrangements. Extend the most favourable terms and conditions – such as free cancellation or no deposit – to direct bookers.
- Give compelling reasons to your customers to book directly on your hotel’s site. Consider offering welcome treats, a dining voucher or free laundry. Be sure to tailor the reward to your own particular audience.
- Arrange an upgrade lottery for each day that is only open to reservations made directly with the hotel. Customers love entering competitions, while occupancy levels allow for a single daily upgrade at most properties.
- Earn your customers’ trust by making a price promise. If a better rate is found elsewhere, provide compensation to guests such as money back guarantee or a free incentive. The greater the payoff, the more assured browsers will be that you present the best possible deal.
- Don’t limit your ‘best rate’ strategy to your website. Utilise all your online marketing techniques to get this message across. Your direct booking benefits need to be displayed on your social media channels, email campaigns, digital advertising, email signatures, guest communication and so on.
Perfect Your Website
- Highlight reasons to book direct on your homepage and booking engine. It’s not enough to guarantee the best rate, you must shout from the rooftops that you do so. Prominent call-to-action features can make all the difference to your conversion rate.
- Use engaging exit pop-ups to reinforce the advantage of direct bookings. ‘’Are you sure you don’t want to save money?” Leave no doubt that browsers will find the best offers here.
- Promote your rooms and suites with specific imagery for each category, list all your amenities, showcase rates clearly and always include a ‘BOOK NOW’ button. If your property boasts a range of room types, consider withholding the higher categories from OTAs to provide exclusivity.
- Let users compare your rates with OTAs. Implement a price widget on your own booking engine. This saves time for browsers and encourages faster decision making.
- Always keep the last room for your own channel. Assign availability to your website as priority over third-party vendors. Ensure that rates are set up at least 12 months in advance on your booking engine.