man staring at a computer screen possibly looking online at a hotel as they encourage direct bookings

If your hotel or resort isn’t getting as many direct bookings as you’d like, it’s time to look at your book direct strategy, or perhaps lack thereof.

NB: This is an article from eTourism

There are several ways you can forge a solid and effective strategy for getting customers to book directly at your hotel – both as new and repeat guests.

To find out why your direct bookings are low, take a look at the following and consider which you are focusing on and, at the same time, possibly neglecting.

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Better Rates

How do your rates compare with the OTAs? If this is something you haven’t taken the time to look at, it could be the reason you’re losing out.

Furthermore, are you offering better rates than the local competition? And if not, why? What is your hotel offering that your competitors aren’t?

It’s OK to be charging more than the local competition. But make sure that you are clearly showing – and telling – new customers what it is your hotel is doing better so they aren’t deterred at first glance.

Offers and Perks

Promos, discounts and perks are things you can take total control of.

Having that power, offering sporadic discounted rates, guest freebies on arrival and local partnership discounts will make it a no-brainer for customers to book directly with you.

You may be thinking that you’re already doing this. If so, have you tried introducing a loyalty ladder rewards scheme for repeat guest bookings?

Communication and Engagement

Communication and engaging with customers is crucial, and that goes for email marketing, social media interaction, blogging, replying to guest reviews and making yourself available over the phone.

Offering cheaper direct rates, better guest facilities and new exclusive promos is great, but are you doing the work to promote and market these on a communicational level?

With that said, it’s also important to make sure inactive social media accounts, outdated blogs and unclear contact details aren’t discouraging and scaring off customers for other options.

Are You Utilising All of the Above?

It’s important to evaluate the above – and regularly – making sure that you aren’t neglecting one at any given time, and always combining them effectively as an ongoing book direct strategy for your hotel.

If you are utilising these in your strategy, you may be asking why your direct bookings are still low and why customers continue to turn to the OTAs.

To know this, we must ask what it is the OTA experience delivers. And the simple answer that most will tell you is it is convenient, easy and reliable.

There’s no doubt that the above strategies are effective for getting customers to book direct. But if you’re not providing the same user experience – if not a better one – than the OTAs, it could be the reason why your conversation rate isn’t as high as you’d like it to be.

In other words: your overall book direct strategy could be falling flat at the final hurdle.

Hotel Website Design and Booking Engine

As the final stage of the booking process, it’s of utmost importance that your website and booking engine are at the heart of the customer experience.

Your book direct strategy may have won over a browsing customer, but if both your website and booking engine are hard to navigate, slow-loading and not up to modern standards both visually and functionally, the only thing you’ll convert is a frustrated customer considering other options.

Ultimately, remember what the OTA experience delivers, then strive for your booking engine design to be on par – if not better.

Read more articles from eTourism