Savvy hoteliers are always seeking ways to increase their slice of the pie. It seems like every new marketing tactic comes with a steep commission structure that makes it less useful. It’s time for hoteliers to make direct bookings the dominant revenue source for their properties. Here are eight strategies.
1) Use a commission-free booking engine
Come on folks, it’s not 2005 anymore. There are many low-cost, well-designed booking engines these days. It simply does not make sense to pay the same high commission on your own direct bookings that you have paid for the past ten years.
For-commission booking engines often promise higher conversions as a justification for these commission costs. They cite things like “user design studies” or “3rd-party integrations” that justify commissions. But I don’t buy it. There are are plenty of well-designed, flexible, powerful commission-free booking engines out there. (Ours is called mybookings).
Removing commissions from reservations made on your own website is the only way to make your direct channel worth it. It’s time to retire booking engine commission fees.
2) Mobile bookings–duh!
I’m embarrassed bringing this up. This should be a no-brainer by now. Time and time again I see hotel websites with booking engines that are not optimized for mobile devices. (To add insult to injury, some of them charge commissions!). According to a 2014 study, only 45% of hotels accept mobile bookings (TripBarometer). Guests will make 38% of all online bookings from mobile browsers by 2018. This is according to World Travel Market Global Trends’ 2014 report.
Getting your website and booking engine mobile optimized is easier than ever. If your current booking engine is not mobile optimized, switch today to one that is. Every day you wait, you lose up to 38% of your possible direct reservations.
3) The Billboard Effect
By now, we’re all familiar with The Billboard Effect. It’s the phenomena where guests who discover your hotel on an online travel agency (OTA) visit your website. Many end up booking directly with you. Properties who list inventory on OTAs increase their direct reservations by up to 26%. (The Billboard Effect, Chris Evans).
It seems counterintuitive, but you will increase direct reservations by listing inventory on OTAs. It’s smart to list at least a small segment of your inventory on OTAs to enjoy this phenomena. (Even if you don’t want to use OTAs as the primary source of your reservations.)
But, this can be a complicated and time-consuming project. Listing inventory on OTAs is not exactly a user-friendly procedure. Instead, find a channel manager. A channel manager (like our own myallocator) can help you push your vacant inventory to many different OTAs at once. It keeps them all up-to-date with your current vacancy status. This helps prevent overbookings while giving your OTA marketing reach the largest possible.
The more OTAs where you list your inventory, the more direct traffic you will get. Choose a channel manager that has many integrations. Favor those with niche marketplaces that suit your property best.