I recently co-hosted a Webinar with Mark Simpson from Boostly.
For anybody that hasn’t heard of Mark, he is a hospitality marketing expert. He has worked with more than 1,000 small accommodation businesses to help them improve their social media marketing and boost their direct bookings.
Given that the webinar was around 70 minutes, I thought it might be useful to collate some of the hints and tips we discussed in a quick blog post.
1. Use a Booking Engine.
Not a surprise I start with this one! But it is important. According to a recent study commissioned by Statistic Brain Research Institute more than 65% of hotel bookings are made online. Enough said. It needs to be quick and simple to book on your site. People are impatient. If your Booking Engine isn’t up to scratch, your conversion rates will suffer.
2. Work with Online Travel Agents
Boosting your direct booking numbers does not mean ending your relationship with the OTA’s. They have enormous marketing budgets. They can help get eyeballs on your property.
A high proportion of travellers that find your property through an OTA will try and visit your direct site. Here is your opportunity (see point 1!) Think of them like a search engine. Work with more than one to spread your chances of being found.
3. How is your Shop Window?
Simple things but your website should be clean and easy to navigate. Your “Book Now” call to action should be prominent.
Often overlooked but supremely important, clearly state why guests should book directly. This shouldn’t be a Dostoevsky length rant on why you feel OTA commissions are too high.
What do you offer a direct booker? A few ideas:
- A discount. Direct discount booking code.
- An opportunity. Entrance into the room upgrade lottery.
- A freebie. A cocktail, a box of chocolates…
- An advantage. Direct guests can check into their rooms 2 hours earlier than OTA bookers.
4. Set the Scene
They say a picture paints a thousand words. Services like boom.co make high quality professional photographs affordable for all businesses.
Remember to include a bathroom picture for each room type on your Booking Engine.
4. Get those Emails!
Whether somebody books with you directly through your website, over the phone, through an OTA or by some other means, make sure you have their email address. When OTA’s send you a reservation they’ll normally obscure the email address. They know they are valuable.
Registration forms are manual and old fashioned. Use a PMS that offers full online check-in. One of the many benefits is that you can capture missing email addresses as part of the check-in process and the guest record is instantly updated.
5. Encourage Return Bookings
Capturing email addresses is half the battle. It’s what you do with them that matters. Firstly make sure you have a great post stay ready to be automatically sent to all your guests once their stay is over.
Asides from thanking them and pushing in the direction of your preferred review platform. Consider offering an incentive to stay with you again. Create a discount code within your PMS and encourage guests to share it with friends and family.
Secondly, export your guest information from your PMS to MailChimp (or similar) and send targeted campaigns to past guests. Packages are a great way to encourage guests to return, as well as cranking up your REVPAR.
Your Hotel Management System is a key component in driving direct bookings.
Recently voted the best all-in-one Hotel Management System in the World by industry leading Hotel Tech Report. RoomRaccoon offers all of the features mentioned above and much more.
So if you are looking to adopt a system for the first or if your current solution isn’t up to scratch. Arrange a demo of RoomRaccoon, we know you’ll be impressed.