If you run a hotel, you’re probably already familiar with the online travel agencies (OTAs) that dominate the hotel booking market. Companies like Expedia and Booking.com make it easy for travellers to find and book rooms at your hotel, but they also charge hefty commissions for each booking. In fact, OTA commissions can go up to 30% of the booking price.
According to a survey of over 2,000 respondents on hotel selection factors and booking methods, it looks like 41% prefer OTAs, while 29% book directly, and another 29% go for travel agents or tour operators (Market Sampler, 2022).
While OTAs can be a valuable source of bookings, it’s also important to develop a direct booking strategy that encourages guests to book directly with your hotel. Direct bookings not only save you money on OTA commissions, but they also give you more control over the guest experience and allow you to build stronger relationships with your guests.
Here are some reasons why a good direct booking strategy is so important
- Save money on OTA commissions: As mentioned above, OTA commissions can eat into your profits. By encouraging guests to book directly with you, you can keep more of the revenue from each booking.
- Build stronger guest relationships: When guests book directly with your hotel, you have the opportunity to connect with them before they arrive. This can help you personalise their experience and build stronger relationships that keep them coming back.
- Control the guest experience: When guests book through an OTA, you don’t have as much control over their experience. By encouraging direct bookings, you can ensure that guests have a seamless and personalised experience from start to finish.
So, how can you encourage direct bookings?
One way is to use a customer relationship management (CRM) system and marketing automation software. These tools can help you collect guest data, segment your audience, and send targeted messages that encourage direct bookings.
Here are a few ways a CRM and marketing automation software can help you develop a strong direct booking strategy:
- Personalise your messaging: With a CRM, you can collect information about your guests’ preferences, past bookings, and more. This allows you to send targeted messages that are personalised to their needs and interests, which can encourage them to book directly with you.
- Send targeted promotions: With marketing automation software, you can set up targeted promotions that are only available to guests who book directly with you. This can be a powerful incentive for guests who are considering booking through an OTA.
- Automate your follow-up: After a guest stays at your hotel, a CRM can help you automate follow-up messages that encourage them to book again. This can help you build loyalty and encourage direct bookings in the future.
- Create a targeted strategy for your OTA guests: Using the segmentation feature in For-Sight, you can set up automatic emails to be sent to your OTA guests before their stay, during their stay, and shortly after their stay without manually checking if they are OTA guests or not. This is a chance to customise your messages for this specific audience, encouraging them to share their information with your hotel and book directly with you in the future. Once you’ve set up your email workflow, For-Sight will automate the sent for you and you’ll be able to track the success of your campaigns within the Reporting Suite.
Overall, a good direct booking strategy is essential for any hotel that wants to save on OTA commissions and build stronger relationships with guests. By using For-Sight’s CRM and Marketing automation software, you can develop a strategy that encourages direct bookings and gives you more control over the guest experience.
So, start exploring these tools and see how they can help you take your hotel’s direct booking strategy to the next level. Schedule a free demo of For-Sight here.