While OTAs make your property visible to the world and help you get more bookings, their fees can be serious - up to 35 per cent. Unfortunately most people nowadays tend to book through OTAs. Some polls show that about 60-75 per cent of all customers used an OTA to secure a room. In China this share goes up to 90 per cent. The good news is that you can attract many of these customers and directly get bookings through your own website, too. Not only will you save money, but it will also give you the chance to create guest loyalty. Here are several steps you can undertake:
Link your OTA profile to your website
The first thing you can do is add a direct link to your website on your OTA profile. Your web page should have a lot of “Book Now” buttons and an easy-to-use booking engine that will not confuse visitors. A mobile version of your hotel website is also necessary, because more and more customers are booking via smartphones and other mobile devices.
Create a real connection with your guests
Go the extra mile and make guests’ stay at your hotel memorable. The devil is in the details. Encourage your receptionists to remember their names. This will create a closer connection between your staff and guests showing them you care and value their presence. You can also nicely surprise your guests by leaving a box of chocolates or fresh flowers in their rooms while they are out. This will make them feel special and more receptive. Also, once they leave, you can send them post-departure emails to let them know they can book directly next time to get a better deal.
Offer benefits to guests booking directly
Another easy way to attract more direct bookings is through incentives. It can be done by bringing extra value and helping visitors understand the related benefits. For instance, discounts, bonuses, free extra services and more, offered to direct bookers, will do the job. Also, your website should be the home to your best deals.
Enhance your visibility on search engines
What good is your website if it is not easily visible? To change that you may activate a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign to generate more traffic to your website. This way your website will be among the top search results, which will greatly increase the number of direct bookings you get.
Simply ask visitors
Do not hesitate to ask your customers to book directly through your website. There’s nothing wrong in that. Quite the opposite - people always want to get the best deal they can. So when you explain all the benefits that come with direct bookings, chances are they will flock to your website.
Get as much customer information as possible
A really serious problem is that OTAs never share customers’ contact info with hotels. Having it will allow you to maintain direct communication and encourage guests to book straight with you. In addition, you will be able to send them promotional offers, surveys and ads, and effectively influence their next booking decision.
It may seem impossible to bypass OTAs but this is not true. We just gave you six strategies to perform such a conversion. By using them you will be able to attract more direct bookings, save a lot of money and have lots of happy guests. Once they know they can get more through a direct booking they will never go back to OTAs. You can trust us on that.