According to the latest research, approximately 61-75% of online shoppers used OTAs when booking a hotel room and 15-44% of online shoppers booked directly from the hotel website. This ratio is typically expected as most hotels will offer lower rates on OTAs and won’t make their hotel websites enticing or user-friendly enough to encourage direct bookings. So how can you encourage more customers to book direct, instead of through the OTAs?
Here are some common OTA features that you can incorporate into your hotel website to encourage more customers to book direct:
Add a section for guests to leave comments and reviews
On OTAs, shoppers have the opportunity to compare rates between hotels. Because that isn’t appropriate for your hotel website, a way to reassure your guests that your hotel beats the rest is to have a comments and reviews section.
Of course, positive reviews are great, but you may be wondering what the effect of negative reviews posted on your site will have on your bookings. Surprisingly, negative reviews can be beneficial if you handle them appropriately; that includes keeping track of reviews and apologizing for and correcting any issues/concerns that guests may have had. Seeing that you take your guests reviews seriously and that you are working to ensure that the issue won’t happen again will make most guests feel better about booking with your property, since it shows that you are proactive and are determined to provide a great experience for guests.
Include a photo gallery
Typically on OTAs, hotels will feature a few photos of rooms and services offered at the hotel. So why not offer a gallery with professional photos of rooms, services and amenities on your own brand’s site? Studies have shown that consumers respond more strongly to visual images. If you offer high-quality photos of your property on your website, this is can stimulate action (i.e. booking through your site, rather than searching out rates on the OTAs instead).
Create a mobile app that can be used on smartphones and tablets
It’s estimated that more than 25% of online travel transactions will be conducted on a mobile device in 2017. Most OTAs already offer mobile apps, so having a mobile app can help increase your direct bookings from those consumers who prefer to book using their mobile device. The app must be professionally made, visually appealing and user-friendly. Be sure that the booking path consists of no more than five steps because potential guests don’t like having to go through a lengthy process to book, especially on the tiny screen of their mobile device.
Include destination activities
Most OTAs do not sell many destination activities, as their main goal is to sell flights and hotel bookings. This is a great way to make your hotel website stand out to potential customers. Include a section that showcases year-round local attractions and activities for tourists to discover. You can also create a blog that highlights seasonal, monthly or weekly events taking place locally.
As always, entice with incentives
Your hotel website can offer packages or incentives for potential guests to encourage direct bookings. Possible offerings can include free or discounted in-hotel services (i.e. food, spa activities, parking, etc.) with a purchase of a certain room. A great way to implement this is to create a loyalty program, which only earns points when rooms are booked directly, as this will encourage guests to continue to book directly.
As you can see, there are many ways that your hotel can compete with the OTAs and encourage guests to book directly. So implement these five tips today to beat the OTAs and boost your property’s direct bookings!