Direct bookings are an essential part of a resort’s business strategy that brings them closer to ideal margins. Although OTAs help position businesses toward the top in search results, their steep commission rates, ranging from 15% to as much as 25%, are a significant reason why the industry has started looking at opportunities to compel guests to book directly through resort websites. Direct bookings not only translate to higher margins, but they also offer resorts a vehicle to upsell the stay – be it a room upgrade or by adding on amenities or activities. Here are a few strategies that can help increase your direct bookings revenue.
- Smartphones. According to a recent study, more than 68% of American travelers booked hotels on their smartphones or tablet in the prior 12-month period. When it comes to being accessible on smartphones, keep it simple. While more travelers are booking from their devices, the study also indicated the importance of a mobile-friendly digital experience that simplifies navigation and booking.
- Websites. Capitalize on your site visitors by incorporating pop-ups and other graphical features that promote competitive rates if visitors book direct. Creative digital elements are known for their proven ability to capture the attention of potential guests and entice bookings quickly. Equally important, don’t assume web visitors will understand what sets your property apart. Use your website to state value-adds like free breakfast, shuttle service, parking, wi-fi, etc.
- Guest Reviews. Guest-generated content is extremely valuable in bringing in more visitors and driving direct bookings. Positive reviews and imagery may give your visitors the extra confidence they need to make a reservation. You may also consider leveraging your existing guest profile data to proactively communicate with past guests to encourage future stays.
- Rewards. Loyalty programs remain prevalent across the industry, and for a good reason. Guests are loyal to and trust hotel brands that demonstrate consistent values and service levels. Reward redemptions and even new bookings via reward programs have seen steady growth over OTA bookings, which is helping operators cut their guest acquisition costs.
In addition to providing the economic advantage of repeat visits and upsell revenue, direct bookings also lead to a more personalized experience than third-party sites by creating an immediate connection to your property.