When you rely significantly on OTAs (Online Travel Agents) like Airbnb and Booking.com, you’re committing to throwing up at least 15% of your booking revenue. Unless your policies are watertight, they will always side with the guest when there is a problem. Booking companies irritated many hosts by applying “force majeure” at the onset of the pandemic, effectively guaranteeing free refunds on non-refundable bookings to everyone who booked before the initial travel restrictions went into effect.
While guests could not have predicted a global epidemic, many hosts, including myself, felt betrayed by this decision, believing that payment should have been left to travel insurers. For many hosts, the lack of control over their own property is a source of aggravation. If you reject or cancel bookings on these sites that you are unhappy with, your listings may be penalised by appearing lower in search results.
Direct reservations give you greater control while also allowing you to earn more money.
Here are five strategies for increasing direct bookings for your hotel.
Have A Web Presence
If you want to acquire more direct reservations, having your own website is critical. First and foremost, it establishes trust among guests that your facility is legitimate! It also allows you significantly more flexibility to personalise your message and promote your company than the OTAs’ websites do. To establish trustworthiness, you might display your social media outlets and include reviews from other websites. To drive traffic, you can use Google and Facebook ads.
It includes your direct contact information so that guests can check availability before making a reservation. It’s also critical to have a booking engine so you can accept reservations 24 hours a day and avoid having to respond to every inquiry that comes in.
If You Book Directly, You’ll Get A Discount
Offering lower rates compared to the big OTAs is the best strategy to acquire bookings on your website. Guests often trust the OTAs to care after them and are leery of booking directly with a hotel. Especially if the site isn’t as clean and elegant as the more well-known OTA services. A lower fee is frequently enough to persuade customers to book directly. Because companies like Airbnb and Booking.com charge 15% commission, a discount of 5% or 10% is a win-win for both the host and the guest.
Remarket To Previous Visitors
After a guest has been and had a good time, they are far more inclined to book directly for their future visit. Even if it wasn’t a direct booking the first time. It’s critical to follow up with guests after they leave to make sure they have your contact information and website. Using mail chimp to keep prior guests informed about what’s going on is a terrific way to keep your property in their minds for their next vacation.
Content For Social Media And Calls To Action
When it comes to getting direct bookings, social media is a fantastic tool. Having social media profiles for your business is undoubtedly important, and you can keep them updated with deals, images, and other relevant stuff. You may develop your following by holding competitions and collaborating with influencers, and you can create a genuine community of individuals who will promote you or tag you in posts. You may use hashtags to get your content to show up in searches for relevant topics to your area or specialisation on platforms like Instagram. When you have your website complete, you can easily share a link on discussion forums or travel sites.
Convert OTA Reservations To Direct Bookings.
This one is a bit of a toss-up. Converting bookings from OTAs like booking.com and others is a little naughty, and the booking sites obviously do everything they can to prevent it. They mask guests’ email addresses so that all emails are routed through their portal, making it difficult to interact privately. Because they don’t want to be left out of the process, Airbnb and TripAdvisor make it incredibly difficult to share contact information via their messaging apps. It’s entirely up to you whether or not you choose to use this technique.
While direct reservations are the holy grail of serviced accommodation, the sheer power of the main OTAs in generating bookings to your property should not be overlooked. They are marketing behemoths, and there will always be room for them. Without a strong brand and good mechanisms in place for marketing your property yourself, it might be difficult to wrest control away from them. If you run Google advertisements, for example, they will outbid you on our own property/company name in order to appear higher in Google search results!
Central Belfast Apartments has developed a strong brand and a user-friendly website that visitors can rely on. For the term “serviced flats Belfast,” our website ranks first on Google’s first page. We display our TripAdvisor reviews on our website and brag about the prizes and accolades we receive.
We routinely provide content in the form of blogs and films to demonstrate our beliefs and what we’re all about. This content is shared online, which improves our SEO and expands our reach, resulting in additional inquiries.
Our social media presence is ever-expanding. Our Facebook page has over 5.5k likes, and we have over 3k Instagram followers. We’re even breaking out into TikTok and YouTube! Many firms and huge corporations contact us directly because of our ties and contacts. We presently receive roughly 50% of our bookings directly, and our goal for this year is to expand that to 80%.
Do you have a fantastic property that isn’t visible outside of the OTAs? If you have your property managed by Central Belfast Apartments, you will have immediate access to all of our brand awareness and contacts. You’ll save time and money on OTA commissions.