It’s quite clear with the development of websites such as booking.com, Expedia and Hotels Combined; it can become quite difficult to get direct bookings. This is a guide to ensure that you improve the amount of direct bookings on your website so you can keep your margins!
This can be done with three simple but powerful steps:
- Competitive pricing
- Secondary offers
- Better booking experience
This one is really straight forward. If booking.com is offering your hotel at $99 and you are charging $140, why would someone book with you and not them?
However, there is a strong sense of security and comfort that comes from booking directly because there is no middle man between the customer and hotel. At what point does this security pull into the favour of direct bookings? When the price is equal to or lower than the booking websites, customers will generally opt to book direct to save the hassle.
Hotels Combined has made it quite easy to price match and find the lowest price, lowering those barriers to research means it’s imperative now more than ever to offer a competitive price.
The pricing doesn’t even have to be significantly lower, it just has to be less than or equal to the booking site, that’s all. You can see Hotel Realm, cutting it close with a $0.15 discount by booking directly but they apply the principle perfectly.
Another powerful strategy that hotels are adopting is offering free add-ons for direct booking. Free WIFI, complementary breakfasts, parking and other freebies always work their charm on a customer. Providing this exclusively through direct booking creates a prominent impact on customer behaviour.
See the Ovolo Hotels, where they offer ‘freebies’ for direct bookings and really capitalise on this strategy:
A Better Experience During Direct Bookings
Finally and most importantly, make sure your booking experience is up to scratch. If your website is not optimised and really difficult to use, how can you expect every day people to easily book from you. All the leading booking sites are very user friendly and almost anyone can book on them. This is your aim.
Some ways you can ensure you have the optimal booking experience are as follows:
- Important buttons are prominent; “Book Now” should really stand out from the other options. It should also be clear to on how to progress through the booking process.
- Rates and availability need to be extremely clear and visible to people. You need to be transparent with this information. All the booking websites have easy ways of checking this; which means you need to match this.
- Mobile responsive design: It is now absolutely imperative to have a mobile responsive design. 52% of hotel bookings occur over a mobile device so not having a responsive site is as good as losing half of your sales. This isn’t an acceptable number especially when the cost of making a mobile responsive website is reducing rapidly.
- Website User Interface: Now there are many tools to work out how effective and useful parts of your website are. Many of the successful hotel chains have amazing websites that really add to the brand equity and image of the hotel and really do convert into leads.
You can use HotJar to work out deeper analysis into the website usage and the user experience. Keep your website optimised and up to date to see the best results.
These are some really basic points but it’s easy to do them wrong. It’s best to look at other successful websites to see how they do it. As stated above, the Ovolo Hotels website is definitely one to check out. It has an absolute stunning user interface, simplifies the booking process and has mastered the previous two points.
These are some examples of amazing hotel websites from our friends and how they optimise bookings:
Their booking portal is extremely easy to navigate, only a few options to pick from and they easy to select. The booking button is also very prominent being in pink, it stands out amongst the numerous options. In general, the design is clean and elegant which we’re big fans of!
Once again, though they have many options, it is evident for each type of customer (hotel, restaurant, and event) where to book and they have limited options to pick from. Clean, simple designs go a long way in a hotel market.
There you go! 3 really simple but powerful tools to transform how you can convert more leads to direct booking compared to using the booking sites which will definitely boost your margins and direct booking sales.