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  • Writer's pictureMichael Fox

Increase profitability With Direct Online Booking.

Updated: Aug 18

How To Increase Profitability

Now is the time to take complete control of your business with direct guest bookings off your company website. It presents holiday outlet owners with impressive benefits, it provides the platform and opportunity to take complete control over every aspect of seasonal or long term rentals.

Nex Design Agency website with Direct Guest Booking Installed
Wix hotels online direct guest booking app

With direct guest booking hospitality owners can easily create and manage their very own booking channel, giving owners control over everything, from marketing, pricing, cancellation policies, guest management and the all important customer database and increased profitability.

The Current Status

With most of the dominant listed OTA's (Online Travel Agents) shifting to a commission based, online booking only model, holiday rental owners selling their rooms online may be concerned about lower occupancy, profits, lack of control, limited guest information and poor communication with guests.

Although listing your hotel with OTA's provides excellent exposure for your rental, ( your outlet is only one of thousands being promoted) by encouraging guests to cut out the middleman and book with you directly means potential customers can get a better deal, it places you in front of the client, and you get to keep the full payment with no commission, booking fees or subscription charges being deducted.

The question is how do you get holidaymakers to book with you directly considering the huge marketing budgets and aggressive marketing campaigns used by OTA's booking sites? It’s not impossible, as proven by Premier Inn who reported that in 2021 89% of their bookings where direct.

Whether a single property owner or a manager of several properties, here we outline several simple strategies that you can implement to encourage guests to book with you direct., so take a look and don't get left behind, here's guidance on how to sell your rooms direct off your website!

Hotel Websites Need a Strong Online Presence

Karin and Vasileios Melas New Website for 2023
Bellos Studios Tolo, Greece Operate their own Wix Hotels Direct Online Booking Channel

The reason why OTA's enjoy such a high profile online presence is the fact that they pay for their prominent position to the search engine companies like Google. This may seem unfair to the small hospitality business owner however they also have the opportunity to feature high in search results. Let's look at some of the actions hoteliers can take to, not only improve ranking results but also initiate the direct online guest booking process.

  1. Create a brand strategy that works both on and offline.

  2. Build a website that's easy to use & performs.

  3. Operate your own online guest booking channel.

  4. Drive traffic through search engines like Google and Bing

  5. Establish a direct channel of communication with existing and new customers.

  6. Develop a social media strategy.

  7. Create an SEO plan.

Ella Hotel beautifully displayed on mobile
Wix Hotels booking app available for all media device

Operate & Manage Your Own Direct Online Booking Channel

Have you ever considered the benefits of operating your own booking channel, the cost savings it generates and the immediate increase on the bottom line? Why not be bold and give it a try!

For example Wix offer owners the opportunity to add a direct booking engine and channel manager to thier websites that diversify audiences reach and increases chances of new bookings, you can also add your property to as many listing sites (OTA's) as you want. The channel manager allows connectivety access to over 400 booking channels worldwide and provides booking managers the ability to automatically update rates, availability and bookings across many booking channels simultaneously (such as Airbnb, HomeAway or, all from a single platform.

Initially it's important that you take your time and monitor the booking results then gradually adjust the balance between listing sites (OTA's) and your direct booking system!

The OTA giants are not going away any time soon, fair to say that they must be acknowledged for the services they provide the holiday booker and should not be ignored but worked with in co-operation.

Online booking software like Wix hotels integrates the OTA's within the channel management systems, therefore complimenting both methods of guest booking.

Hoteliers also have an army of weapons that OTA's can't access: the possibility to offer gifts or discounts on services for a particular stay (airport transfer, meals, spa, late-check out, etc.) or offers on local attractions are endless… These small gestures towards satisfying customers combined with a more digitized interactive website and its design are non-negligible arguments to improve direct guest booking and increased profitability.

Establish a direct communication channel

Subscribers joining facility displayed on website
Establish a direct line of guest communication

Research shows that the cost of acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5 to 20 times more expensive than retaining an existing one (repeaters). Email marketing is one of the most productive and cost-effective ways to grow your business.

Four out of five marketers said they’d rather give up social media than email marketing, according to a report by Litmus. That’s because email marketing is a business’s best tool.

Content marketing is the way to go with your e-mail campaigns. Content marketing is a type of marketing strategy that involves creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and engaging content in order to attract a targeted audience and encourage them to book.

As the customer mindset has changed over the years, marketing strategies have also evolved. With the internet at our fingertips, people have become better informed about the quality and value of the things they spend their money on. They’ve also become more demanding; they want their issues resolved fast, and they want the right products to do it.

Many customers see straight through pushy sales pitches and disruptive online ads, but they can be persuaded with informative and genuinely helpful content. That’s where content marketing comes in. Good content - such as blog posts, informational videos, new developments, special offers and more - are used to nurture buyers into making a booking, gently guiding them toward the right solution for their needs.

How to achieve a more user friendly approach.

To encourage potential visitors to book with you and to drive direct hotel bookings, you need to optimize your website for a seamless user experience. Here are some of the ways to drive bookings directly through your very own website and save on OTA commissions:

The key element to direct online booking is the hotel website, therefore owners should develop a marketing and design strategy and update the website with high-resolution images, correct information (location, contact, amenities), and best prices/deals on the website. In short, the approach should be out and out an holistic approach.

Make direct online booking easy.

Illustrating the direct online booking system in a modern web design
Book smart. book direct via the Wix Hotels app

Making things simple and secure is the key to success in the hospitality industry. Considering the fast-paced world that we live in today, everybody is looking for ways to save more time and find the best deals. Keeping that simple, day-to-day fact in mind, use it proactively concerning your hotel direct booking strategies.

To back this up, get your Website to display a prominent ‘Book Now’ or ‘Booking Box’ feature which allows the customers to begin the online direct booking process right away! In short, bring in more CTA's (call-to-action) to highlight the overall grandeur of the website and the simplicity of the booking process. A true and honest direct booking system retains the potential booker on your website, it does not transfer the booker to a third party booking agent who will charge a booking fee.

Drive Traffic To Your Site Through Search Engines.

Designer working on SEO improvements
Strong Title Tags Get Noticed by Search Engines

Although a well designed user friendly stunning website may be the answer to online booking results its the SEO (search engine optimization) that creates the visibilty you need for holiday bookers to find you.

SEO is your number one priority to showcase that beautiful well designed user friendly website to create hi visibility online for selling your hotel rooms into the equation for selling more rooms through your direct online booking engine.

To achieve hi ranking on the Internet with search engines platforms like Google, Bing etc, you must develop an SEO plan that will enable your website to perform as a spectacular and attractive option for holiday bookers and to compete against the big OTA players.

This is because a high rank listing is instrumental in driving more traffic to your website which is very likely to culminate into a greater number of bookings. This is an absolute plus for your hotel booking strategy. Again, SEO also provides other services like optimization through keywords, details about your competitors listing, where you rank against them in search results and relevant links to reap maximum benefits!

The big attraction for search engines is your page title tag and description, its the first piece of information search bots source, therefore a strong title tag is essential.

What is a title tag? A title tag is technically a piece of HTML code used to tell search engines what’s the ‘name’ of your page Because it’s the first thing that they see, the title tag is a very strong signal for search bots to understand what the page is all about. The title tag is part of the metadata, along with the meta description of the page. Both elements are invisible to visitors when visiting your website. However, they will show up on search engine results pages (SERP): the blue line is the meta title or title, and the short blurb of black text is the meta description.

Describing the meaning of Google tabs
Google Search Criteria Explained

Manage and promote your website on mobile.

Tech Savy Customers Book Holidays Via Mobile DevicesTech Savy Customers Book Holidays Via Mobile Devices
Mobile Device Holiday Booking

Data from Criteo’s Summer Travel Report notes that worldwide, OTA's capture most of the mobile bookings. In terms of last-minute bookings, the report revealed that the hotels received just over 70% of last-minute bookings via mobile devices.

An impressive mobile website is what the visitors would come across while locating your property on Google Search. A website should be so crafted and optimized that it tells a unique story. So use it as a medium to highlight your strengths. Opt for a user-friendly hotel website that is responsive even to smart devices. Also, get your website to focus on the amenities offered and the location. Remember, your website can also help leverage digital marketing for your property and business. Hence make it as informative as possible with what’s going on or what’s happening in and around, restaurant recommendations, places of sightseeing nearby, and so on.

What are the benefits of direct online room bookings?

Guest booking a holiday direct
Book Direct and Receive the Best Deals

What are the benefits to customers booking direct online?

A. Clients receive the best room rates:

  • Firstly, you’ll want to offer the best rate by booking direct. If holidaymakers can get it cheaper elsewhere they are unlikely to make a direct booking. Explain that guests don’t have to pay a listing site booking fee when booking direct. Which means your direct price can save guests £100’s compared to booking on a listing site.

B. Guest Benefits

  • Offer guests additional benefits that are only available when booking direct. This could be a discount, gifts upon arrival, shopping delivery, discounts at local businesses, a late check-out, free wifi and local calls, airport pickup & drop off etc. A small gesture can make a big difference.

C. Deal Direct with the Owner

  • Unlike listing sites and OTAs which usually restrict communication, when guests book direct they can speak directly with the owner/manager. Human interaction means guests questions can be answered by someone who really knows the property and area. Having this contact builds trust and reassures guests that yours is the rental to book.

D. Secure & Safe Transactions

  • It’s more secure. Given the rise in online scams that have seen many victims fall foul to bogus holiday rentals, travellers are wary when booking. Many listing sites hide the details of the owner so it’s impossible to do any research on them. When guests know who they are booking with they can do their own research, read reviews, and book securely online. It also keeps the client on the hoteliers website to do the booking transaction.

What are the benefits to hoteliers selling rooms direct?

Guests being welcomed by friendly smiling staff
Happy Guests Make Happy Holidays

A. Save on OTA Commissions:

  • When guests book a hotel room through an OTA, hotels owners have to pay some hefty commissions from 10% to 25% for every booking. But in the case of direct bookings you keep all revenus generated.

B. Improved cash flows:

  • Because your guests book direct with you and not through an OTA (third party) room deposits are received into your bank account, residual payments are also placed in your bank account when due. The result is no more waiting for payments from OTA's or allowing credit periods. Direct online bookings place you in control of your business.

C. Guest Database:

  • Guests booking direct means you gather valuable information about your guests not the OTA's, name, e-mail ect, this data can be used to build your own customer database to keep your guests informed with e-mail campaigns about new developments and repeat business, special offers, events, seasonal deals etc.

D. Cancellations and or Date Change Control:

  • Sometimes guests might have to either postpone or cancel your reservation for some reason. Booking directly with the hotel owners can easily manage the situation via the channel manager which provides great flexibility and for genuine reasons, they can even wave off cancellation fees. Your guest will enjoy piece of mind knowing you have their interest at heart.

E. Personalized Guest Services for Repeat Booking:

  • Direct online bookings are a real bonus for forward thinking hotel owners it opens up the opportunity to win over their guests with even more inducements or special privileges in recognition if guests book directly. The marketing opportunities are endless, why not consider early bird discounts, or perks like fast check-in, free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, free lounge access, late check-out, vouchers for organised trips, loyalty points for future trips, free hotel transfers, etc.

F. Direct Online Booking Benefits:

  • One of the biggest benefits booking direct contributes is the turn around of who controls your business. When direct bookings gather momentum control of the business returns to the hotel owner away from the OTA's as previous. Hotel owners can look forward to controling the very fabric of the business, its marketing, development and future.

The Decision to adopt online direct guest booking of course is yours!

The above facts offer a compelling argument for the hotelier owners to adopt change, however changing a business model is never easy but consider this as business owners around the world figure out what the business landscape could look like post pandemic, energy crisis and inflationary factors, one thing is certain: many old habits/processes will have to change, in some cases, permanently.

Small businesses (SME's) are facing some of their biggest challenges in recent times, many will have to learn how to re-engage with their customers and adapt to new demands in the marketplace.

Owning a website with a strong online presence and your own booking channel is a must for hoteliers in 2023. Your website has to perform, promote your business and produce results, the room booking waiting game with its attendant hi OTS's booking fees is a relic of ast practices, be smart and take control over your hotels business activity.

Remember a website is your number one salesperson working tirelesly 24/7, its the first point of contact for your business to any potential customer on the Internet, therefore it demands serious attention to ensure it promotes professionally all your services, marketing efforts and campaigns.

Web design has undergone a massive change over the past few years and now relates to market demands subsiquently the next-generation website is designed to drive room sales, traffic and be optimized for modern hoteliers to increase occupancy rates, revenue and profit.

Don't get left behind, optimize, secure your businesses future, develop customer relationships, build a strong online presence and move into the new world of no fees Direct Online Guest Booking,




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