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Grab the Wheel: What Hoteliers Need to Do to Drive Direct Bookings

25 Jan 2020 183 views

In the year 2020 and beyond, data is the real wealth: getting it, owning it, analyzing it, and acting upon it. Too many of hoteliers receive the bulk of their bookings through online travel agents (OTAs) and intermediaries, essentially sharing their guests – and hotel reservation data – with someone else. Time to take back your data and revenue by driving more bookings through your hotel's own website.

Get mobile-friendly

Hope you're not tired of hearing it because we won't stop saying it: Mobile is the future. Bookings on mobile devices grew three to ten times faster in 2018 than in 2016. Some 82% of travel bookings were made via smartphone or tablet in the last year. The mobile traveler is also a more frequent one who spends more and travels internationally.

So help them out: Optimize your website for mobile. Increase your site speed, as 40% of website visitors will leave if loading takes more than three seconds. Create clear, big call-to-action buttons that lead directly to your hotel's online reservation system.

Even better, go the extra mile and create a custom app for your hotel. If 90% of the time spent on mobile devices is spent in apps, make your hotel one of those apps they use.

Encourage reviews

On average, consumers read seven reviews of a business before deciding to trust it. By celebrating positive reviews and other content generated by guests, like photos on and of the property, your hotel's good reputation becomes independently verified as a form of social proof.

Make it easy for your guests to give feedback on your site, too. In addition to "How's our driving" type confirmation popups after online interactions with Support or a booking, follow-up emails requesting a review after a guest visit, perhaps in exchange for entry into a giveaway or hotel perk – can go a long way. Install a direct link on your site to popular hotel and travel review sites and capitalize on the guest goodwill from their trip.

Incentivize loyalty

Bribe them. Yeah, we said it. Bribe guests to direct book through your site with extra rewards card points, discounts, free stuff – whatever it takes. Give guest referral incentives to rope in their friends and family. On their next visit, upgrade them, Beyonce'-style. Direct bookings through a hotel website are twice as likely to be repeat visitors as compared to booking through an OTA, so let's get them in the