tactics to drive direct booking

Revenue Gains with a Positive Booking Experience

The average consumer has more purchasing intelligence available to them than ever before. You’ve probably heard this approximately 856 times in the last six months. And while the statement is true, it is just vague enough to not have any real impact. According to an Expedia report, consumers visit 38 sites before booking. That kind of endurance takes dedication. Dedication to maximizing their experience and their budget. With the right marketing, you can influence potential guests to book directly with your hotel.

Improving the booking experience

Your hotel website – This is your hotel’s face to the entire world so think about it in those terms. Is it easy to navigate? Does it accommodate language translation? Do you offer full descriptions and images of all room types? Do you offer information about your location, like history, nearby activities and events? Have you included positive guest feedback and FAQs? Do you run promotions on your site? Is it mobile friendly?

Once these user experience elements are solid, establish a clear direct booking path on the front page of your website.

Booking engine – Your booking engine should be intuitive, visually aligned with your website, and mobile friendly. Offer multiple languages and currency conversion, full descriptions and images for all room types, transparent policies, and a confirmation email. The confirmation email is a huge opportunity. It should be branded, offer contact info for guest questions, a way to sign up for hotel promotions as well as links to social media and maps.

Guest email capture and communication – OTA reservations may exclude guest information but that shouldn’t deter you from capturing their contact info at check-in or check-out, through a guest registration card or guestbook, or as a requirement to log-in to wi-fi. Do use this information responsibly. No one enjoys being spammed, including potential repeat guests.

Loyalty programs – The obvious benefits are to reward your guests and build return customers. You may have also read recently that hotels are using loyalty programs to offer lower direct booking rates without violating the terms of their OTA contracts.

Social media – Social channels are great for both paid promotions and reminders to book direct with your hotel. Facebook is the top channel for travel research and it is most popular among baby boomers and women. Twitter is more popular with men, urbanites, people under 50 years of age, and people earning over $50k annually. It’s no surprise that Instagram is most popular with millennials and women. Social stats via Pew Research. It’s important to tailor your message to your target demographic to drive the best engagement.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – With Google dominating the market with over 60{97f5de9008dbce478b9914384118bb17bc275beb18053f10d4c63e347dc71139} of web traffic, let’s review their advertising product Google AdWords. SEM, also known as PPC or pay-per-click advertising, allows brands to bid on keywords which, when searched, will display a link to their website in prominent areas of the Google search window. You may find that many high-traffic keywords are dominated by OTAs and larger chains. Just as you tailor room rates to demand factors, you can also follow this same process for your target keyword list. For example, try a campaign that attracts those seeking hotels near a major sporting event, concert venue, or conference happening near your hotel. Long-tail keywords are another option. They take advantage of people’s tendency to use voice search. While these keywords are typically longer, they are much less saturated and easier to bid on.

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Chief Commercial Officer

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