Online Travel Agents or OTAs can help augment a hotel’s presence online by showing it among other choices in the OTA’s search bar. Nevertheless, with competition evident even in the OTA’s search results, hoteliers want people to book with them directly. What is the right balance for their hotel, vis-a-vis OTA, and direct bookings? If a hotel wants to boost the number of people who book with it upfront, they can plan and implement a “book direct campaign,” where visitors to the hotel’s website are encouraged to book directly with the hotelier instead of through an OTA website. A persuasion campaign may require time, resources, and tactics to sure it meets the hotel’s objectives, but if executed well, the benefits of “book direct” campaigns to hotels are substantial.
Benefits of “Book direct”
The biggest benefit of having guests book directly with the hotelier is the elimination of competition. People will no longer approach an OTA to find a hotel for the best price. They will simply type the URL of the hotel’s website straight into the address bar of their browser.
Book direct campaigns also involve researching your target market’s demographics. In the process, you’ll learn their preferences, which in turn can be used to augment the products and services your hotel offers to provide your guests with a better experience overall.
Since book direct campaigns are mainly a matter of fostering loyalty and positive word of mouth, another benefit of such campaigns is that it creates a base of reliable patrons. Having a solid core of customers means you won’t have to depend on peak seasons for someone to book with your hotel. Your most loyal guests will decide to book directly with you anytime they happen to be in the area where your hotel is located.
Fostering brand loyalty: the essence of book direct campaigns
What is it that makes guests flock to a hotel? Quality of customer service, accommodations, perks, and above all, affordability—things which are abstract online. Hence, book direct campaigns have an offline component as well, by actually delivering the hospitality standards guests expect from those in the business. Only through excellent service can you generate positive word of mouth marketing, both online and offline.
Tips when launching a book direct campaign
Excellent service begins before a guest arrives at your hotel, which is why you should focus on your hotel website. Prospective guests should find it easy to book with you, and adding a display booking button in a prominent but strategic corner of your website will help with that. Your website should load fast and provide all the relevant information they need, such as the number of available rooms in your hotel, promos, and rates. The steps they have to take in order to book a room at your hotel must be clear to them when they decide to finalize their travel arrangements. By making sure your guests will have a good experience with your hotel even before they set foot in your premises, your hotel can already make an indelible mark in their heads and hearts.
You can set up autoresponders or artificial intelligence (AI) powered chatbots that can handle your guests’ most basic queries. Your human customer support staff can then deal with more complex questions. In the process, you will be able to streamline your customer service and improve your guests’ user experience (UX) at the same time.
You can also use email marketing as part of your book direct campaign. Send your subscribers something of value via email, such as information on discounts and promos. Divide your subscribers into segments and send content that is relevant to their concerns, so that you will be able to increase their interest in your hotel, not to mention sustain it as well.
Once you segment your audiences into groups who have similar reasons for booking, research your hotel’s most relevant target group. If you are a hotel in Phuket, Thailand, for example, the most pertinent target group would be tourists and expats looking to unwind on a beach in Phuket. Craft content that appeals to travelers’ emotions or meets their informational needs. You can do this by posting about hotel security, accommodation tips, things to do in Phuket, and other topics.≪ Back to Blog