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10 steps to improve your direct bookings

To be honest, I'm pretty tired of the every increasing articles complaining about the dominance of the online travel agents (OTAs), the drop in direct bookings, and increase in commission payments.  I have yet to see one such article provide recommendations for hotel accommodation owners on how they can change this.

There are several very vocal hotel chains who constantly voice their fear of the OTAs market dominance and yet they consistently do not offer customers a reason to book direct.

Here is a good example.

I recently travelled to Fiji for a friends wedding. Being a hotel sales and marketing person my first thought was, I'll book direct to help the hotel save on commission. As it turned out they didn't want to.

The steps I took

  • I checked prices on Agoda, Expedia and Booking (OTAs)
  • I read reviews on Tripadvisor and compared them on the OTAs
  • I visited the hotel direct website - only to find prices where higher
  • I joined their member club - to find that the prices where still higher
  • I emailed them to ask if they could do a better price direct than what I could find on the OTAs and specifically mention that I'd like to help them reduce their commissions - the response I received 'we cannot match offers on the online agents directly. We recommend you join our members clubs to receive other discounts and benefits'.

Needless to say I gave up on trying to help them same the 15-25% commission and booked my accommodation via an OTA.

So it's time to stop playing the blame game.

The OTAs are a distribution channel, you have a listing, it is a shop window.  They provide you with bookings and revenue you may not have received otherwise.  If you want more bookings direct, then you have to want them - and improve your shop window and reservation sales conversion techniques.


It's pretty simple really, here are 10 simple steps that can get you started

  1. Update your website (shop window).  It should be as simple and easy to use as your OTA listing
  2. Ensure your images, and information is better than via your distribution partners
  3. Make sure you can book within 2-3 clicks
  4. Clearly offer better rates direct - and ALWAYS price match
  5. Offer exclusive direct packages and upsell options
  6. Release promotions at least 2 weeks BEFORE releasing to the online travel agents - and email your customers to let them know
  7. Reward your customer for booking direct with free inclusions or value-adds that they do not, and will not, receive if they book via a travel agent.  Here are a few simple ideas - Free streaming speed wifi, free parking, free drink in the bar, discount vouchers for your restaurant, free upgrade
  8. Have an eye catching poster of your direct benefits at the hotel reception desk so everyone knows when they check in
  9. Communicate with your guest and build loyalty.  Thank them for staying, ask them to visit again, ask them to share with their family and friends if they cannot visit again themselves.
  10. Add new content to your website every week with upcoming events, ideas of things to do, places to eat and drink that you recommend in your location.

If will take commitment, discipline and consistent effort on your part - but what shop window doesn't.  If you'd like some help to get started on the road to improved sales, then please contact us here at 707 today.

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