How to Increase Direct Bookings?

Patricia PetrinjakTourism Marketing
8 min read

According to the latest European Travel Commission report, 32% of surveyed passengers intend to travel between April and June this year, an increase of 20% compared to the last quarter of 2020. Likewise, 52% of respondents plan to travel in the next six months.

Online travel agencies face changes in business and understanding of their position, and according to Rentlio Trend Tracker, travel is in recovery.

Given the circumstances, the timing couldn’t be better to commit to direct bookings and offer your guests the possibility of direct bookings.

Don’t Write Off the Power of Online Travel Agencies

No one likes to hear the word commission, yet OTA channels can help you with your direct reservations significantly.

Every guest who joins you after booking via the OTA channel allows you to “convert” them.

Namely, it is unlikely that any OTA channel will affect the hospitality you can provide to that guest while providing more detailed information about the benefits of direct booking. Therefore, be sure to define additional services that will convince the guest of the direct booking value.

However, if your OTA listing is carefully filled in and regularly updated with relevant information, the potential guest will, after review, request additional information – and look for your website.

OTA channels are easy to use and adaptable for display on different types of devices.

So make sure your website is just as simple, eye-pleasing, and customizable to display on different devices.

Potential guests will visit your site, searching for photos and additional information to confirm whether your accommodation suits their preferences. Other contents, activities in the area, cultural and historical attractions, or unique events are the type of content that will further intrigue the guest and keep him on your site.

This additional content and presentation of your accommodation’s immediate surroundings is something that a guest cannot easily find on your OTA listing. Take advantage of that.

In addition to added value, flexibility in the form of free change of dates, free cancellations, and refunds of advance payments are essential factors by which you can obtain direct bookings. Equally, the website is a great place to share satisfied guests’ experiences and invite potential guests to further communicate via social networks.

Your website should be:

  • visually attractive and easy to navigate;
  • search optimized;
  • filled with relevant information and content;
  • available in several languages;
  • equipped with virtual tours and/or quality photos of your accommodation units;
  • guarantee the best price;
  • mobile-friendly;
  • fast.
Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash

Photos, information or optimization, will not be enough without a “call to action” (CTA) to offer your potential guests to make a reservation or additional interesting content. By integrating the booking engine on your website, you will facilitate the call to action. The guests will achieve a simplified booking process by having direct access to prices and availability.

Rentlio Booking Engine, in addition to being easily connected to your website, synchronized with the calendar and other sales channels fully, prevents overbooking and facilitates the direct booking process. You can see how to easily link Rentlio Booking Engine to your site here.

Let’s not forget about health and safety measures which remain a top priority when traveling.

By emphasizing the measures you are undertaking and the protocols you follow already, the potential guest will feel safe even before stepping into your accommodation.

Finally, analyze.

You can use the actions that potential guests take when visiting your web to improve the user experience, provide more accurate information, or better discounts. By personalizing your website’s content and capabilities, you will make more direct reservations that you aspire.

Common reasons why a guest does not decide to make a reservation are related to the price, cluttered booking process, or technical difficulties. In addition to the results of the analysis of visits on your page, you will have data related to improving the realization of direct bookings.

It Turns Back to Communication

Although COVID – 19 left many hospitality professionals without a word, it is still not the best strategy, especially if you try to focus guests more on yourself and less on OTA channels.

In the circumstances of a pandemic, more communication and information is required.

Guests want to hear how you cope with the challenges, how you will improve your offer to continue to ensure a carefree and safe vacation. Guests want to find the most essential and up-to-date information on how to reach you, what restrictions they might encounter along the way and what is permitted for them to do at the place of stay.

And that’s what gives you a mileage advantage over the OTA channels.

No one will pass on relevant information to your guest with more integrity. Turn these terms to your advantage to build a relationship with a guest who will not hesitate to recommend or visit you based on that particular experience. Questions of an informative nature are standard in communication with guests, and to this will be added questions about the health and safety measures you take to secure your accommodation. You can do this by creating email templates with answers to frequently asked questions within Rentlio.

Moreover, you can further remind guests of the measures when crossing the border just before the trip.

In Reviews We Trust

Rarely will anyone book accommodation without checking the reviews and ratings given to you by former guests.

The experiences of previous guests will encourage potential guests to book your accommodation.

Not on Social Media? You Almost don’t Exist.

If anyone doubted the relevance of social media – according to the recent data more than 180 million users started using a social network only between July and September 2020 – which means almost 2 million new users a day.

Most future guests use social networks for inspiration, travel plans, choice of accommodation, and destination inspiration. A simple step to make yourself available to potential guests is to connect your Facebook profile with the booking engine. You can do this using the Rentlio Booking Engine described here, and you can do the same with your Google My Business listing.

Furthermore, be active.

Respond regularly to inquiries and comments, update information and create content – photos, videos, or share news relevant to guests. Be present because most of your potential guests are at home with an internet connection, dreaming of a time when various restrictions will ease. Specifically, according to the previously mentioned ETT survey, travel within Europe is the top choice for 40% of respondents, who are more inclined to travel to another country than to stay within their borders.

Likewise, user-generated content is an invaluable part of what comes with active social media profiles. The content created by your guests is the best form of promotion and will certainly reflect in the number of direct reservations.

Photo by Tron Le on Unsplash

Make Them an Offer They Can’t Refuse

It all comes down to value for money.

Emphasize the benefits of direct booking – straightforwardly. A bottle of wine? Breakfast? Discount? Emphasize this right away on your website.

Some of the ways you can make more direct bookings concerning the value for money:

Loyalty programs

The programs designed this way allow you different ways to reward guests, whether for repeated stays, more extended stays, or a specific booking channel.

The goal is to stay in touch with the guests who have stayed with you before and create a long-term relationship.

Price comparisons

Emphasize your, preferably the best price, while allowing guests to compare prices on the OTA channels you use without leaving your website.

Special offers and promo codes

Your website – your rules.

Special offers at the start will give you an advantage, and guests will be happy to bypass OTA channels and look for you directly.

Within the settings of Rentlio Booking Engine, you will find the possibility of creating promotional codes, a convenient way to attract guests to book directly.

COVID – 19

Most properties already provide the necessary information about the processes they are undertaking in a pandemic framework. Make this information as visible as possible to guests looking for you directly.

However, you can adjust the price, master all the concepts and use SEO skills, offer a handful of special offers, and it won’t be enough. Nothing will be enough if you do not provide the guest with a valuable experience that they will want to return to and recommend to others.

If you know additional strategies that can help make more direct reservations, let us know in the comments – we will be happy to comment on them with you.

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Although she would love to read all day, Patricia enjoys writing for Rentlio. Constantly trying to adapt to the Dalmatian way of life, you can find her walking her two dogs and/or reading on most evenings 📚