, How to Influence Potential Customers to Book Direct, Odysys

July 20, 2015

How to Influence Potential Customers to Book Direct

Are you tired of relying on Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)? Are you looking to reduce your guest acquisition costs? Are you simply trying to help your hotel thrive?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have probably given considerable thought to how to generate direct hotel bookings. And you are not alone. With more than 76% (source) of online hotel reservations being generated by OTAs, pretty much every hotelier is looking for ways to cut costs.

So, let’s review a couple of key tactics to persuade your potential customers to book direct:

  1. Integration with Every Marketing Channel

This one is so simple yet often overlooked: Post your website address and phone number on every relevant website, meta-search, OTA, and social media profile possible!  Let’s take a look a quick look on TripAdvisor for a hotel in the beautiful city of Boulder, Colorado.

Within the first six results I caught two hotels that not only didn’t display their website but also didn’t display their phone number! The first image below is the Boulder Twin Lakes Inn; the second image is the St. Julian Hotel and Spa. Notice the area directly below the title and reviews that I have highlighted in pink:

TripAdvisor listing

tripadvisor listing st julien

Which one do you think is losing bookings and revenue to the OTAs?

  1. Mobile First, Mobile Focus

If you have read any articles on hotel marketing lately you have probably noticed three sensational themes:

  1. Airbnb is going to kill the hotel industry
  2. Millennials are going to kill the hotel industry
  3. Mobile is going to save the hotel industry.

I’m going to go out on a limb a predict that the hotel industry will survive Airbnb (in fact I think it will make it better), millennials will actually continue to want to stay in hotels, resorts, inns, and B&Bs (have you seen Rich Kids of Beverly Hills yet? Oh you have? I’m sorry.) and that mobile is very important but only works if done correctly.

Mobile is big and only getting bigger. Google reports that 78% of leisure travelers researched a trip on a mobile device in 2014. That’s a lot of potential customers. Most hoteliers focus on having a mobile-friendly website, and while that is important, mobile is so much more. Think booking engine, maps, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc. Mobile is a beast but it’s a power addition to your marketing mix.

If I was to make one recommendation other than having a mobile responsive website, it would be to have a mobile responsive booking engine. Make it easy for potential customers to book and more of them will. Think about what the best possible booking experience is, and then implement it. Would you rather select dates using a tiny little calendar that you can easily “fat finger”? Would you prefer room images that take forever to load because they are not optimized for mobile devices? I thought not and neither does your next potential customer.

I hope you implement these common-sense tactics. Do so and you will be on your way to reducing your reliance on OTAs, decreasing your guest acquisition costs, and ultimately helping your hotel thrive.

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