Top 3 Challenges to Increasing Direct Bookings


Top 3 Challenges to Increasing Direct Bookings 

We look at the toughest challenges you face, but more importantly, how to deal with them 


When you were just starting out, a booking was a booking – you didn’t care where it came from. But as your accommodation business grows, you realize that while third party bookings are valuable, they are also expensive!

As a small accommodation provider, how can you increase your share of direct online bookings versus your other paid channels?

Having that balanced split between your booking channels is a healthy part of running a bed and breakfast, small hotel, inn or guesthouse.

Here we discuss the biggest challenges to increasing your share of direct online bookings, and what you can do today to start tipping the scales in your favour.

  1. Third party sites are increasing their market share

Online travel agencies (OTAs) are investing a ton of money into capturing guests, and it’s paying off.

In fact,

Many independent hotels will see a 10:90 split in favour of OTAs within the next 3 years (HeBS Digital)

In Europe, almost 50% of all hotel bookings come from online channels, with the dominant OTAs (Priceline, Expedia, and HRS) owning 90% of the online travel space in that region (eRevMax)

45% of European travellers use metasearch sites to compare rates, and 43% read reviews before making a booking decision (eRevMax)

And now, metasearch sites are following suit – posing a greater challenge for small accommodation providers.

TripAdvisor, Google, and now Trivago are beginning to offer direct bookings through their website. The ‘stickier’ these websites are, the more travelers will choose to use them over your small hotel website.

What can you do about it?

Start to invest in your own website, because it is imperative that you work on improving your online booking process. The ease of booking directly with you needs to match if not be smoother than booking with OTAs.

Make sure it’s easy to understand what rooms are available and at what rate (don’t overwhelm with too many choices), and that it looks and feels secure to make a booking with you.

  1. You probably don’t have a clear strategy to improve direct bookings

Small accommodation providers are pressed for time as it is – you’re busy trying to get everything done as opposed to thinking about how you can do more for your distribution strategy.

There’s simply not enough time or resources to think of ways to improve, so you don’t formalize the effort to increase direct bookings.

What can you do about it?

Create a clear-cut strategy to get more direct bookings. Some quick things you can do:

Have a web page on your site dedicated to explaining why guests should book direct.

Create a promotion for past guests incentivising them to book direct next time (entice them with a discount).

Match any lower rate for the hotel found elsewhere.

  1. You probably haven’t invested in the technology needed to help

How do you foster guest loyalty? How do you gain their trust so that they consistently recommend your hotel to friends, family, and even strangers through online reviews?

Besides offering superior customer service, you need a tool in place to help you bring those guests back!

After all, it will be difficult to keep in touch with each guest and provide a consistent experience, without some way of automating your communications.

What can you do about it?

Make sure you can store your guests’ data

Guests expect to be personally remembered, especially after booking a stay at a bed and breakfast. That’s why storing your guests’ data in multiple spreadsheets is not a good long term strategy if you want to foster loyalty. You need to be able to search your database and access their information instantly, when you need it.

Your hotel booking engine should be cloud-based and have a customer database built into it, giving you immediate access to all the guest information you need. That way, when a repeat guest gives you a call to make a booking, you can easily search for them on your database and reserve their favourite room.

Keep in touch before and after

Part of the guest experience is how you engage with them before and after their stay. Typically this is done via email.

For example, you can send them a booking confirmation, a reminder before their stay, some tips for what they can do during their stay, and a feedback request following their stay.

Modern hotel booking engines let you schedule and personalise these emails, applying your brand’s colours to each template, and making sure each recipient gets a personal greeting. Each guest receives a consistent experience – whether it’s online or in person – from start to finish.

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About Oliver Mizen 333 Articles
Oliver is web editor, social media poster, search engine optimiser.