Love or hate them, online travel agents (OTAs) like Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, or Agoda are important hotel distribution channels. 41% of travelers book their accommodation through online travel agents (OTAs), and 29% prefer direct bookings. While it may not be a viable solution to cut off all bookings through OTAs, you can step up your game to improve your hotel’s digital presence and push customers to book directly through your hotel app.
Why are direct bookings more profitable for hotels?
- OTAs charge a high commission from hotel owners on each sale, which can be as high as 30%. This can lower your total revenue, as compared to direct bookings.
- When the guest books their stay directly through your website or app, you can promote room upgrades, or upsell in-room services and other amenities.
- When there is no third party in the middle, you can establish a close relationship with the guest and offer them a personalized experience.
Before proceeding with a booking, 50% of OTA users visit the hotel’s official website. This is your opportunity to grab the guest’s attention and draw them in with a lucrative offer.
Offer a seamless experience
OTAs offer mobile apps and websites that are easy to navigate. As a hotelier, you have to emulate the same experience in your hotel app or website—make sure it’s mobile-friendly, has attractive visuals, is convenient to use, and contains enough CTAs to drive conversions. Apps might offer better customer engagement than websites, as they offer more room for personalization and increase conversion with push notifications.
With a dedicated guest app, your guest can book their stay with a few clicks, enjoy contactless check-in and check-out, choose their desired upgrades, communicate with the hotel staff without picking up the phone, and have greater control over their room amenities.
Offer incentives on direct bookings
When you’re trying to promote direct bookings, you have to make sure the guests see value in it, and that they have more incentives than booking through an OTA. While OTAs charge a high commission from hotels, with the MyCONECT Guest app you’ll pay only $1 per booking, leaving you with a higher margin. You could also reduce your operational costs using the latest hotel tech, so you can have greater flexibility in terms of setting room prices. Offer special discounts, add-ons, subscription plans, and rewards to make your deal more appealing.
AI chatbots to simplify communication
While booking a hotel, a guest can have multiple questions in mind. OTAs in most cases have instant chat options or customer service agents to clear any doubts the guest might have. When you want to boost direct bookings, use AI chatbots to enhance the customer support experience with swift and efficient responses. 62% of all consumers prefer to use chatbots instead of talking to a human agent, so this could be a smart way to offer a hassle-free mode of communication from the very beginning and answer all possible queries.
Publish testimonials to establish trust
The trust factor is a huge deal when it comes to booking accommodation online—93% of people prefer to check online reviews before booking their stay. The guest wants social proof of your hotel, its rooms, services, food, amenities, and the total experience you're promising. This is one of the reasons why customers book through OTAs—the platforms offer detailed user reviews. Publishing testimonials from your previous guests could be a great way to win the trust of potential customers and increase conversions. Request your guests to leave a review, and offer them loyalty points or any other incentives in return.
The bottom line
Direct website bookings are not popular because hotels fail to offer the seamless experience that OTAs offer. When you address this gap, it can open up ways to drive higher revenue with direct bookings and help establish long-term relationships with guests.
If you are a hotel looking to save up on the OTA costs, let us help you build a digital ecosystem without the cost of developing and maintaining a fully-integrated functional application.
Book a call with us to learn how we can help you streamline all your hotel operations digitally while you can focus on guest service.