Partnering with the OTAs can be a smart move for your independent property if you’re looking to reach new travelers, fill midweek bookings, or get some last-minute bookings instead of having empty rooms. While using OTAs can be good, it can also be costly in some cases and that’s why it’s important to have a book direct strategy in place!
With a book direct strategy in place, you’re still relying on the OTAs for what they do best but also reducing your commission costs by encouraging direct reservations. Below are some tactics and ideas for your book direct strategy:
Offer lower rates over the phone or in email
We know you can’t display lower rates on your website but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer a discount or lower rate over the phone or sharing a promo code in an email.
Have a price checker widget
Make it easy for guests to compare prices on your site and on the OTAs with a price checker widget.
Offer exclusive packages
Create unique packages and specials that are only bookable on your website.
Utilize pop-ups for promotions
Use pop-ups or exit intent technology to highlight a current package, promotion, or discount for booking direct.
Add chatbots to your site
Answer any guest’s questions as soon as they have them with a chatbot. Instead of hoping they’ll call or email about a policy or availability, a chatbot can help reassure a guest of their booking and guide them into the booking engine.
Use your email marketing campaigns
Share a discount or special offer with your past guests via your email marketing campaigns.
Highlight amenities included with booking direct
Remind people that if they book direct they’ll enjoy free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast, parking, or whatever amenity you offer. These may already be included in the rate but it doesn’t hurt to remind them of the amenities they’ll get directly from you.
Improve your ads
Update your Google AdWords or Bing Ads with a book direct campaign highlighting your best rate guarantee or exclusive amenities for those that book direct.
Share your special offers or soft sells on social media to encourage direct reservations. Anytime you’re sharing a promotional post, you should be linking to your own website.
Remind guests directly
At check-out or in your thank you email, remind guests that they always get the best rate and amenities by booking directly on your site. You might even throw in a repeat guest discount or promo code for them to use for their next visit.
Steal tricks of the OTAs
Cut your commissions down by copying the OTAs! Some of the marketing tactics they use can be easily applied to your site:
- FOMO: They use the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) to inspire guests to complete their reservation before that room is booked up! Have messages like “only two rooms left!” display above the room selection to encourage guests to finish their reservation now.
- Reassurance: On the other hand, reassure guests about their reservation by telling them about your free cancellation policy should they need to make a change.
- Ratings and social proof: Add ratings, reviews, or social media testimonials to your site. If potentials guests see that other travelers have stayed with you and enjoyed it, they’ll feel more comfortable with their booking.