Listing your inventory on the OTAs is both a blessing and a curse as it’s a great way to reach new travelers but it’s also an expensive way to reach new travelers. Other hoteliers and innkeepers launched campaigns aimed at the OTA bookers to encourage direct reservations and keep commission costs down. If you’ve faced the same challenge lately and want some ideas for turning your OTA guests into loyal customers, check out the seven ideas below!
1. Have a best rate guarantee
Most travelers are shopping around trying to find the best deal or price and by showcasing on your site that you offer a best rate guarantee or even use a third party app that displays the rates on your OTA listings so guests see that the rate is the same, can help encourage guests to book directly with you.
2. Share exclusive discounts
We’re not recommending breaking your rate parity agreement but there is no reason you can’t send emails to your guests with exclusive discounts or offers. Not only is having your guests’ email addresses a good idea for future communication and promotions, but by marketing directly to them, you can offer a smaller discount or offer that has to be booked direct instead of paying a commission and this discount will most likely be booked by multiple guests!
3. Offer exclusive amenities
This one can get a bit tricky as most guests expect the same amenities and service across the board but you could offer complimentary Wi-Fi or better parking spaces for direct bookers and guests that have booked on OTAs could pay a nominal fee for these benefits.
4. Introduce a loyalty program
Start offering guests incentives and rewards for booking direct. This could be as simple as copying the restaurant industry’s punch card system where guests only redeem rewards for direct bookings.
5. Invest in website optimization
As we’ve said in other blogs, your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an on-going effort and it’s especially important if you want to show up high in search results where the OTAs are showing up.
6. Use website tricks of the OTAs
Besides comparing prices, a major reason travelers go to OTAs in the first place is to view reviews! Use reviews and testimonials directly on your site or implement feeds from sites like TripAdvisor where travelers can see your reviews showcased on your own site.
7. Remind them to book direct
This seems like the most obvious but is often overlooked. At check-out or in your thank you letter, remind guests that they get the same great rate by booking direct or offer a small discount to encourage them to book their next stay right away.