In our recent guide “Building a Winning OTA Strategy for Your Hotel”, we focus on how to get OTA business working for your hotel or hotel group by discussing the role OTAs play in hotel marketing, measuring the costs of acquisition, optimizing OTA listings and much more.
Converting OTA guests into direct bookers proves challenging for many hotels and the vast majority do not yet have a clear strategy in place for doing so.
Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi states that hotels should consider OTAs as an acquisition channel to find new guests and ensure that these guests book directly when staying again in future: “Look at us as the cheapest source of referrals that you could imagine. If they come through me, you pay me once, and if they come back to me again and again, shame on you, you should make them a loyal customer.”
So, how do you convert OTA guests to book directly on future stays? Here are a few top tips and recommendations from our expert panelists:
1. Start with a top-down strategy
Establish specific objectives for the percentage of reservations you want on your website, mobile site, voice and social media.
2. Educate employees
Ensure your front desk staff know about promotions and are aware of your direct booking strategy. It’s important that all employees understand why direct bookings are so important. To encourage staff members to increase direct bookings, consider offering small rewards or compensation for good results.
3. Offer guest incentives
Offer incentives to guests such as upgrades or other perks to give them a good reason to book direct rather than via an OTA. Free wifi, breakfast, discounted rates, parking, early check-in and late check-out are amongst the incentives that some hotels offer to encourage guests to book direct.
4. Optimize your website & booking engine
Your website and booking engine play a key role in attracting direct bookings. They need to be user friendly, easy to navigate and mobile optimized featuring helpful content, visuals and the necessary information to help travelers plan trips.
5. Deliver outstanding guest experiences
This is one of the most important factors when converting OTA guests to direct bookers. By providing exceptional service at all touch points before, during and after guests’ stays, exceeding expectations and making sure your guests feel valued, you will make them more loyal and more likely to contact your hotel directly on future stays.