Direct Bookings for Hotels
You would think that with such easy access to the internet advertising a hotel would have become simpler. Instead, marketing managers are still faced with competition, especially from Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). The ultimate aim is to have 100% occupancy via direct bookings 100% of the time. This requires every general manager and marketing manager to perform a delicate balancing act. Further, managers must now use different online media channels to get maximum exposure for minimal cost. With the right online channels, tools can increase their direct bookings.
The Main Channels
Initially, hotels used OTAs as the main means for direct hotel bookings and this worked well for hotel managers. Hotels gained exposure with little effort and direct hotel bookings took place with very little manual labour. However, the downside of OTAs came in the form of hefty commissions. OTAs can take as much as 20% of every booking charge for hotels. This can be a costly method to obtain and maintain hotel customers in the long run.
Under pressure to increase hotel bookings, marketing managers began searching for newer and less costly methods to drive customers directly to their venues. As online marketing developed and became more easily accessible, hotel managers began to realise that campaigns could generate more turnover. Furthermore, easy access increased customer loyalty. Managers achieved this by enhancing the booking experience and customer journey for direct bookings. The methods for marketing to millennials in particular began to change.
Directly booking reservations through hotels cuts out the commissions paid to OTAs. But two new developments also appeared that demanded the attention of marketers: Mobile Social Media (e.g. Instagram) and Hotel Website Design. All three can work in tandem with each other. New media platforms such as Instagram can help a campaign reach customers who fit within the hotel’s specific market niche.
Three Online Channels Crucial to Direct Hotel Bookings
When you (as a marketing manager) are developing a marketing strategy to provide the greatest reach and ROI (Return on Investment) in attracting hotel bookings, you should utilise these three main channels:
Mobile Social Media
This has become one of the most important of the three channels when growing direct hotel bookings. Out of the many mobile apps available to users today, Instagram has topped all other platforms, especially when it comes to Direct Hotel Bookings. Almost half of all Instagram users choose travel destinations and book hotel reservations using this platform. As an added bonus for hotels, Instagram geotags the locations shown in user’s posts. This article Instagram: The Place to be for Travel Brands, highlights the new travelling trend on Instagram.
The Swayy way
Developed specifically for leisure businesses, Swayy’s platform is a world first for direct bookings. More importantly, Swayy has developed an easy to use booking platform that helps hotels connect with Instagram Influencers (vetted by Swayy) who can increase hotel brand awareness. Find out who Swayy’s Influencers are and read about How Swayy Works.
Your Hotel Website
Second, to mobile apps, your hotel website is a critical channel for increasing direct hotel bookings. It’s an important partner to convert new leads directed to your website by Influencers. The hotel website serves as a front line for customers to get a view of “what’s inside”. This, when combined with the Influencer’s post on Instagram is like inviting your potential guests to virtually “come and visit” before booking.
Direct Hotel Bookings at Your Fingertips
Once the Influencer has directed the potential customer to your website, the booking engine handles the rest for you. Direct hotel bookings become fast and effortless without paying a high percentage of the booking price to an OTA! Despite the reasonable costs of using Influencers through Swayy, you don’t pay the commission to the Influencer – Swayy takes care of this for you. To find out more about how this will work for you, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s no denying that every hotelier would ideally abandon the OTAs in favour of long-term and consistent direct hotel bookings. Yet OTAs will not disappear overnight. If customers are managed the right way, OTAs can be used to help long-term direct bookings as well. A potential direct booking guest can use an OTA to find your hotel, and once they’ve stayed with you they can return by booking directly through your site.
The Hotel Website: Gateway to Direct Bookings
Once they’ve been directed to your website you can offer better prices, better packages and incentives to keep them booking directly with you. Considering the value you will gain from returning customers and recommendations, it’s worthwhile to utilise this channel to get your campaign off the ground. Once customers have discovered you and your Influencer’s posts on Instagram (which tag your location geographically) your direct hotel bookings will significantly increase, as will your reach into regions and target markets you want to focus on.
How Swayy Helps You
With Swayy’s unique platform you can connect with Instagram Influencers who advertise your venue without the pricey PR campaigns offered by advertising agencies or the steep commissions of OTAs. So, you benefit in four important ways:
1) Increased hotel brand awareness
2) Greater profits (reduced OTA commissions)
3) Saved time and eliminated hassle
4) Expanded reach into target markets
Still not convinced? Click here to read more about Swayy or pay us a visit and let us show you how we can make your marketing work for you!
By Glendie Jirasek