It’s no secret that Direct Bookings are sought after by hotels. They benefit properties by both reducing their cost of acquisition and handing control of the guest experience to the property from the outset.
We’ve looked many times at how a property can increase their opportunity to gain direct bookings, but let’s focus today on why a guest might choose to book direct. Understanding your guests’ reasoning when booking direct affords you the opportunity to win them over with more than just the cheapest rate. Armed with this knowledge, you can do all you can to make Booking Direct a more attractive proposition.
So why is it a guest may choose to book direct?
To develop a personal relationship for a better overall experience
You may have heard the adage “People buy from people”. This is somewhat paradoxical in the online world, where we market to reach a wider audience but sometimes lose the opportunity to create a personal relationship.
However, guests may choose to move from the very impersonal booking structure of the OTA’s to booking directly with the property, to afford the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with their hosts right from the outset. “The Billboard Effect” often sees a potential guest discover a property through an OTA, and then search the property’s website to make their booking.
Whether by email, phone calls or in person, the property can personalise their correspondence with the guest. They can learn more about the guest’s needs and preferences, assist with local knowledge and suggestions, and offer a tailored experience to suit the guest. In turn your guest gains the best customer experience from their stay.
To simplify the cancellation process, and make booking alterations easier
Guests now clearly prefer simple booking processes, no fee cancellations and the ability to make changes to bookings without penalty.
Dealing through OTA’s to vary bookings or make special requests can be challenging. The simplicity of dealing in person with a decision maker when a guest needs to make changes to a booking or make a special request, will increase their certainty around booking direct. Likewise, if the prospective guest has the freedom to cancel or change their booking without penalty they are more likely to choose this option.
If your property still has outdated terms and conditions that penalize guests for cancellations it is important that you look at these and bring them in line with current guest expectations.
To take advantage of a non-monetary offer
Today’s guests look for a great experience as well as a great price. Don’t underestimate the power of providing enticing benefits to those that book direct.
A guest’s perception of a non-monetary add on can often be much higher than the actual cost to the property. For example, supplying a food and beverage voucher for a free bottle of wine with dinner, or free dessert, will encourage restaurant use and drive further revenue to your business.
Likewise, offering late checkout or early check in can be considered high value by the guest yet be provided at very little expense.
To take advantage of loyalty offers
Loyalty programs for return guests who book direct can offer special rates and value adds via targeted marketing campaigns.
Your loyalty program can offer specific benefits such as free Wi-Fi, late check out, or a free happy hour drink each evening. You can also arrange discounted tours and activities if guests book direct for an additional stay. Return guests will seek out these offers to take advantage of their loyalty benefits.
Overall, to get the best value
Price of course plays a part here. At the property level, your cost of acquisition for the booking is lower, and it makes sense that some of this money saved on commission is passed on to the guest to make booking direct more attractive.
Rate parity precludes reducing the rates on your own website across the board. However, you can offer reduced rates by marketing to specific audiences, such as return guests in your database, or your social media audiences, with a link taking them to an exclusive offer.
Narrow rate parity clauses applicable in Australia also allow you to offer lower rates providing these rates are not advertised online. In this case, if a guest phones the resort or books in person, they can be offered a lower rate.
In addition, the ‘best value’ also factors in not just the rate, but also all the potential value adds that make booking direct advantageous to the guest.
Understanding the factors that may sway a guest toward a direct booking over booking via an online agent, arms you with the information you need to attract more direct bookings to your property. To increase your profitability and reduce your cost of acquisition it is important that you take these factors into consideration.
Are you interested in learning more about Direct Bookings? Check out our blog on How to Attract More Direct Bookings
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