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25 Tried-And-Tested Direct Booking Tactics for 2020
By Lily McIlwain
Monday, 6th January 2020
 

January, the month of fresh starts and good intentions; a chance to take stock and reset, so it’s the perfect time to put new strategies into action - but you could be forgiven for feeling short on ideas after an exhausting festive period.

Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up some of the most successful direct booking tactics ready for you to implement in 2020. We asked every hotelier at the Direct Booking Summit: Miami to list five tactics they’d used that year, then rate each out of 10 in terms of the effort they took and the impact they had.

The result is a collection of tried-and-tested actions vouched for by hoteliers at the top of their game. If you’re looking to drive your direct booking performance in the new decade, this list is the place to start.

Highest impact: Metasearch

Coming out top in terms of pure impact was metasearch. Having a direct listing on price comparison platforms like Google Travel, TripAdvisor and Kayak is a high-return way to attract qualified traffic to your booking engine.

There are two components to listing your hotel on meta: connectivity and management. Connectivity allows your rates to be fed through to your listings on different platforms, whereas management involves adjusting your bids and ad spend in order to maximize your return. Many hoteliers opt to use a management service to assist them, as self-managing daily bid changes isn’t feasible for most organizations. You can find out more about Triptease's own meta offering here.

Key to high performance on metasearch is good parity. There’s nowhere to hide on a metasearch listing: prospective guests can instantly see if you have a worse price than OTAs. Both click-through and conversion rates are substantially higher when the direct price is in parity with, or lower than, those of other advertisers.

One hotelier, who listed meta as the highest-impact tactic they’d tried, put it plainly: “Metasearch advertising paired with parity management doubled our direct channel contribution.”

Highest return: OTA email templates

Low-effort, high-impact strategies are the holy grail for busy hoteliers - and the tactic that came out on top at the Direct Booking Summit was OTA message templates.

“We created a message template to be delivered by the OTA upon booking,” explained the hotelier behind the idea. “This gives us the opportunity to own the guest after the booking is made.

“Within the message is a property backend page link which allows guests to opt into our marketing, and for us to collect their details.”

While this option won’t be available on every OTA, its high impact score shows that this hotel has tapped into a crucial direct booking strategy: capturing information from OTA bookers and re-marketing to them the benefits of direct. Whether you achieve this with an automated solution or at the front desk, converting OTA bookers should be a priority. It’s on you to make sure that repeat bookers never use an OTA twice.

And on that note…

Another ‘quick win’ tactic that ranked highly for return (effort = 3, impact = 9) was one aimed at precisely that: converting OTA bookers. One hotelier described how they handed out business-card sized coupons at check-in to every guest who had booked through an OTA. The coupon gave the guest 15% off their next booking with a special rate code.

While not every guest will return to the same hotel, those that do are far more likely to book direct if they’ve personally been given a financial incentive. This relatively low-cost strategy is a great way to quickly educate guests about the benefits of direct.

The full list

Keen to get started? Here’s the full list of tactics along with their impact vs effort scores. Which ones will you implement in 2020?

Metasearch
Effort: 1
Impact: 10
Want to know more about meta? Check out our Hotel Metasearch Handbook, or get in touch with the team to find out more about Triptease Meta.

Modified Broad Match on Google
Effort: 1
Impact: 10
Modified Broad Match is a relatively recent addition to Google Ads targeting tools. It allows you to create keywords more targeted than broad match, but with a greater reach than exact match.

OTA template message with direct link
Effort: 1
Impact: 10
"We created a message template to be delivered by the OTA upon booking. This gives us the opportunity to own the guest after booking. Within the message is a property backend page link with the ability for guests to opt into our communications."

Triptease
Effort: 2
Impact 10
“We partnered with Triptease to manage rate parity and increase guest engagement on our very own site.”

Guest advocacy platform
Effort: 3
Impact: 10
Guest advocacy platforms facilitate guests sharing positive reviews of their stay with their organic networks. Examples include flip.to.

Website & booking engine optimization
Effort: 3
Impact: 10
“We went through every page of our website with a fine-tooth comb.”

Upsell platform
Effort: 2
Impact: 9
Upsell platforms help you to advertise your offers and increase your average order value. Examples include Oaky.

Lowest rate direct
Effort: 1
Impact: 8
“We always have the lowest rate on our own website. It doesn’t show on metasearch, so it can’t be scraped.”

Displaying rates in ads
Effort: 4
Impact: 10
“We pull in-context rate feeds into display, search and social campaigns. It’s resulted in higher click-through, conversion and return.”

Retargeting
Effort: 3
Impact: 9
“Retargeting has been the most effective way we’ve managed to drive more direct bookings and reduce our reliance on OTAs.”

Offer coupons to OTA bookers
Effort: 3
Impact: 9
"We printed coupons - business card size - that gave guests 15% off their next booking with a special rate code. We handed these out at check-in to every guest that booked through an OTA."

SEO
Effort: 3
Impact: 9
Make sure your Google My Business listing is up to date, and focus on Local SEO to see the highest impact in 2020.

Facebook remarketing
Effort: 3.5
Impact: 9
"We use Facebook and Instagram ads to retarget guests in our known feeder markets."

User-generated content
Effort: 2
Impact: 8
“We work with local influencers to create memorable ads.”

Loyalty & rewards platform
Effort: 1
Impact: 7
No longer the preserve of branded chains, loyalty schemes and reward programmes are accessible to more hotel types than ever. Check out platforms like The Guestbook and Stash Rewards.

TripAdvisor comment responses
Effort: 1
Impact: 7
“We respond to all our TripAdvisor comments with information about booking direct for the best rates, cashback, etc.”

Combined meta & parity management
Effort: 5
Impact: 10
“Metasearch advertising paired with parity doubled our direct channel contribution.”

Pay-per-click advertising
Effort: 5
Impact: 10

Email campaign to OTA bookers
Effort: 3
Impact: 8
Set up segments in your CRM system, or manually using lists, to specifically target different guest types and maximize the impact of your offers.

Team alignment
Effort: 3
Impact: 8
“We have a team of over 3,000. We worked on aligning everyone to our core company values, leading to a happier team and better service.”

Rate parity
Effort: 6
Impact: 10
“We took control and eliminated partners who were undercutting us. We saw a direct booking increase of 3 percentage points as a result.”

CRM & personalized emails
Effort: 4
Impact: 8
If you're not sure where to start with CRM, checkout this case study from The Lancemore Group on how they used it to increase their direct revenue by 25%.

Update website meta data
Effort: 4
Impact: 8
Ensure your tags are up to date and your content is as fresh as possible.

Interactive video with direct links to booking engine
Effort: 6
Impact: 10
Video is particularly impactful in social media campaigns, so it's worth considering if this is an area of focus for your hotel in 2020.

TripAdvisor Business Advantage
Effort: 9
Impact: 10
Business Advantage is the suite of tools available to hotels to enhance their profile on TripAdvisor.

This article originally appeared on the Triptease blog. Triptease's Direct Booking Platform is built to help hotels drive direct bookings and boost guest relationships.

Find out more on their website, or follow them on Twitter @triptease.

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