If you are running an accommodation establishment and want to generate unlimited leads, then there is no doubt that the meta-search engines and the online travel agencies or OTAs are going to be part of your marketing mix. Without them you would be nothing. To run a successful business in any niche, you will need a constant supply of good prospect leads coming to your business to make inquiries and this is what you get with these platforms. They are especially important during those low booking seasons or when you are looking to fill your rooms in the last minute and you have no idea where you are going to get your customers. But you must not rely on these 100%. It is also necessary to invest in an accommodation booking system that will get direct bookings to your business.
The direct bookings through your accommodation booking system are necessary because online travel agencies and meta-search engines will consume a significant part of your booking revenues. When you are selling your accommodation products through these OTAs, you also have to enter into rate parity agreements and contracts which basically bar you from undercutting OTAs through lower pricing. These rate parity clauses will prevent you from selling your rooms at a lower rate on your direct booking portal. So you have to sell at the same rate or higher.
But all is not lost. If you are running an accommodation website, you could still get much of that revenue directly by investing in a good accommodation booking system so that you can avoid those hefty OTA commissions. Here are some tips on how you can drive direct bookings to your online portal so that you can maximize the revenues for your accommodation establishment.
Start a Blog
The blog is one of the best revenue drivers in the business. Write good articles about your accommodation products and pitch to your customers on some of the deals which are available. You can subsequently direct them to book directly on your accommodation website.
Persuade Your Visitors through Good Design
Travelers generally browse through your website to evaluate the various travel products on offer and decide the best options for them. You can use smart web design in order to capture that traffic and get them to book your accommodation products. The most obvious step that you can take is providing a “Book Now” button on your website. These should be located in a more visible space such as the top of your website. Use photographs in order to showcase the best room products that you have. When travelers are booking directly via your website, they expect to get better rooms. Good quality, high-resolution images can help you capture this market. Showcase some of your unique and beautiful-looking room designs on the web page.
Monitor the Review Sites
Sign up on review websites such as TripAdvisor and monitor conversations, stepping in when your establishment is mentioned. Try to answer as many reviews as possible which are posted by the customers whether they are negative or positive. The aim is to try and steer every conversation towards an amicable resolution. Address all the complaints posted by the customer.
Because you cannot undercut the OTAs through pricing, the best way to draw more direct bookings is by creating attractive deals and packages that customers can book. Rate parity agreements with the OTAs may also not cover offering advantageous pricing to certain segments of your market or groups of customers. So you can use these channels to offer special low-priced deals which they are unlikely to find anywhere else. The best way to beat the rate parity clauses is, however, by bundling products so that your customers can buy them as a package.