The rise of online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Booking.com, Expedia, and Agoda has undeniably changed the landscape of the travel and hospitality industry.
While these third-party platforms offer increased visibility for hotels among potential customers, there’s a growing trend among hoteliers to promote direct bookings, where guests reserve a room directly through the hotel’s official channels, such as its website, reservation phone line, or in person.
Guestroom Genie takes a look at why hotels prefer customers to book directly and the benefits it brings.
1. Cost Savings
Perhaps the most immediate benefit of direct bookings for hotels is the reduction in commission fees.
OTAs typically charge hotels a percentage of the room rate for every booking they generate.
By receiving bookings through their own website or direct channels, hotels can save on these commission fees, leading to higher revenue per booking.
2. Greater Control Over the Guest Experience
When guests book directly, hotels have more control over the guest experience from start to finish.
This includes setting the right expectations, tailoring room choices to the guest’s needs, offering special packages, or adding personal touches to make their stay memorable.
Direct interactions also minimise misunderstandings and streamline the entire guest experience.
3. Strengthened Brand Loyalty
By fostering direct communication with guests, hotels have an opportunity to build stronger brand loyalty.
Direct booking channels allow hotels to showcase their unique brand identity and values, creating a deeper emotional connection with guests. Plus, direct bookings often enable hotels to enrol guests in loyalty programs, leading to repeat business.
4. Access to Comprehensive Guest Data
Direct bookings give hotels access to richer guest data. This can include preferences, reasons for traveling, past stays, feedback, and more.
This data can be invaluable for marketing, tailoring offers, and understanding the evolving needs of their clientele.
5. Flexibility in Pricing and Offers
When guests book directly, hotels have more flexibility in terms of pricing and special offers.
They can offer last-minute deals, upgrades, or special packages without having to navigate through OTA policies or restrictions.
This can lead to more competitive rates and better value propositions for guests.
6. Reduced Overbookings and Complications
OTAs often work with multiple properties and their real-time room availability might not always be accurate.
Direct bookings can reduce the chances of double booking or other booking-related complications, ensuring a smoother operational process and happier guests.
7. Opportunity for Direct Feedback and Reviews
Direct interactions with guests also open the door for feedback. Hotels can prompt guests to leave reviews on their website or provide feedback directly to the hotel management. This can provide insights for improvements and also helps the hotel to build an online reputation.
8. Enhanced Post-Stay Engagement
After their stay, hotels can maintain the relationship with guests through email newsletters, special return offers, or updates. Such post-stay engagement is more seamless and impactful when guests have booked directly.
The Take Home …
While OTAs will continue to play a significant role in the hospitality industry due to their reach and convenience, the benefits of direct bookings from a hotel’s perspective are substantial. For hoteliers, it is essential to strike a balance between utilising OTAs for visibility but also investing in strategies that promote direct bookings to enjoy greater profitability, stronger guest relationships, and better control over the hotel’s brand experience.
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Guestroom Genie’s property management and reservation system is designed to simplify bookings, and streamline operations through one smart, straightforward, cost effective application, leaving you more time to improve guest experience.