Booking habits are changing, the ‘Book Direct’ message is beginning to get through to the end user.
Premier Inn achieves on average over 90% of their bookings direct. This is not achieved through one single element but a combination of strategy, brand reassurance and most importantly assuring bookers that the rates are without a doubt cheaper direct.
Online travel agents (OTAs) are revered generally in the industry however there is an increasing recognition that these now represent an important role in the overall online strategy. Creating a more symbiotic approach to OTAs and using their ability to drive traffic to your website will redress the balance of bed nights and move them firmly back into the hotels camp. Premier Inn, despite achieving high levels of direct booking still engages with the OTAs in manners they are unwilling to disclose, but nonetheless it is recognition that this relationship can exist.
There are a variety of techniques which can be incorporated into the direct booking process to help secure bookers. Create a beautiful website with great images, consistent branding and valuable content. Include offering incentives to book direct through the use of vouchers, free Wi-Fi or free room upgrades. Furthermore, pricing widgets can now provide the reassurance to bookers that the price they are offered is the same as advertised on OTAs and therefore why not book direct? Adding some popular upsell items makes the experience more personal and adds value to the ‘book direct’ concept.
A simple, uncluttered booking engine that is brand aligned is a must. A two-step process is without doubt optimum for processing bookings and helps keep the experience consistent across mobile platforms. The usability of a website and it’s booking engine’s ability to operate well on mobile devices offers the booker a unified experience across desktop, tablet and mobile devices. Some 25% of bookings are now made on a mobile and 50% more people complete a booking if the website is mobile optimised.
Hotel Perfect’s direct booking team are constantly researching trends, speaking directly with customers and developing the latest features which are then rolled out to customers absolutely free of charge.
At a time where guest booking behaviour is changing, it’s important to keep ahead of competitors and give customers exactly what they want.
Quality imagery alongside concise wording, incentives for direct bookers and perhaps a voucher code are all great ways to entice guests to book via your website as opposed to an OTA.
By locating the voucher redemption box to the start of the booking process (which differs to most ecommerce sites), bookers using a Hotel Perfect engine immediately see the benefits of booking direct. The cost saving will display clearly alongside the selected room type or package. By receiving a small discount bookers are then more likely to continue to make a higher value reservation perhaps adding extras such as wine or spa treatments to their booking.
During the past 12 months Hotel Perfect have seen a clear increase in booking value by more than 20% and make it their mission to see that number continue to rise.