In a travel market of different channels, discounts and offers, it can be confusing for consumers when deciding the best way to go about purchasing their next holiday. To help clear through the clutter when booking travel, establishing and highlighting your hotel’s direct booking benefits can help your potential guests choose to book directly through your own website. But what is a direct booking benefit and do they really encourage guests to book directly?
What are direct booking benefits?
Direct booking benefits can generally be split into two categories: price benefits and material benefits. They are both powerful tools that revenue managers and hotel marketer use. However, they both have their own advantages and disadvantages. By not having to pay commission to OTA’s, direct bookings can give you an additional budget. Use it to offer something special that can help seal the deal with your potential guest, as well as give them a memorable experience.
The impact of price
Price benefits are a powerful tool that can help revenue managers drive bookings. You can use them especially to strategically influence occupancy during certain periods or days. Upsells with discounts on multi-night offers, best price guarantees, promo codes with discounts - these are common and effective direct booking benefits. This kind of heavy discounting and membership pricing is also used on OTAs, and often customers are trained to expect or hunt for discounts. However, they can take a toll on your profit margin and leave you in a race to the bottom.
The power of a non-price offer
Material direct booking benefits can be something really special that also positively impacts the overall guest experience. These are often really effective—the guest’s value perception of this offer is much higher than its actual cost. For example, a spa voucher or F&B voucher can both impact travellers that aren’t as sensitive to price (business travellers) and encourage behaviour like going to your restaurant and ordering dinner and drinks to go along with their free dessert voucher. This drives further revenue for your hotel as guests are likely to enjoy these facilities more. Guest experience is a big focus for most hoteliers, and these material direct booking benefits also influence overall guest satisfaction.
5 top direct booking benefit tips
- Stay away from highlighting things you offer to all guests, or that guests would expect you to offer as standard practice. For example, hot showers and clean beds are hotel staples that do not differentiate you from the competition.
- Keep your target audience in mind when choosing what direct benefits to highlight. Building on the previous point, you will also want to choose what direct benefits to highlight depending on your target audience. For example, remote workers might find ‘free laundry services’ a strong benefit, while couples staying for one or two nights might not.
- Take advantage of the high-value perception of material goods compared to their actual costs. The cost of goods for coffee is about 8% of the total price of a coffee. In one case, when offered to business guests, helped to recover 125 guests in 5 months. A low-cost, but valuable offer. Similarly, in another example, a free drink voucher rescued 515 bookings for 4 hostels over 3 months.
- Create urgency for powerful results. Even when adding “*if available” for priority room upgrades or priority late check out, one of our clients saw a 10.8% conversion rate increase based on an A/B test with 120,000 visitors.
- Find the right partners. Partner up with local businesses (think museums, art galleries, concert venues etc.) to offer better deals for your guests. This will help them in their trip planning and improve their overall experience.
💡 Unsure why this matters? Find out more about why direct bookings are better than OTAs!
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