Getting your bookings through OTAs can be a costly proposition – often as much as 40% to 50% of your business. Of course, eliminating OTAs from your revenue stream is both unlikely and, in most cases, unwise. There are, however, some key strategies you can implement to maximize direct revenue:
1. Win the rate comparison battle
Consumers like a bargain. One of the easiest ways to maximize direct booking is to make price parity obvious. You’ve spent a lot of time and effort getting that visitor to your website, why not showcase your value? A price parity widget is a great way to incentivize your consumers into a direct booking. Rate comparison widgets can help you show a direct comparison between your “book direct” price and prices available on OTAs. You can also use a price comparison widget to highlight “book direct” benefits, like free parking or free WiFi.
2. Retarget your website visitors
A consumer is likely to visit the website of their chosen hotel at least once prior to booking. This is true regardless of the eventual booking channel. According to a 2017 behavior study by Fuel and Flip.to, the average consumer will visit 4.4 websites* before booking. The same consumer, will also spend an average of 28 minutes on a hotel website before booking. Use retargeting campaigns to keep your brand “top of mind” as your future guest continues their research. Retargeting campaigns are great ways to provide “book direct” incentives. For more info on what Milestone can do for you in re-marketing.
3. Target similar audiences
Knowledge is power. Use your knowledge of your “ideal” consumer to create targeted campaigns that target “like” consumers. Advanced targeting of like consumers was once only possible if you had large data sets and equally large budgets. Today there are much simpler and affordable ways to target audiences based on demographic and psychographic profiles.
4. Leverage shopping cart abandonment
According to a 2017 study by SalesCycle, as many as 81% of travel consumers abandon a booking process*. Don’t waste that partly-filled out form. Use shopping cart abandonment modules to capture partially filled forms and provide “incentives. Give consumers reason to come back by sending them “complete your booking” emails with special offers. Abandonment modules can also stop that user from leaving in the first place by giving an offer as the visitor is about to leave your site. If you’re interested in shopping cart abandonment and revenue recovery in general, Milestone’s award winning CMS system has built in solutions for these problems; you can learn more about our CMS by clicking here. We also have a whitepaper available on revenue recovery, so check that out.
5. Use email marketing to drive business
According to Statista, over 90% of adults use email and over 74% of teenagers do the same. Email marketing is still one of the most effective means of reaching consumers. Even more telling, marketing firm Adestra* found that when consumers want to hear from brands they love, email is still the preferred vehicle. There are important shifts in the market, however. According to a December 2016 study by email marketing firm Litmus, 46% of email is being consumed on iOS devices (iPhones or iPads). The next largest group are Gmail users at 20%. That means that there is a high likelihood that more than 60% of your emails are being read on mobile devices. Using email to drive direct bookings will continue to be a viable strategy. We have a lot of experience with email marketing at Milestone, if you think you could use our help click here.
6. Integrate CRM data with your email and paid media campaigns
In 2018 technology will continue to become more accessible to a wider range of businesses. Personalization and segmentation technology is among these. Leverage your CRM data to personalize email campaigns as well as your paid media campaigns. Personalization is an ideal way of providing tailored incentives based on consumer demographics. This highly tailored targeting greatly increases chances of conversions and boosts ROI.
7. Re-engage your audience with push notifications
Mobile users are comfortable with techniques like notifications. The ubiquity of mobile devices makes notifications a great way to re-engage consumers. Progressive Web Apps (PWA), are an ideal means of accessing this new communication means quickly and easily. A PWA-enabled website lets you send incentives to complete a booking or to message consumers with important upcoming specials. Be careful that your PWA technology has been properly deployed. The open source “lighthouse” plugin is a great way of testing a PWA site to ensure your consumers will get the experience they deserve. Check out another blog post we made on Progressive web apps here.
8. Provide “book direct” incentives
Regardless of the delivery vehicle, book direct incentives remain a large part of the attraction of booking direct. Focus your offers to visitors of your website by providing valuable incentives that have tangible benefits. A free glass of champagne on arrival is nice, but complimentary Wi-Fi, free parking or a free breakfast might land that direct booking.
9. Use content marketing to drive brand awareness
Create and publish content that answers direct consumer questions about your property. When creating content, focus on what’s happening near your business. Keep in mind that consumers always begin their travel search with activities and destinations in mind, not places to stay. Whether you are targeting business travelers, weddings, or vacationers, directly answer their concerns. Give consumers of all type content on what to do to increase brand awareness and get discovered early in their search. Milestone has decades of experience creating content, if you think your site could use our expertise, you can get some more info by clicking here.
Implementing some, or all these 9 techniques is not going to guarantee that you will book all your business directly. In fact, you could make a great argument that OTAs have a very important place in your demand funnel. Leveraging these techniques, however, is a great way to boost your direct business – and your margins in the process. Should you like more information about all the innovation occurring across Milestone, our team of experts with over 19 years of experience are here to help you, please feel free to reach out to us, [email protected] or +1-408-200-2211.