Recently Taylor Short, Hotel Booking Analyst for the online technology comparison company Software Advice, released a new report which studied how to encourage guests to book direct by taking advantage of the unique features smaller hotels can offer. We had the opportunity to speak with Taylor to learn a little more about what his research uncovered.
Why are direct hotel bookings especially beneficial for small hotels?
When travelers book direct, small hotels benefit in a couple different ways. First, hotels avoid paying the commission online travel agencies charge for indirect bookings. Secondly, it gives hotels a chance to learn more about how guests are arriving at your site and their preferences to increase personalization.
What are the key factors that are leading to cheaper direct hotels bookings?
No one knows for sure, but it seems like OTAs may be easing up on commissions because their volume is so high, they don’t see it as a significant loss. On the other hand, regulations on parity clauses, which force hotels to maintain the same rate on their own site as well as the OTA, may be freeing hotels to post lower direct rates.
How can small hotels entice direct bookings on their website?
One common way smaller hotels are driving direct bookings is through website popups. We know that many travelers, especially Millennials, search several different sites before booking. To grab those who visit your hotel’s page, include a bold pop-up that encourages them to “book direct and save” and leave links to OTAs near the bottom of the page.
What incentives could potentially generate more direct hotel bookings?
In past research, we’ve found that room upgrades and room service are most likely to convince travelers to book direct. It’s important to determine what your hotel can offer guests as add-ons that generate interest but don’t break the bank.
What can a small hotelier leverage, that a big brand hotel can’t, to generate direct bookings?
Smaller, boutique hotels are generally able to offer a more personalized, authentic experience than the big brands. Smaller hotels often have unique aspects that attract guest, such as being located in a beautiful natural environment, an outrageous design or a specific theme. Identify the services or features unique to your hotel and offer guests an authentic experience they cannot find anywhere else.
Taylor Short is a Hotel Booking Analyst for the online technology consultancy Software Advice.