We are all paying too much commission. We are all really aware that these commission cheques are increasing each month. But do we have all the bases covered?
This is the first in a series of 3 blogs and to start, here are my first 5 tips to help you along
1 – The First Step – Start where customers start.
If you have a Pay Per Click campaign does it clearly state that by Booking Direct you get the best deal? Does your ad include direct links to specific rates? Did you know that you can also have a link to a hidden rate on your Google Ad that you can only access through that link and therefore can’t be ‘rate parity checked’ by the OTA’s.
Speak to your Online Marketing Company and make sure they have a clear strategy. You make sure you are in the driving seat. Remember it is less about visitors and more about quality conversions. Know what questions to ask – for example what is the Cost Per Acquisition? Which keywords are they bidding on? Which are converting? Do not hand over control and walk away from your online marketing. Make sure you are in the driving seat as simple changes can make a huge difference.
2 – Clear Messages -Have you strong Book Direct messages on your website?
Your web designer can add these for you and they work. This is one example but be clever with the text.
For other examples of clear Book Direct Messaging – Best Rate Guaranteed / No Booking Fee / Access to Exclusive Packages / Complimentary Upgrade (subject to availability) / Chance to win an upgrade to a suite etc etc etc. Remember that over 80% of people who search online will come to your own website so make sure those messages are up front and centre.
3 – Make it Emotive
Once we get them to your booking engine, how are you making them feel? We all know that the majority of purchases are made not through necessity (you have a competitive set remember) but they are made emotively. So how are making customers feel? Please, please stop using hotel acronyms like B&B or DBB. Maybe obvious to us, but stop for a moment and think of the customer. My advice would be to ‘soften’ everything down. Stop screaming at people and start empathising. Even the standard bed and breakfast rates can be changed to ‘Stay with Breakfast’ or even ‘Breakfast Inclusive Rate’. It is no longer enough to say ‘Best Available Rate’ as this is often mis-leading and often not your best rate!
4 – Now sell it
How about those rate descriptions? Do you really think your customer wants to know that ‘this rate includes overnight and breakfast’. I think not. Go back to that emotive feeling and ask yourself what makes you want to stay somewhere. Why not elude to that restful sleep your guest may have in your comfy new beds. Or perhaps they can start the day with a delicious, cooked to order breakfast using locally sourced ingredients. Better?
5 – Is it the Best Rate?
Before you can go public with a Best Rate Guarantee, do you actually have one? We all worry a little about Rate Parity agreements but they are easy to get around. Most hotels now have an Internet Exclusive Rate, although again I would suggest changing to ‘Book Direct for the Best Rate’ or ‘Book Direct Exclusive Rate’. This rate will come with terms and conditions that sit outside your OTA rate parity agreements. These rates should sit slightly under your Bed & Breakfast Rate but by how much? Some hotels chose a flat £5/£10/£20 but take into consideration the 15-20% you are giving away to an OTA. As long as you are securing a booking directly with a discount of your B&B rate that costs you less than the commission you would pay an OTA, then I think that is a good deal.
You can of course get around the OTA’s is a slightly different way and that is by keeping a room type for your site and your site alone. You don’t have to give the OTA’s full inventory availability so if you want to keep your ‘Classic Rooms’ or ‘Junior Suites’ just for your direct guests then you can
So these are the first 5 basic steps. Stay tuned for 5 more… As an industry, let’s do what we can to encourage as much business directly as we can.
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