Welcome to Right Revenue’s second series to help reduce those ever-increasing OTA commission cheques. We hope you enjoy the read:
1 – Operate on a Level Playing Field
We all know too well the ‘Panic Purchasing’ methods used by multiple OTA’s – Only 1 Room Left! 5 people Looking at this hotel! – the list goes on…
But for us hoteliers what is really important are the messages about Free Cancellation / Book Now to Lock In This Price and most importantly of all, No Pre-Payment Needed.
So if we are allowing an OTA to have such flexible booking conditions, cancellation policies and no booking deposit, are we offering our Direct Guests the same?
Make sure that you are billed in arrears and remove that initial barrier to book. Why would a guest booking direct with you and pay even £5.00 (as an example of booking engine commission) when they could book with an OTA for free?
If your own branded booking engine is still taking their commission at source, then change that and change it today.
2 – Subtle Messaging
We all know that we should be putting the Book Direct Message upfront and central at all times but here’s a simple tip for you…
If you have a password to access your wifi, why not change it to ‘BookDirect’ – simple!
Add Book Direct to every single piece of messaging you put in front of your guests. Start with your email signature but add to your website and all other off-line marketing material you print. Keep that Book Direct message up-front-and-central at all times.
3 – Use your website like a guest would
In fact ask your friends, family – people outside of our industry to ‘wander’ through your website. Ask them to find specific information or to book a particular rate and watch and I mean really watch how they interact with your site.
Is the site too ‘wordy?’ Is your Quickbook strategically placed on your site so that it is accessible at all times? (and by Quickbook I mean where a customer would enter the dates to make a booking). If you have to scroll to find it then you are making things too difficult for your customers – you have 3 eye-movements to capture someone so make sure you do.
Remember that your website should be a revenue generator first and an information giver second. So ensure that you have strong ‘Call to Action’ messages on your site. Change ‘Check Availability’ to ‘Book Now’ and make sure those book direct advantages are clear
4 – Encourage Guest Loyalty
This is something that we will talk about in more detail later on, but why not use the space on your site cleverly. Lots of websites now have ‘Liteboxes’ – those little square tiles that show your special offers or link to brochures. Why not use one of them to encourage guest sign-ups. Enticing text such as ‘Access Exclusive Rates Here’ or ‘Join our Priority Club’ will help. Your website designer can help add a landing page to capture emails which can then be linked to an Exclusive Rate or a Rate Group. These rates will be hidden from normal browsers and you have complete control over what you want to offer. And best of all, they can’t be rate parity checked by the OTA’s.
5 – Mmmmm…. Shouldn’t we just ask our guests?
So all these guests check-in having booked through an OTA and do we ever stop to ask them why?
Why not identify every guest who has booked through an OTA and give them a quick little survey to complete. Make it snappy with 3 or 4 key questions and reward them for completing by offering a free drink or late check-out if they return it to reception.
Then measure what the responses are. Won’t that tell us a lot about our own Online Marketing or Website Design?
As an industry I think we often forget that the customers that walk through our doors are ‘our’ customers NOT and OTA’s. We should be using every piece of information we have about our guests to segment them, communicate to them and most importantly, understand their buying behaviour. If we aren’t, then shame on us all!