Simple Steps to Cut OTA Commission – Part 2
This is the second part of our ‘To-Do’ list and I hope you found the first blog last week useful.
Now if you were in any doubt as to whether our customers actually bother to shop around or if they always just use Booking.com or Expedia out of habit, here is a cold, hard fact… 85% of people who book travel online will shop multiple sites before committing to making a booking. So in real terms if you do have all-the-ducks-in-a-row, then you have a great chance to secure those bookings direct and at a much lower commission.
Last week we talked about ensuring you had the best rates, the best availability and a price promise you could stand over so lets look at some more ideas:
A hospitality blog I read this week shared the following stats:
• Almost 50% of hotel shoppers are willing to exchange personal information for relevant offers
• Over 50% have joined a loyalty scheme because it was easy to sign up
• Over 1/3 stay with the loyalty scheme that gave them the best added value
So if these are the facts, why are we not encouraging loyalty to our own site rather than that of an OTA? Okay, the OTA’s have the power to offer (as an example), the 10th night free – no matter how many multiple locations a guest stays in, but that isn’t a good enough reason for us to ignore the power that loyalty to a brand or a product can bring.
So how about going a step further than just having a Register With Us button on your website… How about having a Register Here to Access Priority Rates. Have this icon static on your website and use it to direct customers to specific rates that you want to offer that can’t be found anywhere else.
You should all have an ‘Internet Exclusive’ rate on your site by now that offers discount to transient guests that sits below the rates you give to OTA’s, so this rate could be listed as part of your Priority offering. But how about offering Special Rates that perhaps include a discount or reward for booking direct – priority upgrades; complimentary spa treatment or a round of golf. You all have little gems within your own hotel so why not offer an experience for a customer that makes them feel special and rewarded for booking direct.
Of course this is a two-way street and to access these special rewards they will need to give you their email but perhaps that is a win-win?
Some hotels feel that this might dilute more expensive rates that customers may have happily booked and of course this might not fit the strategy of all hotels but in my mind, if you are landing a booking with less cost than the commission an OTA would charge (lets use 18% as an average) then isn’t that a booking worth having? Personally I would happily run the risk…
Once you get these lovely customers into your hotel, how on earth are you communicating with them? You have a wealth of data – not just their email address or home address but their lead time, length of stay, the rate they chose, the extra they spent while in your hotel. How on earth are you using this wealth of information? If you don’t have a guest communication tool then it might be worth investigating. But like all software, it is only as good as the people using it, so use wisely. Have a strategy – ask yourself what you want to achieve; what are your goals and then implement and manage.
Check-in & Check-out procedures
I am lucky enough to spend a lot of time in hotel lobbies and I get to listen… and honestly for such an important part of your guests experience, the welcome on arrival and the sentiment on departure is often sadly lacking. How many times do your team genuinely interact with guests? How many time do they re-iterate your Book Direct message? How many times on check-out are guests asked about their stay and then the response to their response actually choreographed and managed?
For now I will leave hammering home the Book Direct message as I am sure most of you might be tired hearing about it. Every software company and blog being written out there at the moment are trying desperately to get this message across. I would however urge you to implement as many of these tips as possible. If you don’t, well quite frankly you are losing money and all hope is lost 🙂
My advice is to act now – implement some if not all of these tips and if you need help, you know where to come…