What To Do When Your Hotel Direct Booking Strategy Isn’t Working

What can you do when your hotel direct booking strategy isn’t working how you’d like? There’s plenty you can do. Read on to find out more.

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Whenever a guest decides they want to book a trip away they are investing their money and, more importantly, their time into something that they hope will be an amazing experience. As the hotel owner or manager, it’s up to you and your staff to ensure this happens.
However, are they booking with you directly or are they looking around?

Unfortunately, for a lot of hotels without a direct booking strategy, they are allowing OTA’s the opportunity to capitalise on guests’ desire to find the best price at the best place at the best time.

The entire OTA industry is built on a business model that exists to help leverage price and convenience to make guests feel as though they can make a safe & secure booking while also ensuring that the OTAs stay top of mind with these guests.

It’s little wonder that they have had the lion's share of the hotel industry for so long.

The only way to combat this strategy with the OTA’s, and circumvent their 15-20% commission fees, is to create an effective hotel direct booking strategy where your hotel can own and manage the booking experience from start to finish.

But what to do when it appears that the strategy isn’t working as well as you’d hoped for? That’s exactly what we’re going to explain in this blog.

Same Message, Same Audience

This is where segmenting your hotel CRM data is incredibly important as it’s most likely made up of all types of people based on various demographics. This means that sending the same message to everyone simply doesn’t work and will weaken your direct booking strategy.

Think of it this way: your family is made up of several people i.e. your grandparents, your parents, aunts & uncles, cousins, and brothers and/or sisters. There are many different people and all have different needs in various aspects of family life. But you wouldn’t speak to your grandmother like you would your younger brother. It just wouldn’t work.

It’s the same with sending marketing messages to your guests. You need to be able to send curated personalised content through means that capture each individual's attention and meet their wants & needs.

This makes your message valuable and more personalised. Essentially, this is what segmentation is all about.

Focus on your target audience and segment them so you can effectively communicate with them and offer them an experience that no OTA could ever compete with. 

Personalisation will resonate with your guests’ decision-making and will go a long way to them booking with your hotel directly rather than indirectly with OTA’s. 

Furthermore, this will provide your hotel with all the first-party data including all guest's data and profiles from the moment they make their first booking.

Finally, you can begin nurturing a long-lasting relationship by interacting personally and directly with your guests across the entire booking journey across all relevant platforms.

That’s Not Your Audience

If there’s one thing that can really bring a hotel's direct booking strategy undone is when the right message is being delivered to the wrong audience.

The question we ask hoteliers when they’ve approached us about our booking platform is: what’s the point of marketing to your guests if you don’t truly understand what they need?

The only way you can discover what their needs are is through data. Every contact opportunity you can have with your guests is an opportunity to collect data. Your goal should be to use that data to further understand your audience so you can market to them accordingly.

Whether it be Google or Adobe Analytics, or a fully integrated hospitality CRM, these are great tools to understand where the demand lies, how your guests are preferring to travel, and what demographics are typically booking with your hotel.

Combining these elements and more together will generate proper marketing ROI from your audience.

Loyalty is Earned Not Given

The data tells us that it’s much easier to keep a customer than it is to find a new one. An effective hotel direct booking process will create opportunities to gather your guest's data that will be necessary for creating personal and authentic connections during both pre-and post-stay communications.

All guests wish to be acknowledged in some way during these communications, so taking the time to notice and demonstrate your appreciation for their custom is the secret sauce to direct booking magic.

One key statistic to keep in mind here is this: 53% of customer loyalty is driven by what occurs during the sales experience. Remember that.

Every point of contact you have with your customer is an opportunity to increase brand loyalty & advocacy starting at the initial contact you have with them.

Ensuring your brand is consistent throughout all additional contact is important when trying to achieve a positive guest experience at all times.

Reducing Shopping Cart Abandonment

If you’ve owned an ecommerce website before, or you shop online yourself, you’ve no doubt heard of shopping cart abandonment.

If you haven’t, it’s essentially when a user is looking to make an online purchase or booking, but for whatever reason doesn’t get past the cart stage.

This is literally the bane of every ecommerce store owner.

Whether it be through a sound email marketing strategy or a Facebook remarketing campaign, it’s important to deliver strategic messages to these users with the goal of driving them back to the website to complete their booking.

Our research & experience suggests that an automated email marketing sequence that includes three emails sent out at specific times post abandonment is key to reacquiring this traffic and converting them into bookers.

Data > Instincts

As we previously mentioned, data is at the core of every effective hotel direct booking strategy, as well as every marketing strategy for that matter.

Without it, it’s all just instinct and opinion, and that can create all sorts of issues.

The old saying “numbers don’t lie” is relevant here when allowing analytics and A/B testing to determine which marketing strategies are effective and which ones are killing your profit margins.

Never let an opinion get in the way of data as it may result in your guests looking to your competitors or OTAs to help them book their next holiday experience.

Get It Right and Reap the Benefits

As mentioned, data is at the centre of whether a marketing strategy has resulted in the desired outcome of a campaign or campaigns. In this case, it’s your guests booking with your hotel through your website rather than an OTA.

However, sometimes the strategy may not result in the desired outcome which is why strategies need to be reviewed from time to time to ensure they are always working towards said desired outcome.

By constantly reviewing your hotel's direct booking strategy and ensuring it delivers the booking experience they require, it will ensure that it never strays from the path of success.

In the event that it does, the above points in our blog are a great place to start when reviewing the performance of your strategy.

To find out more about how RoomStay can assist with your direct booking strategy, book a demo with us and take the first step to drive more direct bookings.