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5 Easy Steps to Drive More Direct Bookings

by Saahil Mehta

I come across hotel professionals everyday who keep complaining that OTA's are bringing in more and more business and direct bookings are continually declining. I'm glad that these professionals are looking at relevant data and coming to various conclusions. However what makes me want to pull my hair out is why they are not focusing on the user experience.

There are several examples of hotels with a great marketing campaign but a terrible website experience; others with a fantastic website but terrible booking engine experience and so forth. When I say user experience, I am specifically referring to the end-to-end experience for a potential guest. Various departments need to work in sync in order to ensure there is a flow from one step to the next.

To see where you stand, take out your smartphone and start by searching for your hotel. We live in a mobile-first world now –45% of total website traffic is attributed to mobile visitors! (Source: Sabre International). The user experience must be checked on the smartphone first (or tablet) before you transition over to a desktop.

1. Optimise your online presence

Your brand.com website should be visible immediately without scrolling down. If not, I question whether you are really trying to get direct bookings or not – quite amusing that I search for you and other sites (primarily OTA's) are inviting me to their websites and hence costing you so much more. Get on top for paid & organic search!

2. Optimise your speed

47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions (Source: Google Internal). DID YOU KNOW you can just search 'Google Page Speed Insights' where you can enter your brand.com and see your score out of a 100 for FREE. If you scored less than 85 (which is over 90% of the websites in this region), you need to make changes fast! Please note Google is kind enough to give you (also FREE) what needs to be done to improve your speed.

3. Offer Exclusive Packages

Website Exclusive Offers are a great lure for potential customers to book directly from your website. These offers can include unique rates or packages that are unavailable anywhere else. You could even offer special promotions. It is important to advertise these exclusive packages to increase awareness and to ensure that customers visit your website.

4. Do you know which pages on brand.com booking decisions are made?

A study was conducted by Sabre Hospitality Solutions for several hotels around the world to determine on which page booking decisions were being made (ie the page from which the guest is going from brand.com to the booking engine). The breakdown is as follows:

  • Homepage: 55%
  • Special Offers: 18%
  • Photo Gallery: 18%
  • Accommodation: 9%

Based on the data above, go to each of these pages and check the user experience, as well as, ensure there is an easy call-to-action to go to the booking engine from these pages.

5. Ensure your booking engine is responsive

You have a responsive website so you should in theory have a responsive booking engine too. Gone are the days of having a separate desktop & mobile booking engines. If you do not have a responsive booking engine, that means you are not ready for tablets nor phablets (hybrid between tablets and phones) which essentially means you are not ready for today's traveler.

In conclusion, the answers to many of your problems around Direct Bookings can be solved today. So stop wondering about the future and fix the present!

About Saahil Mehta, Man With The Plan, ResNetWorld

Saahil Mehta is the co-founder and Managing Director of ResNet World, a company focused on maximizing revenue and profitability for hotels through increased online presence and e-distribution. 

Mr. Mehta’s path into the hospitality industry is unique when compared to others.  He holds a Masters degree in Electronic & Electrical Engineering from UCL in London and has enjoyed the unique opportunity to not only travel the world, but to also live in five different countries across three continents.  His education has given him the tools he needs to analyze hospitality technology issues at their core and his travels abroad have taught him the needs of the guests we all strive to accommodate on a daily basis. 

Saahil’s passion for the technology and his love for travel are seen throughout ResNet World’s strategy and mission statements.  ResNet World now partners with over 350 hotels with offices located in Dubai, Berlin and Mumbai. 

Contact: Saahil Mehta

saahil@resnetworld.com / +971504400327

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