How to lure guests to make a booking on your website instead on an OTA

I believe this is one of the most asked questions in the accommodation business. Daily, hotel owners and hotel managers ask themselves what they have to do to obtain many more direct bookings.

Of course, there are great solutions to this issue which are simple to integrate in your current business. First of all you need to do the math. Calculate the commission you pay to OTAs each time they provide you with a booking. To make it clearer, let’s say you pay 10€ every single time to an OTA for a reservation. If you receive a direct booking you save this 10€. In fact, you have a margin of 10€. That implies that you can decrease your room per night / per person up to 9€. Offering a lower price on your own website is already a huge enticement for many potential guests. 

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To increase the direct bookings we add some more juice to it and make it more interesting. Have a banner on your website close to your booking button that says, for instance, “book directly on our website and you’ll receive a special surprise from us” or, “book on our hotel page and we give you one bottle of wine for free.” You likely get the idea. Create incentives that make your new potential guests excited about staying in your hotel. Offer products that are cheaper than 10€ to each direct booking. If you give products away that are more expensive than the commission you pay to OTAs, you are actually making a bigger loss.

Although the gifts might look small, they have more value to your arriving guests than you can imagine. Your guests will look forward to the promised present. They will even ask you for it at check-in. Indeed, it is a method that the majority of accommodation businesses do not use. Therefore, you are one step ahead again. 

Another way to make your guests attentive about booking directly on your website or calling you is to have flyers in each room that illustrate the exact benefits of booking directly. Display all advantages and invest in the design. The design of the flyer has to be eye-catching and attractive. Bright colours and big letters make your guests want to pick up the flyer and look at it. If the flyer is too official it will look like a sales letter that is not interesting and that does not make any difference.  

One of the best methods to make your guests excited about booking directly is to provide a special coupon code. You can use another banner on your website that displays a code. While displaying the code it is important to use some scarcity to make it more effective. Accordingly, mention that this code is only valid until a certain date. 

I suggest not to use both methods at the same time. Using the coupon code and providing free gifts is too much. You will overwhelm your potential new guests and make losses. Test one method after the other. Track the conversions and analyze the results.