10 Different Ways On How You Can Increase Your Hotel Room Bookings
In the hospitality industry, hotel bookings are the lifeblood of business. Without guests to fill your rooms night after night, it’s impossible to succeed as a hotel. Therefore, increasing direct bookings needs to be a top priority.
With so many travel booking websites and third-party platforms out there, it can be tempting to rely on these channels alone to drive reservations. However, securing bookings through your own website and central reservations team should be the primary goal.
In this comprehensive guide, we will be outlining 10 highly effective tactics and strategies for generating more direct hotel bookings. From marketing and promotions to improving your online booking process, these tips cover the full range of ways to get more guests excited about booking rooms at your property.
Implement even just a few of the methods described below and you will be on your way to driving higher occupancy, revenue, and profits from direct bookings. Let’s get started!
Optimize Your Website for Direct Bookings
The first and most important strategy for generating more direct hotel bookings is ensuring your website is optimized for conversions. Your website is often the first interaction potential guests will have with your brand. Therefore, you need to make a great first impression and seamlessly guide visitors to make a booking.
Some key elements of an optimized hotel website include:
- Intuitive navigation – The menu, search bar, and site architecture should make it very simple for visitors to explore rooms, amenities, and special offers.
- Striking visuals – High-quality photos, especially of guest rooms and property amenities, help entice visitors to book.
- Clear calls-to-action – Buttons and links prompting visitors to “Book Your Stay” should be prominently placed.
- Streamlined booking – The online check out process should involve as few steps and clicks as possible to avoid abandonment.
- Mobile optimization – With rising mobile usage, ensuring a seamless booking experience on smartphones and tablets is a must.
- Site speed – Faster load times improve conversions, so optimize images and files for quick loading.
Investing in a well-designed, conversion-focused website with an easy booking process lays the foundation for higher direct bookings. Be sure to track website analytics too to see where improvements can be made.
Offer Discounts and Packages
The right promotions at the right times can be a highly effective way to generate buzz and increase direct bookings for your hotel. Discounts and travel packages appeal to guests looking for deals and added value from their hotel stay.
Some types of discounts and packages to consider include:
- Advance purchase rates – Offer 5-10% off for booking at least 2-4 weeks in advance. The further out guests book, the better discount they receive. This incentivizes early commitments.
- Stay longer rates – Provide a discount on nightly rates for stays of 4, 5, 7, or 10+ nights. Ideal for extended leisure or business trips.
- Romance packages – Bundle discounted rates with extras like champagne, rose petals, chocolate-covered strawberries, or late checkout for a romantic getaway package.
- Family packages – Offer free breakfast, connecting rooms, kid-friendly amenities, and other perks to attract families.
- Local attraction bundles – Partner with nearby museums, shows, tours etc. to package with discounted room rates.
- Meal packages – Include free breakfast, credits at onsite restaurants, or other dining perks.
When launching any promotion, be sure to spread the word across your website, email database, social channels, and other marketing touchpoints. Limited-time offers help create urgency. Keep a close eye on which packages drive the most bookings so you can refine your offers over time.
Highlight Unique Selling Points
Every hotel has certain features, amenities, or attractions that make it stand out from the competition. You need to identify your property’s unique selling points and promote these heavily across channels to attract direct bookings.
For instance, emphasize if your hotel:
- Has an ideal location downtown or steps from popular landmarks.
- Offers rooms with sought-after views of oceans, lakes, mountains, city skylines.
- Has a multi-level pool, full-service spa, private beach access.
- Is pet-friendly, family-friendly, or caters to couples.
- Onsite restaurants led by celebrity chefs or award-winning mixologists.
- Fun amenities like games rooms, sports courts, rental bikes.
- Hosts popular events, conventions, conferences.
- Elevated service standards and guest experience.
- Historic property with art, architecture and stories to tell.
Identify 3-5 selling points that genuinely set you apart and find creative ways to showcase these across your marketing. Guests will choose your hotel over others when you differentiate yourself and play up your strengths.
on Customer Service
Providing exceptional customer service is critical for earning repeat bookings and word-of-mouth referrals. When guests feel genuinely cared for at your property, they will be much more likely to book directly the next time they are in town.
Some best practices for boosting customer service include:
- Answering all inquiries promptly – Set a policy to respond to all emails and calls within 2 hours during business hours. Avoid making people wait.
- Resolving issues quickly – Empower staff to correct any problems on the spot, like offering dining credits or room upgrades.
- Pre-stay communication – Reach out a few days before arrival to see if any special requests or needs can be accommodated.
- Warm check-in experience – Greet guests by name and provide a property overview at check-in. Escort to room if possible.
- Thoughtful gestures – Provide small complimentary treats or personalized touches to delight guests.
- Post-stay outreach – Send a quick email thanking the guest and inviting them back.
- Loyalty programs – Offer special rates, upgrades, and perks to repeat guests.
Delivering service that exceeds expectations will turn guests into enthusiastic brand advocates who refer others and choose you first for upcoming hotel stays.
Encourage Direct Bookings
One influencer often overlooked is third-party online travel agencies like Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com etc. While listing on these sites has some benefits, an over-reliance on third parties means missing out on building direct relationships with guests.
There are several effective ways to tactfully steer potential guests into booking directly with your hotel instead:
- Offer an exclusive rate 5-10% lower for direct bookings, making it cheaper than third-party sites.
- Highlight the ability to earn loyalty points, perks, upgrades and packages only when booking directly.
- Mention how direct bookings allow customization of stay before arrival.
- Share concerns about booking on third-party sites, like missed reservation details, higher change fees.
- List direct phone number prominently on your website to talk to helpful staff.
- On confirmation emails, gently remind guests they will have a better experience booking directly next visit.
Being proactive and communicating the benefits of direct booking while showing availability and rates will get more visitors completing reservations on your website rather than clicking away.
Use Targeted Email Marketing
Collecting guest email addresses and sending targeted promotions is one of the most effective marketing tactics for increasing direct bookings. Emails have higher open and conversion rates than most other digital channels.
Some examples of well-timed, relevant emails you can send include:
- Upcoming special events – Send deals tied to major happenings like local festivals, sporting events, industry conferences etc.
- Holiday promotions – Offer holiday room packages or discounts for seasonal getaways.
- Birthday/anniversary offers – Provide special rates or extras to celebrate special occasions.
- Last-minute deals – Fill vacant rooms with killer discounts for upcoming weekends or weeks.
- Location-based offers – Segment your list by location to send deals catering to visitors from feeder cities or countries.
- Post-stay feedback – Ask for feedback on recent stays to inform service improvements.
- Customer re-engagement – Send special offers to guests who haven’t visited in 6-12 months.
Personalization, segmentation, well-designed templates, and appealing subject lines will get your emails opened and increase direct bookings.
Partner with Local Businesses
Partnerships with other businesses in your area can lead to a steady influx of direct bookings. Explore mutually beneficial partnerships with:
- Local companies – Offer discounted corporate rates for their business travelers.
- Venues – Recommend your hotel to attendees of events at nearby convention centers, stadiums, or music halls.
- Tour operators – Promote your property to visitors booking local tours, activities, and transportation.
- Restaurants – Create cross-promotions like including breakfast or dinner credits at popular area eateries.
- Complementary businesses – Jointly market with spas, golf courses, ticket sellers.
- Industry associations – Attend local tourism, chamber of commerce, or business association events to connect.
- Concierges – Communicate your key selling points to nearby hotel concierges who give recommendations.
Collaborating strategically with reputable, relevant businesses establishes your property as a preferred partner for accommodations. Make the referral process easy by providing promotional materials and discounts partners can pass along.
In addition to your website, be sure to leverage major social media platforms to improve direct bookings as well.
A savvy social media presence allows you to:
- Share visual content – Post stunning photos and videos highlighting your rooms, amenities, services, and special offers.
- Engage followers – Respond promptly to comments, questions, reviews, and messages from fans or potential guests.
- Promote hashtags – Create unique hashtags for your property or campaigns that guests can use and spread.
- Run social contests – Hold giveaways and contests with appealing prizes to increase engagement and brand awareness.
- Collaborate – Partner with local attractions, restaurants, brands, influencers on joint promotions.
- Retarget – Use pixels to dynamically advertise deals to visitors who viewed your website but didn’t book.
- Analyze data – Track conversions and engagement metrics to refine your social strategy.
With social’s incredible reach, creatively leveraging platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter provides phenomenal exposure to convert followers into direct bookings.
Provide Easy Mobile Booking
Mobile usage continues to grow exponentially across all demographics and activities – including travel research and bookings. If your website and booking process is difficult on smartphones or tablets, you are undoubtedly missing out on many potential direct bookings.
Some quick tips for optimizing mobile:
- Simplified navigation – Strip down menus and icons to highlight core booking pathways.
- Loads fast – Minify code and compress images to increase site speed.
- Display critical info – Emphasize location, main photos, amenities, and booking widget up top.
- Clickable calls-to-action – Increase tap target size of key action buttons.
- Streamlined checkout – Reduce clicks and fields required to complete bookings.
- Mobile-friendly promos – Provide exclusive mobile offers, flash sales, last-minute deals.
- App integration – Allow easy booking through your native iOS and Android apps.
With Google now indexing mobile-first, having an incredibly user-friendly mobile experience is not just a recommendation – it’s essential for gaining more direct reservations in today’s digital landscape.
Work with Travel Agents
While less prominent than in years past, travel agents still play an important role in the booking journey for many travelers – especially those planning more complex itineraries.
Some tips for securing agent-assisted bookings include:
- Share commission structures – Provide details on commissions offered for completed bookings.
- Familiarization trips – Host select agents on free overnight stays to experience your property first-hand.
- Educational sessions – Train agents on your key offerings, ideal guest profiles, and how to best position you.
- Dedicated contacts – Establish direct contacts between your sales team and top regional agencies.
- Promotional materials – Supply agents with brochures, videos, presentations, photos to inform and excite their clients.
- Trade shows – Attend industry conferences where agents gather to network face-to-face.
- Agent incentives – Offer rewards for meeting certain annual booking quotas.
With the backing of travel agents who believe in your brand, you can leak into thousands of new clients and turn them into devoted direct booking guests.
Getting more customers to book hotel rooms directly has so many advantages – from forging ongoing relationships to avoiding hefty commission fees on third-party sites. This guide outlined 10 proven strategies to dramatically increase your direct bookings in sustainable ways.
There are small tweaks like optimizing your website or running limited-time discounts, and bigger initiatives like building partnerships or overhauling your mobile experience. Pursue a well-rounded approach starting with the tactics that are most realistic for your team and budget right now.
The more value and booking incentives you provide, the more new and returning guests will choose you over the countless other lodging options competing for their business. With higher occupancy and revenues from direct bookings, you can then reinvest in further enhancing the guest experience.
We hope this comprehensive overview of how to get more hotel bookings serves as a springboard to take your reservations and revenue to the next level. Let us know if any tips in particular prove effective so we can share with other independent properties and hospitality brands as well. Here’s to your ongoing success and direct booking dominance!