How to increase revenue by increasing your direct bookings

Increasing direct bookings is an extremely powerful way to increase your revenue by saving on online travel agent commission.

How to increase revenue by increasing your direct bookings

With online travel agents taking more in commission each year, the power to drive new and returning guests to your website for direct bookings, or to call you to make a booking, is where you can get the biggest slice of the revenue pie.

In this article, we’re giving you some tips and tricks on how you can maximise direct bookings and with that your bottom line.

1. Offer the best price by booking direct

It’s natural for someone planning a getaway to try and get the best rate possible for their property of choice. So, if your direct booking rate is the lowest a potential guest can find for your accommodation - you're instantly more likely to secure that guest's booking with you directly. Getting the best rate by booking direct will also positively influence the guest perception.

Offer the Best Price by Booking Direct
Offer the best price for direct bookings
Takeaway

Takeaway

To maximise direct bookings and save on channel booking commission, offer the best price for direct website or phone bookings and ensure it’s priced below what you listed your property for on other channels.

2. Make sure your website has been optimised and performs well

Make sure your website has been optimised and performs well
Make sure your website has been optimised and performs well

To ensure potential guests find your property when they’re surfing the net, you’ll need to have a website that is optimised to show at the top of the search list.

To ensure your website motivates the person to make a booking on your website rather than go back to one of the channels, there are a few things you need to do to maximise the performance of your website.

Below are some common website tips:

  • Mobile responsive website - if your website isn't mobile responsive, you're instantly losing bookings. People are increasingly using their smartphones to search websites. Having a mobile-friendly website is important for several reasons:
    • Firstly, it increases sales and conversions by allowing users to have a seamless experience which is incredibly important as it gives you an edge over other websites that aren't as mobile friendly.
    • Secondly, it affects website visitor behaviour; bad mobile experience can make you lose bookings and a good one will enhance search engine optimisation (SEO), increase conversions (bookings), and maximise time spent on your site.
    • Thirdly, it can help your business attract more smartphone users. Google suggests that 75% of their users use smartphones for visiting websites.
    • Finally, Google began giving preference to mobile-optimised sites in mobile search results since April 21, 2015.
  • Photos of your accommodation - great photos lead to more bookings. The better your photos of your property or properties are, the more direct bookings you’ll get. Consider using a professional photographer to make sure your rooms and units are captured to be engaging and inviting, enticing the guest to book with you directly.
  • Video - Why scroll through an entire website when you get an idea of the room types, property and surrounding area all in a 30 second video? That's the thinking of the market at the moment. These days everyone wants instant answers, at a glance. A video provides that quickly and efficiently. It’s also a great way to enhance your social media.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) - Google (the biggest search engine in the world) has a number of factors that rank your website against other websites. It does this to figure out what to show first to the user for their search term / query. In simple terms, the better your SEO for your website, the better you rank in Google, the higher your property is listed for queries such as "Accommodation in New Zealand" and the more direct bookings you get. There are many SEO tools out there, including some free ones, such as e UberSuggest.
  • Deals - By incentivising the user to book direct and by adding promotional deals to entice repeat visits from past guests you’re highly likely to increase conversion rates (i.e. that the user will follow through and book with you). This can be done in many ways but simple methods are ones such as “if you book direct with us, you’ll get the best rate”, "get 5% off when you book direct" or "get a free bottle of wine when you book direct" etc. We'll leave this part up to your imagination and what you can offer - but think outside the box. Local tour guides, restaurant discounts and gift baskets and free shuttle from their drop-off location are always popular. You can promote this on social media as well!
Takeaway

Takeaway

Optimise your website, use SEO, state clearly that guests will get the best rate if they book directly with you and run promotions, and you’re set up to maximise direct bookings and increase your revenue.

3. Digital Marketing

So you've got the lowest price on your website compared to other channels, you've done work on your website and have started offering incentives to book direct, but what's next?

Promoting your business online is all about ROI (Return on Investment), or in the sphere of Digital Marketing - ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). First off, lets list the basics;

Social Media Direct Bookings Seekom
Digital Marketing

The above four are the most commonly used platforms to promote your business. Each platform works differently for each business and also industry. It's always best to trial each one out using similar objectives to make sure you are using the best stack of platforms to get results.

It's also really important to have Google Analytics installed on your website. Google Analytics (or also referred to as GA) is one of the attributes used to check whether your website is web standard compliant. Not having GA, means that your website isn’t up to modern web standards set by Google and others.

Once you have GA activated, it will allow you to:

  1. gather data and metrics about what is happening on your website;
  2. see the revenue made on your website through the booking screens if you turn on the eCommerce module and link it to Seekom!
  3. track the different marketing campaigns; and
  4. make decisions on what to do next based on the data you get.

There is a bit to learn in terms of navigating Google Analytics and what the output of data actually means. But once you get familiar with the basics through some tutorials you will be able to advertise more efficiently and effectively.

Often we see that operators want to use marketing methods, but don't know where to start. We suggest either using an Agency (which can be expensive), a freelancer or learning it yourself (e.g. online courses, YouTube, and Google help. You can also use your local commerce division or other areas to get assistance which can sometimes be free.)

If you are paying someone else to do this for you, it’s worthwhile learning the basics and common terminology used. This will help you when engaging withan agency and it will assist you in determining whether you are getting a good return on investment.

Takeaway

Takeaway

Digital Marketing works! It's just a matter of finding out which methods work best for your business to give you the highest ROAS. When using Google Analytics, make sure you use or upgrade to GA4. We’ve recently written a blog about why you should upgrade to GA4  that might be helpful.

4. Google My Business

Be active on Google My Business! This is important because it’s your business profile on Google. Google My Business provides a role in where your website ranks - with some data suggesting that the greater number of reviews you get, the better your website ranking will be.

Here you can manage your hours of operation (an important query often asked by guests), reviews, photos, and other business information such as location.

Google My Business
Google My Business

If you have a guest that has had an awesome stay and communicates this to you or your staff, suggest to them to leave you a nice Google review, or even better yet put it in your post-departure SMS.

Responding to reviews in a professional manner and making sure each one is personalised has shown a strong correlation to an increase in bookings and repeat guests - your business comes across as sincere and genuine and that you've taken time out of your day to reply to them.

Takeaway

Takeaway

It’s worth while spending some effort on Google My Business as it will support improving the ranking of your business on the web and with that the chances of increased direct bookings.

5. Connect with Local Businesses

A simple method of improving your direct bookings is to connect with some local businesses in your area. For example, you could promote a certain restaurant on your website and other platforms, and they return the favour. This can lead to a few extra bookings a month - as often most people would have already booked accommodation before they are in the area - but you never know and it really costs you nothing (as long as the businesses you're referring guess to are reputable).

Connect with Local Businesses
Connect with Local Businesses
Takeaway

Takeaway

Use your networks in the community to promote each other and with that increase awareness of your property.

6. Conclusion

With so much going on it can seem like too much to handle alongside running an accommodation business. The best approach is to take it step by step rather than trying to do everything at once. Assess the points we’ve listed above to see what your priority might be and then once that’s done tackle the next one.

Add your own methods and do your own research to make sure that what you do is ‘fit for purpose’ and meets the needs of your particular property. By doing this, you’ll be on a sure path to engaging more potential guests, getting more direct bookings, and increasing your revenue.

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Note: Something you may not know, is that we also build websites. Many of our customers have Seekom built, fully managed websites which we maintain, including SEO management. If you’re interested in finding out more about this, get in touch.

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