7 Reasons Why Your Hotel Fails With Direct Bookings

Hoteliers all over the world are working hard to get ahead of OTAs on the Direct Booking battlefield. Some of them succeed, some of them do not.

Russian legendary writer, Leo Tolstoy, says in his famous Anna Karenina that “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” If we drew an analogy to our subject here, I believe that we will find that while hotels which are successful with Direct Bookings share many similarities, the ones who fail – can fail from many different reasons.

Therefore, I’ve decided to dedicate this blog post to the most common mistakes that keep hoteliers from having a sustainable and independent online direct bookings channel.

Your hotel website isn’t compatible with mobile web browsers:

While more than 50% of the total worldwide traffic comes from mobile devices, it is unacceptable to have a website that is not “Mobile First.”

The Mobile First approaches appeared in 2011 and started as a popular trend among UI/UX professional communities. As you may realize from its name, this approach means that designers and developers will be designing and coding mobile websites/experiences before they will design and code its desktop versions.

What does it mean for hotels?

A – Always check, test, and QA your mobile websites.
B – All new pages, content, media that you want to add to your site has to be first optimized for the mobile view.
C – Marketing communication on social media, online ads creative should all be designed for users that will be consuming it via their mobile devices.
D – Online booking flow must be perfect for the mobile experience.

Do not neglect mobile – Do mobile first!

Slow webpage loading time:

Did you now that an online consumers survey from 2012 claims that “40% of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.” Amazing, isn’t it?
Well, guess what, it is 2018 now. So imagine how vital it is today for your hotel’s site to be as fast as possible.

What does it mean for hoteliers?

First of all, you have to test your website’s speed regularly.
Google has a fantastic and free tool for that (check out other amazing 26 Free online tools for hoteliers). What I like the most about this tool is that it will not only tell you your site’s loading time, but it will also analyze for you how many of your website visitors may leave your site due to slow loading time, and also advise you how you can fix that.

So go ahead and test your mobile site’s loading speed. You can start with your home page, but make sure to also test other web pages that are more deeply into your online booking flow.

Google loading speed tool 1

You don’t have high-quality rooms & hotel amenities photos:

Visual content is one of the most critical factors for any eCommerce success.

A recent study shows that 78% of online buyers consider online product/service images to be an essential element in their purchasing decision.

The average seasoned traveler will visit 38 booking sites on average before booking. One of these 38 is your hotel website. If you fail to deliver a visual experience of staying at your hotel, the guest will probably choose another hotel.

You can debate the number of images you should have, where and how to present them on the website, or how to share hotel images on social media, but there is absolutely no debate that each hotel website should have high-quality photos of the hotel.

What hoteliers should do:

Hire professional freelance photographers for a gig, and produce high standard HD photos of at least: Rooms, view from rooms, the lobby, the guestroom, restaurant(s), exterior area, the pool, and don’t forget the local attractions in close proximity to the hotel.

You don’t have enough guest reviews:

Now that we have established the important of images, let’s take a look at the single most powerful factor of online persuasion – Word of mouth.

Guest reviews have an enormous impact on the booking decision. TripAdvisor’s survey finds that 96% of online users find reviews important when looking to make an online booking. Not only that, but the average traveler needs to read 6-12 reviews to make a decision.

Obviously, reviews will only help if they are honest and positive. But if they are honest and positive, they can turn to a magic pen that will help you kill it on social media and drive lots of curious travelers to your hotel’s site.

What should hoteliers do?

Make sure that your hotel’s website has a reviews section/plug-in. You can easily broadcast your TripAdvisor reviews on your site with a TripAdvisor widget.
Keep track of reviews, and respond to each negative review to show that you care.
Take advantage of positive reviews and distribute them across social media.

hotel review shared on facebookhotel review shared on facebookhotels reviews shared on fb

Your Best Price Guarantee message isn’t communicated correctly:

This is a sort of a no-brainer. You can’t expect experienced online consumers who feel incredibly comfortable with booking on OTAs to change that behavior unless you can provide a better value for their money.

But only having the best price, or a better value for money isn’t enough. You also have to deliver that message in a way that will persuade your website visitor that booking direct is the best option.

As human beings, we like to learn. Learning is one of the most rewarding experiences there is. The moment we obtain new knowledge, our brain releases dopamine, which was discovered to play a role in humans’ motivation to start and finish tasks.

When prospective guests are visiting your hotel’s website, do everything that you can to help them learn that booking direct is the best option.

This is precisely the reason why we developed the BookingDirection price compare widget for hotel websites.

Our innovative price comparison tool encourages website visitors to book direct and helps you turn lookers into bookers.

Our clients see a 41% increase in direct booking on average.

BookingDirection Preview

What should hoteliers do?

Sign up right now to get a free demo of BookingDirection and see how it will affect your direct bookings conversion rate.

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OTAs are outbidding your brand name on Google:

We’ve covered this issue several times, like in our The Ultimate 40-Day Plan to Reduce OTA Commissions and in our article on How to Drive Direct Bookings in 3 Steps.

In a nutshell, go to Google.com and search for your hotel name. If you see an advertisement by an OTA, it means that they are simply stealing away direct bookings from you.

When users search for your hotel brand name, they do it because they have already heard something about your hotel. Maybe they saw a post from you on Facebook, or perhaps an Instagram photo, or maybe one of their friends stayed at your hotel and recommended it to them. So they go on Google to search for your website, but end up on an OTA website. What a shame.

What can hoteliers do?

Run a paid search campaign with Google Ads. It won’t be expensive because you should only bid on your brand name. In this case, you can end up paying even just a few cents per click. Google’s algorithm will recognize your hotel website as the most relevant advert for your brand name keywords and you will easily conquer the 1st position.

For further reading about that, I’d recommend this article by Mirai.

You’re not running retargeting campaigns:

Retargeting campaigns are advertising campaigns that you can on Facebook/Google/YouTube/Twitter and only target people who have earlier visited your website.

When prospects visit your website the first time, they will most likely not book yet. The traveler’s journey towards booking is usually a lengthy process that can take around 45-60 days.

This means that hotels should continue the communication with the prospect even after he/she leaves the site because during the next few days/weeks the booking decision will be made.

Retargeting campaigns aren’t complicated to run, but they require a certain integration between your hotel’s website and advertising platform.

What should hoteliers do?

I’d recommend you explore the retargeting campaigns options in the largest ads platform and see what will be the most suitable option for you, and then start running the campaigns.

Currently, Facebook has the most custom retargeting campaigns option for hotels.

Facebook retargeting

Google/YouTube retargeting

Twitter retargeting


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This is how hotels should use Facebook to grow direct bookings

Facebook is probably the greatest marketing platform for small & medium businesses such as hotels. It has many great marketing products and features such as: Facebook business pages, Facebook ads, Messenger, Groups, Marketplace, Dynamic travel ads, and more.

The technology plays a huge role, and a basic understanding of Facebook’s technology is required to conduct a successful marketing operation on Facebook. However, it is still much more important to understand what the hotel’s overall strategy should be on Facebook. When you understand what should be done, it’s much easier to figure out how to do that technically.

What I am constantly mentioning in my blog posts is that building a marketing funnel is something that will always pay its way to a positive ROI as a mid-term/long-term online strategy for SMBs.

Fortunately, Facebook marketing tools allow hotels to set up a marketing funnel pretty easily.

What you need is to understand the purpose of each of Facebook’s marketing tools, and the role they play within the funnel.

So let’s take a deep dive into the specialization of Facebook’s core marketing and advertising tools and show the way hotels should be using them to build their own independent and sustainable online direct bookings channel.

Facebook Pages

This is a hotel’s core web asset of its Facebook marketing operation. It is basically its ID from Facebook’s point of view on the business. Your hotel will be eligible for all of Facebook’s marketing tools only via its Facebook Business Page. The ads platform, messenger chatbots, retargeting, dynamic travel ads are all available for Facebook Business Page owners.

Besides the official requirement of having a Facebook Page to use other marketing products on Facebook, the business page is also the front of the hotel on Facebook and maybe on the internet in general.

The hotel’s Facebook page must transmit the core values of the hotel to its potential guests who visit the page. It has to have elements of an information desk with important phone numbers, full address and direction, description of the property/properties, amenities list, spectacular images of the pool, restaurant, rooms, etc.

The business page should be one click away from a direct communication with the hotel representative, or at least a direct contact form. Hotels can utilize a Facebook messenger button on the page, or redirect the user to the contact page on its website.

important facebook page setting for hotels

Facebook also allows hotels to present one of the most important contents that can help the customer choose the right hotel, and it’s a “reviews” section.

If you decide to open the option for users to leave reviews on your Facebook page, make sure to take this very seriously and reply to each and every negative comment.

facebook page reviews for hotels

The Facebook page is also the asset that your potential guests will interact with. Therefore, it’s recommended to post regularly (2-4 times per week) to keep a continuous communication with your audience.


Facebook Ads Manager

The Ads Manager is the main tool of the Facebook Ads platform. This is the place where you actually run the ads. The Ads Manager is responsible for the entire ad campaign structure: scheduling, budgeting, creative creation, and performance tracking.

Compared to Google AdWords (Google’s ad platform), the Ads Manager is a pretty intuitive tool, which also helps many hoteliers to independently manage the ads operations and the media buying processes within Facebook.


Facebook Custom Audiences

Okay! So this is where the real magic happens. Facebook Custom Audiences is actually the name of the advanced targeting and retargeting tool within Facebook’s ads platform. This tool allows hoteliers to upload their own prospect lists to Facebook and run ads inside their feeds. It also used to segment different audience lists based on their position in the marketing funnel.

A quick reminder. The marketing funnel consists of 3 main stages: Top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and the bottom of the funnel. Each step represents the distances of a prospect from its final purchase decision.

In order to maximize the functionality of the Custom Audiences tool, there’s a simple process that is required from the hotel to implement. A pixel should be embedded on all pages of the hotel’s website. This pixel is a small piece of code that collects data from users who visit your website in order to help you personalize Facebook ads that you can later serve to them.

So here is an example of how a hotel should use the Custom Audiences feature to segment its marketing funnel.


Top of the funnel audience:

A lookalike audience made of source audiences of Facebook page fans, or its website visitors, or of Facebook users who engaged with the page.

Middle of the funnel audience:

A custom audience of Facebook users who watched your video, or those who engaged with any of your page’s content.

Bottom of the funnel audiences:

A custom retargeting audience of people who visited your hotel’s website and conducted a search for available dates & rooms.

full funnel marketing for hotels


Facebook Messenger

This is the last big marketing product that was released by Facebook, and many marketers around the world rely on this great tool for their acquisition and lead generation campaigns. However, Facebook Messenger is also a great tool for customer service and support, and therefore it can provide a value for hotels that are maybe the most customer service focused businesses in the world.

Facebook messenger should be used to provide guests and potential guests quick answers with the help of a chatbot. The bot can be easily created via several chatbot development programs such as Chatfuel or Maychat.

Check this chatbot of the W Barcelona hotel (make sure to click “Get Started”) to see a clear example of how hotels should use Facebook Messenger chatbot for customer service

Facebook messenger chat bot for hotels


Facebook Dynamic Travel Ads

While this is one of the most advanced and technically challenging marketing products out there, it is fully designed for hotels to use.

It allows the hotel to upload a live inventory file (a catalog) to the Facebook ads platform, and generate automated ads based on personal preferences of those users who visited the hotel’s websites.

For instance, a small hotel chain will be able to not only target Facebook users who searched for available dates on a specific property, but also offer an additional coupon to those prospects who didn’t book. Or even upsell with additional extras to guests who have already booked.


Facebook ads for travel


The main advantage of this ad product is that it’s fully automated, and once an inventory catalog is set along with the ad campaigns, it will run autonomously and present relevant and personalized Facebook ads to all website visitors.



Creating a profitable direct bookings channel that hotels can rely on requires a holistic approach towards the use of Facebook’s marketing products.

On the one hand, it won’t be enough to only run ads campaigns, if the hotels’ Facebook page doesn’t provide the right information and user experience to assist the prospect in overcoming its objections regarding an unknown hotel.

On the other hand, a well-managed and well-constructed Facebook business page still lacks many of the important features that are required to conduct a Full Funnel Marketing strategy and push prospects down the funnel until they make their final purchase decision.

Hotels that use a combined portfolio of several Facebook marketing tools generate the ideal environment for the creation and maintenance of an online direct booking channel.   


Bonus 1

I know how frustrating it can be for hoteliers to search the web for high-quality Facebook marketing resources, and especially ones that are dedicated to hotels. Therefore, I’ve browsed the web and collected all the best resources on Facebook Marketing for hotels, providing a single curated list of resources.

Bonus 2

If you’re already implementing a few online marketing strategies, you have probably noticed that it can be pretty difficult to convert website traffic into direct bookings.

BookingDirection was designed exactly to help solve this pain for hoteliers.

Our innovative price compare widget for hotel websites encourages website visitors to book directly from your hotel’s website, converting lookers into bookers.

Our clients see a 41% increase in direct booking on average.

BookingDirection Preview


We offer a free demo of the product, and we believe it’s worth trying if you’re looking for ways to cut out high OTA commissions by increasing direct bookings on your website.

Sign up here to get the complete list of Facebook Marketing Resources for Hoteliers, and a demo of BookingDirection.

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The Ultimate 40-Day Plan to Reduce OTA Commissions

OTAs are good for you only when you can utilize them in your favor, as a part of a well-conducted distribution and marketing strategy. But you already know it. You know that when OTAs take over, when your revenue is completely dependent on their performance – it’s time for a change; it’s time to take control.

If you don’t control your distribution chain, your rates, your marketing communication and your online performance, or let’s make it simple – every aspect of a prospected revenue generation – then there is absolutely no reason for OTAs not to take advantage of you and squeeze as much out in commissions as they can. With a hand on your heart, you know that this is how the system works, and you probably know several hoteliers that would have acted the same being on the OTA side.

Now, I don’t know if you noticed, but the solutions is in the problem itself. See it now?

Yes. The word is CONTROL. Your control over your distribution, your pricing, your marketing communications, and your online performance. The control you have over these parameters is going to be the variable that will define any future deals between you and even the most powerful OTAs.

So you ask yourself what’s next?

There is some bad news and good news.

The bad news is that there are almost no hacks that can quickly solve your pain.

The good news is that there is a plan that if you’ll follow it, then it’ll get you on the right direction towards a healthy distribution and pricing strategy, and a sustainable direct bookings online channel.

It’s a 40 day plan, and I call it – The BookingDirection Way.

Ready? Let’s Go!

Reduce OTA Commission in 40 Days – Day 1-8

Website audit and online performance analysis:

  1. Find out if your website is optimized for search engine discoverability. If it’s not, you may be not visible to guests who are searching for your hotel by name online when they search of impressions and guest reviews of your hotel. Make sure your meta tags, titles, and images are optimized for search engines. If your website doesn’t show up in the first few results when you search for your brand name, you may have a problem. It’s also recommended to open a Google My Business page to maximize visibility on the search engine results page.
    The Google My Business widget on hotel's search engine results page
  2. Calculate your website conversion rate.
    Bookings on site / Visits to site = Conversion Rate
    If your website conversion rate is less than 1% it means that you have a serious issue with your website booking follow user experience. However, conversion rate above 5% means that you probably have a pretty effective online marketing strategy. Anything in between 1% and 5%, means that you can do much better.
  3. Calculate your marketing ROI (or ROAS). If you run ads online, or have an online marketing budget, calculate the return on that spend.
    Revenue from online marketing – Cost of online marketing  / Cost of online marketing = ROI (or ROAS)
    If your ROI (or ROAS) is negative for a period of more than 3 months, it means that something with your marketing strategy isn’t right, and you should probably rethink it.
  4. Map traffic source. Find out from where you are getting visits to your website. Is it social networks, search engines, meta search websites, or referrals? Compare this to the conversion rate per each channel to understand which channels are worth investing in.
  5. Mobile compatibility. Make sure the mobile experience on your website is the best it can be. While most online bookings happen on desktop devices, the customer journey to booking begins 45 days before, and is mostly conducted on mobile devices. If your website has a bad mobile experience, you won’t be able to convert the prospects that visited your website during their journey towards booking.

Reduce OTA Commission in 40 Days – Days 9-19

Optimize website booking flow and conversion rate:

  1. Most of today’s hotel websites don’t maximize their full conversion potential due to poor user experience throughout the booking flow. Make sure you chose an online booking engine that has a great experience, is mobile compatible, has a secured payment system, is fast and simple to understand. Make several bookings yourself from multiple devices to make sure that the process works smoothly.
  2. Pricing and value-for-money are playing a huge role here. If you can’t beat out OTAs in terms of pricing, then at least make sure that you provide a better value-for-money by offering extras.
    Unfortunately, even if your direct prices are lower that OTAs prices, the online customer won’t always be able to notice that. Therefore, you need to make sure that you can communicate it properly on your site. A great way to achieve that is to use Hotel Price Check Widget. It’s a simple line of code that you put on your website (no booking engine / CRS integration required) and what it does is it shows your potential customers the direct prices on your websites compared to the prices for the same rooms on OTAs’ websites.
    The Booking Direction hotel's price check widget

    Want to see how our price check widget will look like on your website? We’d love to show you, go here to get it to your email.
  3. If you haven’t yet done so, open social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest & Twitter and start posting images of your hotel’s view, amenities, staff, and management on a regular basis. You don’t have to post every day but do try to stay consistent. Why is that important? First of all, potential customers are checking out your social media accounts. One thing they don’t want to see there is an empty garden. Show them that you are alive and kicking, show your smile and your true spirit of adventure. After all, travel is all about experiences.
  4. Consider bidding on your brand name keywords on Google AdWords. If you remember, in the previous part I mentioned that it is important to be visible on the search engine results page for your brand search queries. If your website wasn’t optimized well enough for search engines, it might take time for it to be indexed on the first page. A quick way to get there will be by using Google Ads (called AdWords). You can bid on your hotel name keywords and create a text ad that will show on the top result position every time someone searches for your hotel name on Google. Don’t worry, brand name keyword bidding is usually not expensive.

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Reduce OTA Commission in 40 Days – Days 20-31

Now that your website conversion rate has gotten better, your search engine visibility has improved, and your hotel’s social media presence looks legit, it is a great time to start bringing in more traffic to your website. There are several sources that would be great for hotels:

  1.  Facebook Ads:
    Facebook has an amazing advertising platform. It’s not difficult to operate, you don’t have to pay in advance to start running ads, and a minimum spend is not required. Run Facebook to two sorts of audiences:

    A – People who visited your website. It will require you to install a Facebook Pixel on your website. The pixel sets a cookie on the web browser and later allows you to show Facebook ads to previous website visitors. It’s a very effective way to target potential customers that are already interested in your hotel offers, but who haven’t made a decision yet. If you run an ad with a special offer or a discount coupon code, you will be surprised by the high performance such ads can drive.

    B – New prospects. Try reaching potential customers by targeting Facebook users based on their interests, or even by building Lookalike audiences based on your customer lists. More on Facebook Lookalike audiences – here.
  2. Google AdWords: Google’s ad platform is especially great for capturing potential customers that are now searching for information regarding a product or service.Yes, you are right – it’s very hard to compete with OTAs on the Google ad platform. But there are many opportunities as well. OTAs run ads in bulks. They don’t really pay attention to the long tail keywords campaigns. If your website conversion rate is good, and you know that your direct offers are better than OTAs’ offers, then take the risk and bid on long tail keywords on Google.For instance, let’s say that you are a hotel in London. So bidding on the keyword “hotels in London” may be not effective and expensive. But if your hotel is pet-friendly, why not make sure that when someone is looking for a pet-friendly hotel in London, your ad is the most visible?Hotel's short tail keywords - high bide, expensive traffic
    Hotel long tail keywords - low bids, cheap traffic
  3. Metasearch website:
    Metasearch is a very different kind of online traffic channel compared to Facebook and Google. Metasearch users are usually “Ready-to-buy” users. The most important factor when considering a metasearch campaign is your website conversion rate. Unlike Facebook and Google ads, which you can use to establish your brand by providing useful content with your ads, it’s a different story with metasearch. These users are looking to book, they have already conducted their research regarding their destination and pricing. Therefore, if the booking experience on your website isn’t good enough, they will bounce and probably never remember visiting your hotel brand, as they are only interested in a quick and safe online booking.
    Metasearch campaigns are a little bit more complicated technically. Running a metasearch campaign requires an integration between your booking engine / crs inventory and their ad platform. Metasearch ad platforms are also less flexible than Google or Facebook platforms where you can easily change bids and daily budget. In many metasearch platforms, you will be allowed to change bids and budget only a couple of times per week, making this ad operation riskier for hotels.
    But again, the upside is the great conversion rate and the opportunities to be able almost instantly drive direct bookings.The top metasearch platforms today are: Google hotel ads, Kayak, Trivago & Skyscanner.


Reduce OTA Commission in 40 Days – Days 32-40

After the first 32 days, you should be reaching the point where you have an online direct booking channel that drives bookings. It probably won’t be optimized and your budget won’t yet be spent wisely. To get there you have to go through an optimization of your marketing campaigns and budget.

  1. Choose a metric that will be used to measure the effectiveness of marketing budget spend. It might be ROI (or ROAS), conversion rate or cost per booking. Although ROI (or ROAS) is the definitely the most accurate one, you might find at the beginning the Cost Per Booking metric easier to use for optimization.
    While the ROI (or ROAS) metric takes under consideration the total revenue generated, the Cost Per Booking metric focuses on the ability of each marketing channel/initiative to drive direct bookings. After you’ve mapped the channels that drive the most direct bookings and prioritized them by Cost Per Booking, you’ll be able to optimize each one individually towards a ROI (or ROAS) goal.
  2. Focus on the channels that delivered the best results according to the chosen metric. Try to understand why certain channels worked better than others and use different conversion attribution models to understand how channels affect each other. (More about attribution models – here.)
  3. Based on your findings, set goals and targets for each channel based on its performance. Plan an annual marketing budget that will be performance based per each channel. Invest more in the channels that create the most value for you, but do not completely neglect other channels, as they might have a role of pursuing potential customers across the long path of their journey towards direct booking.


Don’t waste any time. Get started on your plan to reduce OTA commissions and develop a sustainable direct booking channel.

There are 2 extra things that I’d like to send you over by email:


1. A checklist to begin your 40-day plan to reduce OTA commissions.

2. A free demo of BookingDirection hotel price check widget that will help you increase your direct bookings conversion rate.


If you only want to sign up for a free demo, fill your email address in the box below.


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If your hotel’s website is your online channel’s Playing Field, direct bookings are your Touchdowns

Your online channel’s playing field: Websites play a major role in your hotel’s online channel
Online shoppers visit the website when they research for their vacation or business trip, from checking out photos and info about your rooms, amenities, pools, spa, gym to checking out your menus etc.
A well designed and operating website is key in acquiring new online customers.

direct bookings are your touchdowns

direct bookings are your touchdowns

Direct bookings are your touchdowns: At the end of the process you have direct bookings.
An effective website, successfully meeting online shoppers’ needs and wants, is rewarded with direct bookings.

Note: Failure to meet your online shoppers’ needs and wants end up with them either going elsewhere to book: OTAs etc, or worst, booking with another hotel.

direct bookings are your touchdowns

direct bookings are your touchdowns

With Direct Bookings making it to the top 10 initiatives with many hotel chains and independents worldwide for 2015, here are 5 of the most effective methods in making hotel websites meet their online shoppers’ needs and wants:

meet your hotel's website shoppers needs and wants

meet your hotel’s website shoppers needs and wants

1. Develop members and loyalty programs:
Invite online shoppers to enroll in exciting programs available only to members and repeat customers, offering them specials, discounts and free goodies.

2. Provide incentives to shoppers booking direct:
Offer online shoppers exciting incentives if booking Direct from free WiFi, drinks at the bar, breakfast, parking, tickets etc. to earning points toward member programs.

3. Provide a multi lingual experience:
Speak to online shoppers in their language

4. Optimize for Mobile:
If a hotel websites is not optimized for mobile devices, many shoppers will abandon it.

5. Leverage New technology:
Increase direct booking at 41% with BookingDirection. BookingDirection, provides online shoppers the price transparency they need to support their buying process, right on the hotel website, where buying decisions are being made, showing online shoppers the Hotel’s price, side-by-side with the OTAs prices.







Images by:
John Martinez Pavliga
David Reber
Craig Hawkins

Hotelier sees 86% Boost in Direct Bookings with BookingDirection

With Price playing such a major role in Online Hotel Bookings, 85% based on Google research, online shoppers price-shop regularly and seek price comparison data prior to booking hotel accommodations.


Hotelier, would you rather,

1. Provide, live and accurate price comparison data on your website, so they can compare and book direct?
– or –

2. Prefer online shoppers seek this data elsewhere, and take a chance they’ll remember to come back to you to book?


In other words – Hoteliers need not only establish value and be competitively priced in the marketplace, but also make sure online shoppers get price comparison data, conveniently and strategically, right at the point of purchase, at the hotel’s website.



We are tracking the performance of our solution and I wanted to share some numbers for the month of April 2015, as a preview to a case study that will follow soon:


A hotel in Singapore sees , ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?!  86% Boost in Direct Bookings with BookingDirection.


Additional interesting facts:

A. Over $10,000 Saved in Commission payouts to OTAs
B. Online shoppers who interacted with BookingDirection are 2 times more likely to Book.
C. BookingDirection sent 10% of all website shoppers into the Hotel’s booking funnel-pages




How will 86% Boost in Direct Bookings with BookingDirection affect your bottom line?


Launched at Q1 2015 as an answer to a challenge by hoteliers to develop a solution that increases Direct Bookings on hotel website, has since been implemented on both chain and independent hotels worldwide.


BookingDirection, provides online shoppers the price transparency they need to support their buying process, right on the hotel website, where buying decisions are being made, showing online shoppers the Hotel’s price, side-by-side with the OTAs prices.



Hoteliers’ Big Challenge begets a No-Brainer Solution

Last year, on separate calls, a number of hoteliers, who happen to also be clients, shared with us a concern they all had in common, and taking their word for it, many more hoteliers share:

The persistent decrease in margins on their online channel.

One thing led to another as it often does, and before we knew it,  a Challenge followed:


– Develop a solution that can help

ONE: Increase Direct Bookings on our hotel’s website,

TWO: Reduce commission payouts to OTAs in the process.



Mountain Climbing Challenge_Loren Kerns  CROPPED

This challenge put us on fact-finding journey I thought was worth sharing, because my team and I learned some interesting facts about the hotel online booking business, facts many hoteliers I spoke with, have not known prior to our conversation. So here we go,


We learned the cup is half Empty:

A. OTA Commissions keep Rising

The hospitality industry is experiencing shrinking margins on the online channel, due to the persisting increase in OTA commissions.

B. OTAs are the 800Lbs Gorillas in the hospitality online booking space

Increasing dominance of the OTA’s in the online booking space, as a result of mergers, consolidations and steady increase in advertising spend:

Expedia 2014 marketing  spend was $2.8 Billion [Tnooz], up from $2.2 Billion in 2013 [Statista]. Booking.com’s parent company Priceline spent nearly $2.6 Billion in 2014 [Skift] up $1.8 Billion in 2013 [Bloomberg].



We learned it is half Full too:

A. OTAs are introducing your hotel to online shoppers:

Many online shoppers learn about your hotel for the 1st time on an OTA like Expedia, Booking.com etc.

B. Most will visit your website:

52% of online shoppers introduced to your hotel on an OTA, will visit a hotel website [Google research]

C. Vast majority of online shoppers rely on Price as main decision factor 

85% of online shoppers admit price is the main factor influencing their decision on which hotel to pick.[Google research]



Armed with the knowledge that at 85%, Price is the most important decision factor in online hotel bookings we proceeded to check what the leading OTAs have to say about this topic:


Booking.com: “Hotels: Booking.com – Lowest Price Guarantee‎” WELL WE ALL KNOW THIS CLAIM DOESN’T HOLD WATER!

Expedia:“Secure incredible value with Expedia’s Best Price Guarantee” NEITHER DOES THIS CLAIM!


With Rate Parity contingencies enforced by OTAs, prices on OTAs and Hotel websites should be identical. If that is the case, as demanded by OTAs, why do OTAs claim to offer “Lowest Price Guarantee‎”? and  “Best Price Guarantee”? Because they feel they need to Bluff to convince online shoppers to choose them, a resellers, over buying from the source = the hotel website.


Next step was a No-Brainer:

We designed our solution, BookingDirection, providing online shoppers the price transparency they need to support their buying process, right on the hotel website, where buying decisions are being made, showing online shoppers the Hotel’s price, side-by-side with the OTAs prices.


We launched Q1 2015 and are busy helping hoteliers increase Direct Bookings on their websites. Due to the overwhelming demand and positive response, we have a small backlog.  >>> Add your hotel to the implementation queue and we’ll get back to when your turn is up.




Images by: Stròlic Furlàn – Davide Gabino    Loren Kerns 

2 Winning Initiatives for Hoteliers wanting to Increase Direct Bookings

The hotel online booking scene, for Hoteliers is a mixed basket, holding both difficulties and opportunities. In layman’s terms, the following are obvious:


Getting the negative out of the way:
Hoteliers are fighting a losing battle against Internet Savvy and Big spending OTAs and MetaSearches for the attention of online shoppers because:

1. OTAs and MetaSearches buy all the top search results on Google

2. In many cases, online shoppers skip search altogether, starting their shopping journey for a hotel on an OTA or Metasearch website.


How much are OTAs spending on advertising?
Priceline Group increased its advertising spending 34.5 percent to nearly $2.6 billion in 2014 while Expedia Inc.’s 2014 advertising expense jumped 33.3 percent to $1.6 billion [Skift]

         – How many independent Hotels or Hotel chains have such an advertising budget?


Another area where Hoteliers are challenged is shrinking direct bookings originating from call-ins [making online direct bookings more important then ever.]


Focusing on making a Positive impact :
2 Winning Initiatives

Successful Hoteliers go back to basics when it comes to Increasing Direct Booking, by taking initiatives to:


A. Incentivize online shoppers, year-round, to Book Direct by offering loyalty and membership programs, free WiFi, free upgrades, free [and discounted] goodies at the bar, spa or restaurant etc.


B. Leverage new technology solutions, on their website to engage and direct more shoppers to the Direct Booking channel.


Such initiatives help hoteliers cover two bases:
1. Get the word out that the best deals are at the hotel websites [not the OTAs]
2. Turn their customers to loyal followers and repeat customers.


– Which of the above initiatives has your chain, or independent hotel taken in 2015 to Increase Direct Bookings?


BookingDirection’s technology works on your Hotel’s website to Increase Direct bookings by providing online shoppers the OTA web experience and price transparency they have grown to like — e.g. showing them “all” the prices in the marketplace, and proving that the hotel has the lowest price. In so doing, the need to comparison shop is eliminated.


Why pay commissions to OTAs when you can get more direct bookings?


Bottom line, EARN MORE by, increasing the percentage of website shoppers booking directly with you and reduce commission payout to OTA’s.


We’re in closed beta, helping hoteliers to get more direct bookings.

We launched Q1 2015 and are busy helping hoteliers increase Direct Bookings on their websites. Due to the overwhelming demand and positive response, we have a small backlog.  >>> Add your hotel to the implementation queue and we’ll get back to when your turn is up.




Images by: Play Among Friends Paf Richard Masoner

Hoteliers are calling out the OTAs ‘Best Price’ Bluff

Top 2 value propositions OTAs have been selling to shoppers are :He's Bluffing!


1. OTAs offer most variety and options….maybe
2. OTAs offer Best Price….. now that’s a Bluff!


Shoppers, at least for the most part, are NOT aware of Rate parity provisions imposed by OTAs on hoteliers, putting hotels prices across channels, from the hotel’s own website to the OTAs websites in parity, offering hotel accommodation at the Same exact Rate = Price.


Some say Rate parity helps hotels avoid confusion over price points across different distribution channels. That might have been a positive point IF the cost of securing bookings across these channels was similar.


Problem is, with OTAs commissions ranging from 15-22%, their impact on revenue margins makes the OTAs distribution channels very expensive.


Rate parity is indeed an obstacle for a hotel that wants to differentiate between distribution channels, for example favoring a particular channel like Direct Bookings on it’s own website, training shoppers to go there for the best price.


It is not a surprise that one of the hottest topics for Hotel Revenue managers now is, Increasing Direct Bookings on their hotel websites, and relying less on OTA bookings to improve revenue margins.


2 Important facts we know about online Shoppers for hotel accommodations:

A. Price is King: With 85% of travelers surveyed saying that PRICE is the most important factor when determining where to book. [according to a Google research]


B. They [Online Shoppers] are on YOUR website: 52% of shoppers will visit your hotel’s website after seeing you on an OTA [according to a Google research]


How do we make A+B above work for hoteliers: Call the OTAs Best Price Bluff!
We will show those 52% of shoppers that saw your hotel on the OTA a price comparison, proving rates are the same or higher on OTAs [remember Price Parity], removing their motivation to return to the OTAs to book with no savings. Why buy from a distributor or a re-seller when you can buy from the source, when you’re right there, on the hotel’s website, especially if the price is the same?


BookingDirection’s technology works on your Hotel’s website to increase direct bookings by providing online shoppers the OTA web experience and price transparency they have grown to like — e.g. showing them “all” the prices in the marketplace, and proving that the hotel has the lowest price. In so doing, the need to comparison shop is eliminated.

Bottom line, EARN MORE by, increasing the percentage of website shoppers booking directly with you and reduce commission payout to OTA’s.

We’re in closed beta, helping hoteliers to get more direct bookings. Join the waiting list and we’ll contact you once additional hoteliers are added.




Image by: Play Among Friends Paf

OTAs, Friend or Foe? How are They Killing your Direct bookings?

OTAs are dominating online travel booking, in many cases accounting for 76% of hotel bookings online and in some cases a lot more.


In this reality, many hotels rely on OTAs for booking rooms, which raises 2 questions:


What is the cost?
Is there alternative?


-Before answering these questions, for those who don’t know, let’s take a closer look at a some OTA facts:


Booking.com, owned and operated by US based Priceline.
Booking.com offers online accommodation booking. It claims to have over 540,000 properties globally under contract and that it deals with more than 700,000 room nights reservations per day. In 2013, it accounted for more than two thirds of Priceline’s revenue. Booking.com is available in more than 41 languages [Wikipedia]
Some more figures:
Booking.com’s parent Priceline.com, with a US$ 52.79 Billion market cap, has an estimated annual revenue of US $8.5 Billion for 2014 [businessweek.com]
Expedia: with a US$ 10.56 Billion market cap, has an estimated Estimated annual revenue of US $5.7 Billion for 2014 [businessweek.com]
Orbitz, with a US$ 1.01 Billion market cap, has Estimated Estimated annual revenue of US $937 Million for 2014 [businessweek.com]

-Looking at these numbers, it is clear OTAs are highly specialized and effective online booking machines, backed by the financial strength a few hotels posses. Competing head to head with them on online traffic, at least in most cases, would be in the worst case scenario a suicide, otherwise a sum zero game.

Industry Facts:

Most shoppers BEGIN their shopping for hotel accommodations at the OTAs, who happen to control a substantial percentage of travel and hotel traffic online [=fill top search results]
At 85%, PRICE is the most important factor in selecting a hotel.[according to a Google research]
76% of online bookings happen through OTAs leaving only 24% who book directly. [according to a wihp reserch]
52% of shoppers VISIT the Hotel’s website as part of their research, PRIOR to booking [according to a Google research]


Looking at both the OTAs and Industry facts, brings me back to the 2 questions at the top of this post,


Q: What is the cost?

A: OTA’s charge between 15-22% (And sometimes even more) commission for every booking, that translates to a big monthly check hotels cut and send to the likes of Booking.com, Expedia, Orbitz etc.


Q: Is there an alternative?
A: Yes, Get More Direct Bookings
76% of online bookings happen through OTAs however 52% of shoppers will visit your hotel’s website after seeing you on an OTA and before making their reservation elsewhere. Why not stop them on your website and make them buy directly from you? Why pay commissions to OTAs for indirect booking?


BookingDirection’s technology works on your Hotel’s website to increase direct bookings by providing online shoppers the OTA web experience and price transparency they have grown to like — e.g. showing them “all” the prices in the marketplace, and proving that the hotel has the lowest price. In so doing, the need to comparison shop is eliminated.


Bottom line, EARN MORE by, increasing the percentage of website shoppers booking directly with you and reduce commission payout to OTA’s.


We’re in closed beta, helping hoteliers to get more direct bookings. Join the waiting list and we’ll contact you once additional hoteliers are added.

Image by: haley7