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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.

 

>>> GET STARTED

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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

 

 

…Question?

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.

 >>> GET STARTED

 

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.

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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?

 

Solution:
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.

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Images by: Play Among Friends Paf Richard Masoner