10 Ways To Increase Your Hotel’s Direct Bookings

When it comes to increasing your hotel’s direct bookings, things can get a little tricky, and there are hundreds of tactics you could try. However, for this article, we are going to go over 10 ideas you should try first.

These are some ideas that some of the top hospitality brands are using around the world to increase the number of travelers booking directly through their hotel.

I realize that increasing your hotel bookings can be somewhat tedious and time-consuming; however, with these tips, perhaps the journey will be slightly easier to handle. At least, that’s my hope. How about we get started, shall we?

Make Your Hotel’s Website More User-Friendly

We live in the digital age of technology. Every year, more and more advanced technologies emerge to provide convenience to our lives. As such, we often need to change and adapt our approach to customers, and that includes how we deliver our services and experiences to our customers.

As such, for our first suggestion to make, we suggest reexamining how your hotel’s website is structured, and perhaps change it to better accommodate mobile and tablet users.

Additionally, not only are people on their phones more frequently than ever before, but they are also on the move. As such, making sure your website is mobile/tablet-friendly is one of the first suggestions I would offer to increase bookings at your hotel.

You should also consider the accessibility of your website. This means your website is designed and developed in such a way that those with disabilities can still use them; easily learning about your hotel, navigating through your site, and, ultimately, booking their stay with you.

Leverage Social Media For Advertisement and Hotel Bookings

Social media is one of the biggest and most lucrative forms of advertisement to have blossomed within the last decade. Even as I write this, millions upon millions of people flock to websites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter every day.

As such, traditional advertising is slowly dying out in terms of profitability and reliability. Why pay thousands, if not millions of dollars for expensive TV ads and booking times when it can be far cheaper to advertise your hotel business through various social media websites.

Why pay thousands, if not millions of dollars for expensive TV ads and booking times when it can be far cheaper to advertise your hotel business through various social media websites.

Not only is social media advertising less expensive, but it offers an easy way for customers to directly interact with your hotel brand through a medium that is most familiar to them. In addition to this, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have massive audiences already built into the platforms, and people are more innately tied to these forms of communication now than ever before.

In my experience, people are willing to talk and interact with companies through social media accounts than any other types of communication because social media has become so user-friendly and simple to use. Because of this, enabling social media users to book directly via sites like Facebook might not be a bad addition to include, as well.

It’s no coincidence that I put this tactic alongside updates to your website; they are almost married to each other. If you can communicate with the modern-day patron through social media platforms, and have a wonderful and easy-to-use website for them to explore, you will certainly increase your direct booking rates.

Test Your Hotel’s Booking Process Yourself

Another idea to help raise your direct booking rates for your hotel is to check and see how smoothly the process is for your website. Test it yourself! Humans like it when things are simple and easy for them to handle; it is why most sites have a one-click purchase option now.

Humans like it when things are simple and easy for them to handle

As such, I know when I want to book a hotel, the last thing I want to see is menus and menus of tabs and rows going to different sites and or parts of the website. I cannot stress how annoying and frustrated I get when it takes me seemingly forever to make my hotel reservations after deciding on what hotel/brand I want to stay at for a trip.

I recommend reevaluating the process in which people have to go through to book their lodgings at your hotel. Maybe count the number of clicks the average customer needs to go through to secure their reservations, and then perhaps find a way to automate or lessen the amount of time it takes to see a reservation confirmation screen.

User Reviews, I Cannot Stress This One Enough, Allow Reviews

As much as we all fear the idea of people leaving a bad review on Yelp and dealing with the hassles of reputation management, it shows a lot about your character and as a company if you allow customers to leave direct reviews on your site. I cannot stress this one enough. That alone can mean a lot to customers.

Additionally, it not only shows a lot on your character if you have a means of letting people leave reviews on your website. It also means you have a direct method of gauging how people are taking to your hotel(s) right on the spot – saving them the time and energy of searching for that on other websites or listings.

Also, by allowing people to leave reviews on your website you have a means of showcasing real positive comments for other customers to see; meaning people visiting your site are more likely to give your business the time of day because they can see that other real people enjoyed staying with you.

Finally, when you allow customers to leave reviews, this opens the door for them to leave valued compliments and criticism that every business needs. That criticism will be important, especially leading into the next section regarding the handling of grievances.

Address and Remove Previous Customers Grievances

Another benefit that can come from on-site user reviews is finding out what it is that they did not like about your hotel, thus not only do they feel validated in letting you know what they may or may not like about your hotel, but it also gives you more concrete information on both them and your business. Just this simple addition can help boost your direct booking rates.

By tackling customers grievances, you help show not only to them but to all of your customers that you are not only willing to hear what they have to say about your business but also directly tend to those problems if necessary. People like to feel like their opinions matter giving them, yes sometimes their ideas can hurt to hear, especially when it comes to your business; but often their views and criticisms may be valid and worth evaluating.

People like to feel like their opinions matter giving them

By having a place where they can air out their grievances, such as a review or comment section, not only can they feel validated in leaving behind often just criticism about their experience at the hotel, they can then feel satisfied when their grievances are handled properly. Moreover, by seeing you handle their negative complaints with your hotel, (whatever that might be), this could encourage them to return for a night or two, maybe even with their friends and family.

At the end of the day, customer feedback is important and necessary. Embrace it, value it, address it, and move forward.

Make Your Hotel Sound and Appear Unique

Another idea I feel I should mention is something that I think every business owner tries to do with their business, and that is making it sound and look unique in comparison to the competitor down the street. This isn’t always easy, especially if you are working in an already over-saturated market. However, there are a number of things you can do to improve your position in the market.

One idea I have to share is to reward your customers for their patronage, perhaps give them discounts on future bookings and services due to their continued support to your place of business. Alternatively, another idea to offer VIP rewards for continued support, like discounts on hotel amenities.

There are ways to reward your customers for their continued support and dedication to your organization. Another idea I have is to allow individuals the luxury of bringing their dogs or cats with them via unique rooms or upscaled cost. Pet owners always appreciate it when hotels allow them to bring their pets with them.

I am positive there are more ways to make your hotel appear unique and offer tremendous value to your customers, so perhaps find those methods out there. Finding and providing those services to your patrons can be a tried-and-true way to increase your direct booking rates.

Focus On What You Can Offer Over Your Competitors

This ties back to the previous section on focusing on what you can offer your customers over your competition. Another way to entice people to spend their holidays at your hotel is via the location and the unique and singular properties it may be privy too over other sites.

For example, are you near a park or heavily trafficked area like a plaza? Then advertise that as a selling point, people like convenience, especially when traveling and on the road. So, if they know, they will be shopping or adventuring in an area, being there as a hotel can be a luxury for them, especially if they are traveling or passing by through parts unknown.

Let people know that after a long day of shopping and adventure that they have a nice cozy hotel room waiting for them not a mile away from them. Alternatively, maybe your hotel was once a historical landmark or site, and it has some artifacts dating back to an era long since past.

In all honesty, it took me a long time to learn why location matters when it comes to starting a business, and this is one of the reasons why. If you have any definite reason to advertise your particular hotel (especially if you are a small brand), then use it, my friends.

Make Sure Your Staff and Employees Are Happy and Content

Okay, the next topic I feel we should discuss is the overall happiness of your employees and why this ties directly into potential bookings for your hotel. Now, I am confident this is one of the first things that managers and business owners have to think about always when running a business, but it would be wrong of me not to make it a section onto itself.

When working in the service industry, especially with hotels, you want to make sure your guests are happy and content, that is how we get those fun five-star ratings on Yelp and other review sites. As such, making sure your staff is actually genuinely happy to be there clocking in those long hours, and not just tapping their foot against the ground trying to wait out the clock.

Additionally, by making sure your employees are happy, this will translate into your patrons being happy as well, mostly due to the fact that they are getting tremendous value from the service of your employees. Moreover, this has many benefits onto itself as we can see.

Furthermore, by allowing the word to spread about your fair treatment of your employees (and their terrific service towards their guests), that can potentially entice guests to book with your hotel as a result. So, it is a win-win situation when it comes to this topic. Your employees are your lifeblood, after all, so treating them right will in return, treat your guests right.

Your employees are your lifeblood.

Ensure Your Hotel’s Website is Easily Found and Relevant

Through all of these additions and suggestions, there are plenty of ways of not only improving your image in the eyes of the public but also improve your chances of increasing your direct booking rates in comparison to your competitors around the state and or country.

Consider hiring an SEO specialist who is capable of understanding the search algorithms of search engines such as Google. Someone who knows the exact methods of getting more people to visit your website.

SEO specialists are the individuals you want when it comes to not only figuring out how your website will work but also provide general tips and tricks on getting people to discover your website, book a room, and then, of course, visit your hotel.

Understand That It Takes Time

As much as we may hate hearing that words “patience” and “determination,” seeing success and growth is not a one-night ordeal. It is not something that will happen immediately, especially when it comes to trying to increase your direct hotel booking rate in comparison to your other competitors.

However, it can happen with time and effort. All I can hope for is that this shortlist has provided some methods to help you achieve your ultimate goals when it comes to your hotel.

Conclusion

With that said, there are countless tactics and approaches you could use to increase your hotel’s direct booking rate. It’s up to you to find out which work best for your property. I hope this short article provided some tips and tricks on growing your hotel’s booking rates, and in return, bring even more lovely patrons to your place of business.

6 Biggest Revenue Management Mistakes That Hotels Make

Operating a hotel is no easy task; managing staff and schedules, staying on top of the latest technology and trends, keeping up with maintenance and renovations; not to mention ensuring your guests are happy and working long irregular hours. It’s a lot.

One of the most challenging aspects of running a hotel is revenue management. Hotel revenue management is something that often confuses or overwhelms people, and for many hoteliers, it’s something they don’t even attempt. However, even some small adjustments can go a long way.

In this article, we get a glimpse into the world of hotel revenue management by one of the best revenue management experts out there, Mr. Chris Hunter of hotelrevenueman.com.

Chris began his career in tourism and has years of hotel management experience under his belt. Throughout that time, he developed a system to help hoteliers find the demand curve for any property – allowing them to know when to raise or lower rates. With his special focus in the hospitality industry, his clients are regularly seeing increased annual profits of upwards of 30% using his hotel revenue management strategies.

Chris is also one of our hotel consulting partners. So lucky for us, this means we’re able to pick his brain and share his knowledge with you. Here’s Chris’ list of the Top 6 Biggest Revenue Management Mistakes That Hotels Make. We hope you enjoy.

6. They Don’t Even Try

“Not changing your rates daily based on demand is a big mistake and I’ll show you why.

There’s a hotel in one of my client’s cities that has the same rate everyday: $63. During the week this is too high which causes guests to stay elsewhere. During the weekend it’s too cheap which causes them to sell out quickly. It feels good to be sold out a week ahead of time, but they could raise their rate to $80 and still sell out. They’re leaving $17 per room on the table and for a hundred room hotel that’s $1,700 a day and $3,400 per weekend. Multiply that by the 13 weeks of summer and they’re missing out on tens of thousands of dollars!”

5. They Sell Out Before the Day of Arrival

“In theory, perfect revenue management works like this: you sell your last room at 11:59 pm on the day of arrival. In reality, you want to have at least a handful of rooms to sell throughout the day of arrival.

The demand curve continually increases with the day of arrival having the highest demand and commanding the highest rate. If you sell out before the day of highest demand it means that your rooms were too cheap and you left money on the table.”

4. They Price All of Their Rooms the Same

“One of my clients reached out to me asking me to help him increase revenue at his property. He had a two story, horseshoe-shaped property with exterior entrances to the rooms and no elevator. At the center of the property was a pool and on the outside was a parking lot. He told me that everyone wants to stay on the poolside.

I asked him how much more it costs to stay on that side, and he told me all the rooms are priced the same.

I assumed people preferred the ground floor so they could skip the stair climb and told me I was right. I told him to take his current rate and make that his discount rate, then build from there. Add $5 for poolside and $5 for the ground floor. So, a ground level (+$5), poolside (+$5) room will cost $10 more per night than an upstairs, parking lot view room. This property instantly found revenue they had been leaving on the table.”

3. They Don’t Go Low Enough During Times of Low-Demand

“Typically, in a tourism destination, Sunday is the biggest checkout day of the week leaving Sunday night with the lowest demand.

Each day of the week the demand slightly increases to the weekend (Friday/Saturday night). With demand being low during the beginning of the week and the city being full of rooms to sell, leaving your rates as high as they were during the weekend is a mistake.

I figured this out, lowered rates for my clients during times of low demand and stole market share. One of the OTAs (Online Travel Agencies or websites that resell hotel rooms like Booking.com or Expedia) reached out to me at the end of a season and told me that in one of my client’s markets only one other hotelier figured this out.”

2. They Don’t Look Far Enough Into the Future

“The majority of hotel bookings come two weeks prior to arrival. If you only get the last two weeks right your property will still probably do pretty well.

But, if you look further into the future you will be able to spot potential problems and fix them before they cost you thousands of dollars. Right now I help my clients manage about a month out, but I also take the opportunity to quickly scan data for three months out.

Recently I saw that one of my clients had a holiday weekend about three months out priced too low and I encouraged him to increase the rate by 50% to an appropriate rate. A few guests who were planning that far ahead found that deal and had already booked rooms, but that was much better than having half of the hotel sold at a discount rate.

Concentrate the majority of your efforts on the approaching week, two weeks and month, but don’t forget to at least glance into the future to see if anything stands out as being a possible issue.”

1. They Don’t Go High Enough During Times of High Demand

“This is EASILY the biggest mistake I see hoteliers make.

Right now stop reading this, open google docs, and type out the 10 busiest times of the year in your market.

I’ll give you a head start: Holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day, summer weekends, special events like the annual car show or strawberry festival.

Now, look at your list. Your rooms are not priced high enough during those times.

Look at last year’s occupancy. Every day that your property was 100% occupied (or really close like 95%) is a time where you could have gotten more money for your rooms.

I had an out of state client that had been on Hotel Impossible. A year later he found my revenue management videos on youtube and asked if I could help him. He had bad reviews and no money to fix issues. I taught him this principle and asked him for the dates where demand was so high that it was likely that the entire city would sell out.

I then taught his GM my system for tracking demand. We ended up raising rates to almost double the previous year’s rates during those times of high demand. His busiest month saw a revenue increase of 47.2%, his busiest quarter was up $171,000, and his revenue increased 24% for the whole year.

Raising rates feels scary, but I want to challenge you to at least start taking baby steps even if that means raising only $5. When you see that work, then look at the next time of high demand and try $10. Each time it works successfully you’ll gain the courage you need to make bigger, necessary adjustments in the future.”

In Closing

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the knowledge that Chris has regarding revenue management. And as you can see, revenue management is something that could be a game changer for your hotel. The potential upside is huge, and the amount of risk is low. But, you’ll likely need some help along the way.

Bottom line… the successful implementation of revenue management strategies for your hotel could help you experience more predictability and profitability.

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