January 28, 2015

The continuing battle for direct hotel bookings


Hotels that are good at driving direct business protect this part of their rooms mix by managing three key pillars, each one critical in enabling a property to drive direct business: visibility, conversion and retention.

It’s widely appreciated and understood that the direct channel – as in your own website – is often the cheapest when compared to 3rd party channels – as in for example online travel agents, GDS or deal sites – and is also potentially the most valuable since you get to strike up the relationship with the client from the outset.

However, it is one thing understanding this fact, it is quite another to implement an effective strategy to ring-fence your hotel’s share of the distribution pie particularly as 3rd party channels are becoming more and more powerful; repeat business is difficult to maintain; and booking patterns amongst consumers are increasingly difficult to predict.

Take Visibility first. Without a comprehensive, on-going SEO effort, your site’s organic rankings will suffer which means you become more and more reliant on (expensive) PPC.

Nowadays most hotels can just about afford to protect their own brand name as OTAs such as Expedia out-gun them spend-wise. And that’s before even attempting to target generic search phrases. It is reckoned in fact that Booking.com for example spends up to half its commission take from each hotel booking it generates on PPC.

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