According to a study by PhocusWright, about 45 per cent of all hotel bookings are done through online channels, with the rest being done through segments like corporate, travel agents or the old-fashioned walk-ins or over a call. If we dig deeper, independent hotels alone get 58 per cent of hotel bookings through OTAs, while chains reported 48 per cent. Although, these numbers point to the dominance of online hotel booking channels, they also show a significant chunk of hotel bookings are coming through offline mediums.
Now rather than pitting one against the other, why not create a healthy mix of online and offline booking channels to maximise profits? Dropping OTAs because they charge commissions or shying away from investing in a great online hotel booking engine can both lead to adverse consequences.
Why is dropping OTAs is a bad idea? OTAs generate amazing exposure for your property. This kind of exposure can otherwise be difficult to generate all by yourself as OTAs have great marketing reach. A Google survey showed that 52 per cent of travellers visit your hotel website after checking them on an OTA, while a WIHP Hotel survey showed 20 per cent of direct bookings were the result of a traveller discovering your hotel on an OTA.
Why should you encourage direct bookings? Studies by Kalibri Labs have shown that your hotel can be around nine to 18 per cent more profitable by focussing on direct bookings. Three aspects that make direct bookings more appealing are:
• Zero commissions
• Low guest acquisition cost
• Direct engagement with guests
But how will you boost your direct bookings? A great online hotel booking engine can go a long way in helping you arrive at the right mix of online and offline booking channels. There are four ‘must haves’ in your online hotel booking engine – for faster and convenient hotel bookings:
• Simple UI – The ideal online hotel booking engine should be easy to use and manoeuvre. It should have all the important elements highlighted and be easy to grasp at the first go. This provides the right work flow and confidence to the user.
• Mobile optimised platform – more than 50 per cent of travellers across the globe, plan their entire itinerary from a smartphone. This is spread across geographical locations and types of traveller. Keeping your hotel website mobile optimised just makes good business sense.
• Safe payment process – with a secure payments gateway in place, chances of confirmed reservation increases multiple folds. Ensure the process of payments is smooth, this instils more confidence in the booker.
• Offer discounts – you can control different kind of packages and discounts that can be offered to the guest. Special offerings like airport pickup/drop, discount on services in restaurants or loyalty points for guests who book directly on the website can be displayed on the website.
Whether yours is a 30 or 300 room property, a powerful cloud hotel management software can unlock new opportunities for your hotel.
Apsara is the marketing and communication manager at Hotelogix. She is a keen follower of the happenings and trends in the hospitality industry.