For self-catering holiday homes, there’s really nothing better than direct bookings. These bookings are the most beneficial in terms of generating revenue, because they do not require you to pay a commission to an online travel agent/service.
They also are a direct return on your investment in your own marketing strategy.
While you can’t rely solely on direct bookings, these tips can help you increase the number of direct bookings that you receive at your property.
1. Create a user-friendly website
Your website should include key elements such as high-resolution photographs, short booking forms and a simple “Book Now” button that captures the attention of your target audience. Beyond that, it needs to have a responsive design that allows both desktop and mobile users to easily navigate the content on the page.
2. Hire an Online Booking Marketer
An Online Booking Marketer is well versed in driving direct bookings. Aside from getting your property listed on more than 160 travel websites worldwide, they can also offer photography, aerial drone photography, and social media marketing services as well. The majority of travellers today prefer to book their stays online, which means that you will lose a significant number of bookings without an effective Online Booking Marketer.
3. Design a rewards program that improves customer loyalty
This is an ideal tactic for transforming a customer that came through another distribution channel into a direct booking. For example, a customer who first booked a room at your home through an Online Travel Agent may be pleased with your rewards program, and book directly on your website the next time.
4. Invest in content marketing to increase your visibility online
Fresh, valuable and accurate content is necessary to maintaining your top rankings on a search engine’s results page.
5. Interact with and engage your guests on social media
Create contests, post videos and respond to comments that are left on your page. Don’t forget to incorporate online booking into your social networking profiles, as this is another way you can drive direct bookings via the likes of Facebook.
6. Offer a discount to customers who call you or visit your property to finalize their reservation
It’s not uncommon for travellers to use Online Travel Agents and visitor information centres to get basic information about local attractions in your town. However, they may contact you directly with follow-up questions. Consider offering a discount to these customers to entice them to book immediately with you.
7. Encourage guests to leave feedback online
Online review sites are one of the most powerful ways to promote your brand online, particularly if you frequently receive positive feedback. Solicit online reviews from your guests after they have stayed at your property, and be sure to remain active on the most popular review sites. Many travellers will read these reviews, as well as your responses, and are likely to book direct if they like what they see.
8. Be available for your guests at every stage of their online booking journey
Encourage direct bookings by making it easy for guests to contact you. Provide all contact information, including phone number, email and text messaging number.
Increasing your direct bookings should be a priority within your online distribution strategy, as this allows you to increase the revenue that you earn and continue to expand the services and products that you offer at your property.