Book Direct Day is just around the corner, February 5, 2020! It’s the perfect time to remind your customers about the advantages of booking direct. It may seem like a good idea to let OTAs do all the work for you, but you’ll be missing out on some easy business if that’s where all of your bookings come from. How do you convince customers that booking direct is the better option compared to the ease of using third-party travel agencies, though? Luckily, our guide to Book Direct Day has everything you need to capitalize on one of the biggest days of the year in hotel and vacation rental marketing. Continue reading below, and don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of digital marketing experts if you still have unanswered questions.
WHAT IS BOOK DIRECT DAY?
Online travel agents (OTAs) like Expedia and Priceline are huge competitors in the travel industry. Everyone knows you can book an entire vacation using one of these online services, but it’s not the best way for reasons we outline below. In addition, the average traveler doesn’t even know that they are paying hidden fees. Furthermore, bed and breakfasts, inns, and vacation rental companies end up sharing their commissions with these online giants.
#BookDirect Day, created by TripTease and held once a year in February, is an online movement that brings together the managers and owners of independently owned inns, B&Bs, lodges, boutique hotels, and vacation rentals to spread the word that booking accommodations directly through/with the property has many advantages.
5 Ways to Take Advantage of Book Direct Day
1. CREATE MESSAGING THAT PROMOTES THE BENEFITS OF BOOKING DIRECT
As travelers are dreaming and planning on their buyer’s journey, let them know that by booking direct, they will:
- Get them better rates and exclusive offers
- Take advantage of any “extras” that are only offered to book-direct guests
- Be able to easily add packages or add-ons to their stay
- Have more flexibility and a better booking experience
- Have direct access to the manager/innkeeper who can answer questions about the local area
- Have direct access to manager/innkeeper who can assist those who have special requirements
- Have access to info about specials and offers during non-peak travel times that OTAs won’t have.
2. EXPLAIN WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THEY DON’T BOOK DIRECT
Not only do travelers not save when they use OTAs, they often end up paying more. Make sure your customers are informed about what happens when you don’t book direct.
- Travelers are paying OTAs hidden fees
- They don’t have access to all properties/rooms
- Travelers won’t know about the property’s special offers and savings
- They won’t be able to add packages or add-ons to their stay when booking
- They will have less flexibility with booking dates.
3. HOW CAN YOU SPREAD THE WORD?
- Email – Send out an email campaign explaining the benefits of booking directly. Highlight all of the added value and benefits that guests receive when they book on your website.
- Encourage booking directly on social media using imagery, messaging, and use the hashtag #BookDirect.
- Write blog posts bout booking direct and post them to social channels or in newsletters so your customers will see them.
4. TOUT THE BENEFITS OF BOOKING DIRECTLY ALL.YEAR.LONG
You shouldn’t wait until Book Direct Day to keep your customers informed. Booking direct helps both customers and hotel managers all year long.
Throughout the year, you can:
- Include benefits of booking direct messaging in customer emails, on social media, and in promotional materials
- Target your messaging towards leisure and business travelers
- Create a Rewards Program that allows guests to earn rewards for booking direct, such as a later check-out time or credits after multiple stays.
5. MAKE SURE THAT BOOKING DIRECT IS EASY!
A big reason that people book through the OTAs is convenience: they’ve made booking easy, simple, and reliable on any device. If you want people to book through your website, you need to make it easy for them.
- Is the booking process simple on both desktop and mobile?
- Is your website fast, responsive, and clearly laid-out?
- Are there clear, obvious booking calls to action throughout your website?
- Are common pre-booking questions, such as check-in/check-out times, policies, breakfast availability, etc. answered on your website?
- Is there a clear phone number, email address, and/or contact form on your website for guests who have more questions?
How to Make Sure Your Website Is Perfect For Booking Direct
If you’re really not sure if you’re doing the right things to attract direct bookings, we’re here to help. It’s difficult to run a business and keep track of your website and marketing efforts at the same time. Let us do the work for you. Our team of digital marketing professionals knows all of the trade secrets to help you and your business flourish. But don’t take our word for it. Check out some of our customer success stories if you want to learn more about how we help hotels, bed & breakfasts, and vacation rental companies increase their direct bookings. It’s time to take your business to the next level. Reach out today for a free marketing grader to see where your business can improve its online presence.