When we say “direct bookings or hotel bookings” it automatically brings the OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) into the picture. Even though working with an OTA is very beneficial for any hotel, it is very obvious that the relationship between hotels and OTAs is stormy, to say the least. It’s a symbiotic relationship, which means it has advantages for both parties but let’s face it: while hotels are the ones doing the hard work; mostly OTAs get the credit.
Even though it is not realistic to take the OTAs out of the picture; there are ways for hotels to not being fully dependent on OTAs and digitally represent themselves. And if something needs to done “digitally” it needs to be achieved using the latest technology.
We will take a sneak peek to achieve this through the following topics:
– Be there with your guests in all booking processes
– Offer a personalized experience
– Use Technology to Increase Workforce Efficiency
– Provide User-Friendly Technology
– Keep in touch with your guests after their stay
And finally how these elements factor in the increase of direct bookings?
While all these sub-topics deserve their respective comprehensive articles, one shouldn’t be intimidated by the general context, and you’ll see why, when we wrap it all up.
1- Be There with your Guests in All Booking Processes
The process of a booking is divided into many sub-processes starting at the instance the idea or longing for going on holiday blossoms in the mind of a person, or the need for accommodation for a business trip emerges. OTAs are doing their best to be involved in this process from the very beginning; so why shouldn’t you?
You need a very simple but consistent and trustworthy digital footprint. Which means that you need a website with a booking engine, a mobile app that is consistent with your website and an efficient way to contact your potential -or recurring- guests without irritating them. Luckily there are ways to achieve these solutions without the hassle of building it on your own or paying high commissions.
This way you cannot only get involved when they decide to go on a holiday, but you can spark the idea of going on a holiday in their minds.
Your hotel is probably unique and also the location and surroundings of your hotel have something unique to offer, too. Be creative, think outside the box, analyze your guests’ behaviour, mix that data with what you can offer and try to attract them in a way that will fascinate them.
2- Offer A Personalized Experience
Offering a personalized experience can be a bit tricky. Every guest expects to be taken care of and hosted well to some extent. Everybody might enjoy opening their hotel rooms doors via an app, but there is a matter of personal space. Some people expect the staff to be all around them, asking if they need anything or checking if everything is perfect frequently; while some guests like some solitude- like millennials.
It is hard to understand who prefers what at the very beginning. But when you offer your guests a platform where they could examine their options and choose whatever interests them, they could personalize their experience. Such a platform would also spare you from effort and costs; because you wouldn’t need brochures, flyers, guides or representatives to make sure the guests are informed. Guests can be informed about everything you have to offer with a couple of taps and that’s it!
Don’t ever forget: You are not renting just a room. You are selling an experience from start to end, so make sure it caters for every need.
3. Use Technology to Increase Workforce Efficiency
Let’s go over a scenario for this one: Let’s say you have a big hotel with some facilities and rooms. You’ll probably have many maintenance issues, and some of the staff rushing over to handle the same problem while they are needed elsewhere. Or maybe you have a small hotel that has fewer employees, which handles a wide variety of tasks.
So what do you do? When you use simple yet smart platforms and let your guests report issues or make requests, your workforce will be spread efficiently and seamlessly in the back-end. And what else would increase the guest satisfaction faster than a responsive staff that gets things done?
4. Provide User-Friendly Technology
Everyone talks about how hotels can attract millennials. Although they are one of the most important generations that the hotels need to focus on, they are not the only ones around. You may have guests and employees of all ages. And there is the possibility of going overly futuristic and provide a poor UX (User Experience). So you should keep the technology you use efficient, user-friendly, and simple. And by user-friendly, we mean all users including you and your staff too. What’s the point of having a hotel app if your guests and employees won’t be able to use it?
5. Keep in Touch with your Guests After their Stay
Remember the first sub-topic of the article? The process of a booking involves many levels. And a hotel can remind itself or reach out to the guests -or potential guests- in these levels through many channels.
While hoteliers are mulling over how they should attract new guests and convert existing guests to recurring ones, it may be helpful to keep in mind what we said before: You are not just renting a room; you are selling an experience. People associate experiences with memories and connect those memories people and places. You should make sure that your hotel is one of those places. And try your best to make sure those memories are associated with positive experiences.
Misfortunes always happen. There will always be a leaking tap or a malfunctioning air conditioner. As long as you are there as soon as possible when needed, people usually tend to remember positive memories. You should rely on those memories to make them come back and make the new guests come. If a hotel succeeds in this regard, your guests will advertise your hotel for you.
At WeBee, we provide flawless and end-to-end guest engagement solution for hotels; covering all the stages of a guest journey. If you want to learn more about how WeBee can boost your guest engagement, click here