How to Increase Direct Bookings for Hotels

March 26, 2024 Layla. M
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Hotels continuously seek to boost revenue and streamline operations in the competitive hospitality industry. One of the most effective strategies for achieving these goals is increasing direct bookings and working with a property management system. Direct bookings not only lead to higher profitability but also foster stronger guest relationships and reduce dependency on third-party channels.

As an accommodation provider, we understand the challenges and pressures of finding better strategies to enhance your hotel’s profits. With so much paperwork and management bureaucracy, it can be difficult to prioritize a direct booking strategy while communicating with guests and providing invoices and reports.

If you are a hotel owner or manager, you probably know how important Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) can be for your business. They can help you reach a wider audience and increase your bookings. However, relying solely on OTAs can be quite expensive, and you may be looking for a way to balance OTA and direct bookings more effectively. In this case, it may be worth considering alternative strategies that can help you reduce your dependence on OTAs while still maintaining a steady flow of bookings.

In this blog, we’ll explore the value of direct bookings and how you can boost your direct bookings. We’ll cover 10 practical strategies that can help you improve your bottom line by attracting more direct bookings. We also explain how RoomRaccoon’s direct booking process works and why it is the best solution for your hotel. Finally, we delve into a case study of one of our incredible clients and how our hotel booking software enabled them to increase direct bookings.


Understanding the Value of Direct Bookings

woman writing on whiteboard

A direct booking is a guest booking that is completed through your hotel’s custom booking engine. Whereas third-party channels charge you a commission per booking, direct bookings with RoomRaccoon’s booking engine are completely commission-free. The more direct bookings your hotel website garners, the more pure profit you can earn! 

A simple way to boost your bottom line is by offering the most competitive offer for a stay at your property on your booking engine. This will increase the number of direct bookings you accumulate and help you retain 100% of your reservation profit. A high number of direct bookings also indicates that your hotel has great brand awareness since travelers are searching specifically for your accommodation. 


10 Strategies to Increase Direct Bookings

hotels in italy

1. Enhance the UX of your hotel website

Your website is your digital storefront, it should be easy to use and easy on the eyes.  A good website should act as a sales tool to ensure website visitors convert (book a stay). This can be achieved with a clean design and captivating content. 

Some very basic building blocks of good website design include:

  • A legible font for headings and copy
  • Scannable and persuasive content
  • Visuals that enhance your messaging
  • Buttons with a clear call to action

It’s also important that your website is optimized for mobile browsing. With the popularization of smartphones, a large majority of consumers can surf the web, and approximately 80% or more choose mobile phones. Your website should display as effectively on a mobile as it does on a desktop, to ensure the user experience is consistently higher grade. 

2. Implement a simple SEO strategy

Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your website to boost organic website visitors. This is achieved by optimizing your copy with keywords, including alt text on images and ensuring site health is optimal – from a basic standpoint. There’s so much more that can be done to implement SEO effectively, so we recommend using an expert to help build and implement your SEO strategy.

3 Main Benefits of SEO:

  • Increased hotel brand visibility online
  • Attract high-quality traffic with relevant content
  • Cost-effective long-term strategy

3. Optimize your Booking Engine 

Optimizing your booking engine involves several important steps. It’s vital to customize the booking engine’s colors and logo to match your hotel’s branding. This creates a cohesive and professional look that guests can come to know and love. 

Also remember to upload high-quality room photos and detailed descriptions to showcase your accommodations in the best possible way. This can help encourage potential guests to book with you. If you serve an international audience, we recommend offering the booking engine in multiple languages to broaden your reach and appeal to a wider audience. 

As an extra level of convenience, configuring payment conditions to suit your hotel’s needs can streamline the booking process and improve guest satisfaction. This includes options such as pre-payment, full payment, or payment during online check-in. Lastly, it’s essential to pay attention to guest information fields on your PMS’s back-end and customize them by selecting the details you require. This ensures a smooth and efficient booking experience for both guests and staff.

4. Incorporate a variety of rate structures

Having a variety of rate structures improves your hotel’s occupancy and maximizes revenue – when optimized correctly. If your accommodation offers different rate plans, it can help diversify guest types and fit their needs more specifically. The pricing of room rates has become incredibly competitive, even cluttered, with more channels selling rooms online. So, how can you stay ahead? Dynamic pricing is the way to go!

When you optimize your room rates daily or even hourly, you have more opportunities to sell your rooms at the right rate to the right people. A great way to stay on top of your room rates is with revenue management tools. Automated revenue management and yield management ensure your rates are competitive, relevant and profitable. You can start by identifying your hotel’s CompSet and learning more about strategies like yield management.

5. Offer exclusive add-ons for direct bookers

Travelers are always on the lookout for unique and immersive experiences. And a good deal doesn’t hurt either. So when setting up your booking engine, be sure to pay attention to its upselling capabilities. RoomRaccoon’s automated upselling enables a wide variety of add-ons to enhance your guest’s stay. To maintain a competitive advantage, we recommend keeping a few things to yourself – we’ll explain.

You want your booking engine to be the most attractive offer to guests that exists. Consider only offering a few high-value add-ons in your booking engine. This can help encourage direct bookings and create an atmosphere of exclusivity. Looking for some ideas to get you started with upselling? Check out our blog on 9 proven upselling techniques!

6. Offer special discounts & packages

Consumers love a good deal. By offering exclusive discounts and packages on your booking engine, you ensure travelers go to your website first – and seal the deal. A popular technique of ensuring direct bookings is offering a ‘direct booking discount’. This straightforward sales technique rewards users for booking directly and saves your hotel from paying commissions to third parties – it’s a win-win! You can experiment with different discount offers based on seasonality, holidays, or whatever works for your accommodation.

Packages are also a great tool for boosting direct sales. You can create an unforgettable experience with relevant add-ons and wrap it up with a (metaphorical) bow. This can help indecisive guests or new travelers decide how they’ll spend their stay. You’ll also consequently boost your revenue, as guests who opt for packages offer a greater total revenue per available room. New to the mysterious term TrevPAR? Our blog breaks it all down for you here.

7. Utilise Google Hotel Ads

While third-party channels and Online Travel Agencies are great for exposure, ultimately, you should aim to have a majority of direct bookings. Partnering with Google Ads can help hotels maintain direct booking momentum in 2024 and beyond, by shifting visibility to their direct rates. This allows hotels to compete head-on with OTAs, pay fewer commissions, and win more direct business. 

Google Hotel ads are also a cost-effective way to attract more direct bookings due to their acquisition model. Google Hotel Ads operates on a pay-per-stay model, which means that you will only be charged when a guest completes a stay that they booked using your hotel ad. You don’t also don’t have to hire a dedicated ads manager to use RoomRaccoon’s Google Hotel Ads integration, as we take care of the entire setup process. You will receive a bill at the end of each month for the services provided.

8. Use a price comparison  widget

As we’ve discussed, OTAs are great for creating awareness around your accommodation – but did you know you could use their pricing to help boost your direct bookings? Often, travelers know that hotels offer more cost-effective rates on their websites. Many travelers looking for accommodation online use OTAs for their primary research and then switch to the hotel website for a better rate. If you add a price comparison widget, such as Raccoon Price Checker, to your website, you can show your rates on both OTAs and your website. This gives travelers a simple summary of rates offered online, proving that booking directly provides the best value. 

9. Provide secure online payment options

It is absolutely critical to offer secure payment options to potential guests. In the age of information, data is everything. And guests need to know that everything is handled professionally and securely when completing transactions with your hotel or accommodation. RoomRaccoon integrates with a number of payment providers globally and offers an exceptional payment processing solution.

RaccoonPay’s hotel payment software securely captures and stores sensitive data by merging industry-leading security standards with automation to reduce the risk of fraud, identity theft, and illicit activities. Payments can sound intimidating, but with RoomRaccoon, we make it simple. We have a great resource to read if you want to learn more about secure hotel payments.

10. Use personalized communication

Everyone wants to feel special, right? Your guests are no different. With so much of the user journey digitized, a personal touch can feel far removed for your guests. Luckily, with RoomRaccoon, it’s quick and easy to set up personalized communication with guests! With our PMS you can customize emails with your logo and branding – with guest details populated automatically.

When you access reservations in our PMS, all of your guest information is readily available. This lets you get a snapshot of what your guests love and want to avoid. Easily notify guests with personalized communication and make guests feel heard based on the information they provide. Set up specific emails for different dietary requirements, online check-in and special activities.


The Best Direct Booking Experience: RoomRaccoon

woman on laptop

RoomRaccoon provides real-time availability and a seamless 5-step booking process, creating a consistent, personalized brand experience that surpasses OTAs. Below we outline the simple steps guests can take to book directly when your hotel uses RoomRaccoon’s hotel reservation software.

Step 1:

Guests provide their stay dates and the number of guests, detailing adults and/or children categorized by age. This is completed with a user-friendly date picker and a branded booking engine.

Step 2:

Guests can choose from available room options or multiple rooms based on various rate plans. With our booking engine, you can upload your own photos and intriguing captions to help sell your rooms.

Step 3:

Guests have the option to enhance their stay by selecting special add-ons, such as a bottle of wine or a flower bouquet for a personalized experience. This option can be activated when you use our automated upselling feature!

Step 4:

Upon selecting “book now,” guests are securely directed to a payment page to finalize their reservation. For returning guests, the system recognizes them, streamlining the process by auto-filling their details.

Step 5:

Guests receive a personalized confirmation email containing all the necessary details for their upcoming stay. With RoomRaccoon, you can set up custom hotel documents that are communicated to your guests pre-stay. 


How L’Enclume Drives Direct Bookings with RoomRaccoon

L’Enclume, a boutique accommodation based in the United Kingdom, and known for its stellar direct booking performance, faced a challenge: its outdated website journey didn’t reflect its prestigious status. To ensure a seamless guest experience, L’Enclume turned to RoomRaccoon for a solution. L’Enclume revamped its customer journey with the help of our hotel reservation software

With a new website flow seamlessly guiding visitors to the booking engine, the hotel experienced a surge in direct reservations and a remarkable uptick in online booking conversion rates. Moreover, the integration of online check-in further elevated the guest experience, solidifying L’Enclume’s commitment to excellence for their guests.


Leveraging Hotel Management Software to Maximize Direct Bookings 

Direct bookings are of great value to hotels, and their importance cannot be overstated. By effectively utilizing your hotel’s website and booking engine, you can increase profitability while also enhancing guest satisfaction and loyalty. 

With RoomRaccoon, you’ll have the perfect property management system for independent hotels, apartments, lodges, bed & breakfasts and more – we have a solution for every property. Direct bookings provide several benefits, such as eliminating commission fees associated with third-party channels. Each booking made directly through your website generates pure profit for your hotel. Moreover, a high volume of direct bookings indicates strong brand awareness and enables you to oversee the guest experience from start to finish.

RoomRaccoon’s comprehensive hotel front desk software offers a streamlined booking process and personalized guest experience, as demonstrated by the success of boutique accommodation like L’Enclume. By embracing these strategies and utilizing the right tools, hotels can not only boost direct bookings but also elevate their brand and guest satisfaction levels. Ready to boost your direct bookings? 

Book your demo today!

Author Image

Layla. M

A grammatical purist with a love for the written word, Layla is a Content Manager at RoomRaccoon, passionate about producing content that drives results. Her passion extends to everything Layla sets her mind to, such as spearheading social responsibility projects for the community and also exploring the beautiful city of Cape Town.

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