The accommodation industry is an ever-evolving landscape, with new technologies and updated software consistently being released into the market. For years, hoteliers have relied on OTAs to secure the majority of their bookings. Whilst there is no denying that OTAs are an essential part of the accommodation industry, it has never been more important than right now to stand out from your competitors and position yourself at the forefront of consumers’ minds - whilst finding ways to reduce expenses.
OTAs provide a wider audience reach and help an independent property be seen by consumers all over the world. However, hoteliers are realising the financial benefits of driving direct bookings through their personalised booking engines. Direct bookings are becoming that favourable, that a recent study by Phocuswright predicted that by 2022 bookings would be shared evenly between OTAs and direct booking engines. Without an effective booking engine, you won't receive your predicted share of direct bookings and your share of overall bookings will be heavily reduced. If this prediction rings true and you don't have a booking engine, your bottom line will suffer.
To keep up with the ever-changing landscape of the accommodation industry, your property must have a booking engine. A booking engine should showcase your property’s brand and quality, whilst being easy and efficient to use. A key feature the booking engine should include is, Google Map, it’s perfect for multi and single properties, providing potential guests with your exact location. By implementing a high functioning booking engine into your property, you are not only reducing costs on commission fees, but gaining the data, trust, and loyalty from your guests.
Unfortunately, it is not as simple as just offering the option of direct booking to guests. Guests want to know this is the best way for them to book. The way to prove this to your potential guest is by using a rate comparison tool. The rate comparison tool showcases your rate as the best in market which will appear when a customer searches for availability on your booking engine. The inbuilt tool will then read the rates from the popular OTAs your property is listed on and display those rates in real-time next to your rate. This tool optimises your own-channel conversion, and by offering slightly cheaper rates guests can see the benefits of booking directly. This deceptively simple tool can be what turns a ‘looker into a booker’ as it gives your brand transparency and reassures customers that they are getting the best deal.
You now understand why a booking engine is important, but HOW can you drive customers to book direct? For this to be considered by guests, a good website with decent photography is essential. Your website is your chance to show off the best parts of the property and paint a picture to customers about their stay. Investing in your own website can increase organic traffic and ensure that your property is easily found by guests searching in that area. Search Engine Optimising can be utilized to ensure your website will appear for the most relevant, commonly searched, and valuable search terms.
Did you know that people often leave a web page within 10-20 seconds unless their attention has been captured by clean, fresh, and accurate images? A good website with decent photography might seem like an expensive upfront cost, but it will help secure bookings and last for years.
If you have been relying on the OTAs to secure your bookings, it is time to think about investing in your own booking engine. Own your guest's data, minimise costly commissions, and put your property into the consumer's search bar.