Next webinar -> June 5th
Guest Loyalty: 5 ways to use it in 2024 to increase direct bookings
Hotel Marketing

Checkmate OTAs: 3 winning strategies to increase direct bookings

As more and more hoteliers struggle to reduce OTA dependency, here are three strategies you can use to accomplish your goal.
Anna Randow
Jul 17, 2023
4 min
Header image

Download it here!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

If you work in hospitality, you are aware that one of the main challenges for hotels relies on reducing their dependency from Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). OTAs are offering guests the best of both worlds: lots of information about properties, pricing comparisons and real guests reviews. 

However, it comes with a price: they charge commission fees that can significantly cut into hotels’ profits, they reduce the amount of data available for the properties and interrupt the direct communication needed to foster loyalty.

Fortunately, there are a few strategies that hoteliers can use to checkmate OTAs and encourage more hotel direct bookings. These strategies will help you boost direct bookings, reduce reliance on OTAs, and increase your hotel’s profitability.

What is the impact of OTAs on hotels?

While OTAs provide hotels with bookings, they also come with a commission fee that hotels have to pay for each reservation. Over time, hotels may become heavily reliant on OTAs for their bookings, leading to a decrease in their direct bookings, a higher cost of distribution and less brand recognition.

It is true that OTAs’ increased visibility helps hotels reach a larger number of potential guests, including those who may not have been aware of the hotel otherwise, however, if hotels become too dependent on them, they won’t strengthen their own channels.

On the other hand, it makes it difficult for hotels to establish direct communication with guests, to develop a loyal customer base and ultimately, to grow their brand awareness.

But, what can you do to increase your direct bookings and reduce your OTA dependency? Take note of these hotel marketing strategies:

Enhance your online presence on social media

Enhancing your hotel’s online presence involves building a community online where you get to showcase unique selling points and values, so potential guests can easily find their next holiday stay. 

Your direct booking channels -a.k.a. hotel website and social media accounts- shouldn’t have the same information as your profile on the OTA, but on the contrary, have richer content, pictures and more that showcase the real value of the hotel and of making direct bookings.

For example, hotels can use social media to post high-quality videos to highlight their services, amenities, location, and history to show their unique value and attract potential guests. You can also post picturesque photos of the surrounding views of the hotel to entice the guests to book their stay. 

Another tactic you can try is using formats of content that are not supported by the OTAs, such as virtual reality, preparing room tours, and videos showcasing your facilities (spa, pool, etc.), among others.

On the other hand, research by HospitalityNet found that more than half of all global hotel bookings are now made on mobile devices, which means hotels need to ensure their booking engine is optimised for mobile and that all content is optimised for this device, so guests can easily spot you.

Optimise website for direct bookings

To really incentivise direct bookings, you should make the booking experience as easy or easier than an OTA. How? By ensuring that the booking process is easy and intuitive, with not many forms or steps, and making sure that all payment options are secure and user-friendly. 

On the other hand, you should optimise your website for SEO. This means, whenever a person is looking for the name of your hotel or hotels in a specific area, your website should rank for this. Even using paid ads will help you to reach the people that are already interested. 

How to optimise your hotel website for search engine visibility? You should aim at optimising page titles and meta descriptions, using keywords strategically throughout the content, creating quality backlinks from other websites with high domain authority, and utilising structured data markup. 

These initiatives can help search engines accurately understand the content on your website. 

Get inspired with this article and learn more about optimising your website for direct bookings.

Strengthen guest relationships and loyalty

Finally, something most hotels overlook is the importance of guest loyalty to increase direct bookings. Remember, by turning your one-time visitors into returning guests, they will also become your ambassadors. And there is nothing more powerful than word of mouth that comes from a satisfied guest. 

Therefore, focus on providing valuable information to your current customers and on nurturing relationships with past customers by keeping them in the loop. 

For your current customers: Don’t stop communicating after the booking is made. Reach out to them with valuable information that can help them to take their stay to the next level, not just by offering services but by discussing local attractions, events, and more. This will create a better impression of your brand. 

You can also invite them to leave a review, provide guest feedback and even to subscribe to your social media channels to stay updated on promotions and relevant information.

For your past customers: You can also use your hotel CRM to create a campaign and retarget guests that haven’t booked in a while. In this way, you invite them to book directly and offer a benefit for it.

Additionally, guest loyalty programs are also key when boosting direct bookings. You can offer perks such as room upgrades, late check-outs, complimentary services, or exclusive discounts for direct bookings as an appreciation for their loyalty.

If you are looking to create a guest loyalty program that highlights the others, take a look at this article: How to Design The Right Guest Loyalty Program: 7 ideas you can use

In short, with the right strategies, hotels can reduce their reliance on online travel agencies (OTAs) and increase profitability through direct bookings, leading not just to higher revenue but also to an enhanced brand reputation. 

If you want to look further into how to increase direct bookings and get more tactics and ideas, download our guide: How to recover direct bookings and stay competitive in the long run 

Follow us on LinkedIn to stay up to date with the new hospitality trends, and subscribe to our newsletter to get more tips and hacks for hotel marketing and operations.

Share this post

Stay Updated with Our Newsletter

Subscribe today to receive resources, invitations and more.