A Guide to Direct Bookings: How to Increase Direct Hotel Bookings

Lexi DeMers
Lexi DeMers
20 Mar 2024
Two guests making a direct booking at a hotel reception counter.

Updated: 19 Jun 2024

While hotels can receive bookings from a wide array of travel platforms, direct bookings remain the preferred acquisition channel for many business owners. Direct hotel bookings give owners more control and, often, more revenue. However, if you run an independent accommodation-based business, it can be challenging to know where to start.

In this article, we’ll break down the benefits of getting direct bookings and practical ways to increase your hotel’s direct bookings. All it takes is the right tools and strategies. Learn how using high-quality images and offering loyalty rewards can help you get more direct hotel bookings below. 

What Is a Direct Booking? 

A direct booking is a reservation made directly with a business rather than through third-party services like an online travel agency (OTA) or booking agent. Direct bookings can be carried out via an online booking engine, email, messaging, phone calls, or in person. Any booking that does not involve an intermediary or commission payment is a direct hotel booking. 

The Benefits of Getting Direct Hotel Bookings

While online travel portals are easy to use and can be a low-barrier way to increase visibility, their services come at a cost. As such, businesses ranging from hotels to retreats to surf camps can all benefit from taking bookings directly. Read below to learn about some of the top benefits of getting direct hotel bookings. 

Increase Revenue by Eliminating Commissions 

Though listing your property on an OTA is free, the cost of relying on these platforms for bookings can add up quickly. Even the best online travel agencies charge commission fees that can range anywhere from 15% to upwards of 30% on average. As such, focusing on getting direct bookings rather than reservations via third-party platforms can significantly increase your revenue.

Increase direct bookings with a customized booking flow

Better Control Over the Guest Experience

When guests book directly with your business, you have more control over their experience. If they need to make adjustments to their bookings before arrival, guests can connect to your team rather than the large call center of an OTA. Plus, you can easily provide direct bookers with more detailed information to help them prepare for their stay. 

Showcase Your Brand  

When guests book directly on your website or by contacting your team, it is an opportunity to showcase what your company is all about. If they visit your website, you can use your branding and images of your property to give guests a taste of what their stay will be like. And, if they call or message your team, it is an excellent opportunity to show the quality of service you offer. 

Offer a More Pleasant Booking Experience 

Encouraging guests to book directly with your hotel helps you provide a better booking experience than large, impersonal OTAs. With your own customized booking engine, you can control the booking flow, the details you collect, and the choices guests can make about their stay. This improves guest satisfaction right from the start. 

11 Ways to Increase Direct Bookings for Hotels

A girl sitting outside making a direct booking on her laptop.With a few simple tactics, you can encourage potential guests to make bookings directly on your site.

Unfortunately, there is no one surefire way to increase your hotel’s direct bookings. However, there are many different tips and strategies you can implement that, when culminated, drive more bookings to your site. Combining the tips below can help you create a better booking experience and increase direct hotel bookings. 

Build a Great Website

The online travel market was valued at $475 billion in 2022, according to Statista. Even more impressive, that figure is forecasted to double by 2030. With this in mind, businesses in the travel industry today need to have an online presence to remain competitive. But just having a website isn’t enough. If you want direct hotel bookings, you must design an engaging and informational website that promotes your business well.

Add Plenty of Appealing Photos

Showcasing high-quality images of your property on your website is essential for establishing credibility. Having clear and varied images significantly boosts guest confidence, encouraging direct bookings over opting for OTAs. Ensure these images are sharp, well-lit, and reflect the variety of room types and amenities your hotel provides.

Make Sure Guests Can Find You

Having a direct booking site isn’t very useful if potential guests cannot find it. As such, optimizing your website to appear in search engines can help substantially increase your direct bookings. One easy way to do this is to include keywords on your website that potential guests may be searching for. For example, travelers may search for “bed and breakfast Amsterdam” or “surf and stay in Costa Rica.” 

Take Advantage of the Billboard Effect 

The Billboard Effect refers to when a traveler sees your property on one or several OTAs and then searches for your website and books directly with you. Because of this effect, listing your property on a wide range of travel platforms can actually encourage more direct bookings. Of course, you will also receive a number of bookings through the OTAs themselves. But, even if direct bookings are preferred, it is always wise to utilize diverse sales channels. 

Incentivize Guest Loyalty

A simple and great way to encourage guests to book directly with you is to incentivize returning stays. For example, you can give returning guests a 10% discount for booking on your website. This token of appreciation can easily be added to a welcome home email or post-stay survey. 

Provide Add-Ons and Upgrades

With a customized booking system, you can opt to give your guests more control over their stay. If guests book directly at your hotel, you can offer enticing add-ons such as a massage, site tour, yoga class, or meal package. This not only increases your revenue but also leads to more satisfied guests. 

Stay Active on Socials

With today’s prevalence of social media, sites like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are influential across generations. In fact, a report by BusinessDIT sites that 90% of Gen Zers say that social media influences their purchasing choices. And this includes travel decisions. As such, it’s worthwhile for hotels to maintain a presence on social media platforms. Thankfully, this can be easily done by reposting user generated content from guests. 

Create a better booking experience

Offer More Than Just a Night's Stay

When guests come to your site to make a direct booking, you can offer them much more than the rooms they’ll find on OTAs. For example, you can offer a honeymoon package that includes a deluxe sweet, romantic dinner for two, room service breakfast, and a couple’s massage. This can be expanded to full yoga retreat packages, surf and stay packages, and more. Providing guests with the option to book packages that include accommodation and activities enchases value.  

Show Off Your Social Proof

Collecting reviews is a crucial part of driving more direct bookings to your business. Guests feel more confident to book after knowing many others had a satisfactory stay. However, according to SalesCylce, just 22% of guests leave a review on their own. So, you’ll need to put some effort into collecting reviews. Thankfully, that same report found that if you request a review from your guests, then 80% of them will leave a review.

Throw in a Few Perks 

One of the simplest ways to attract customers to any sales channel is to sweeten the deal. To further incentivize guests to book directly rather than with OTAs, you can offer additional perks. Whether it is a free welcome drink, late checkout, or an automatic upgrade when available, giving guests that directly book your hotel an added benefit can help increase reservations. 

Keep the Booking Process Simple

If you want guests to book directly with you rather than a streamlined travel platform, you need to have a user-friendly booking system. It should be simple, quick, and provide all the key details a guest needs to make the right choices. From room selection to the payment form, make sure every step of the booking process is straightforward. 

Increase Direct Hotel Bookings with Bookinglayer 

Bookinglayer is an all-in-one booking system for business that want to sell a combination of accommodations and activies. We offer everything you need to accept bookings, manage reservations, schedule activities, collect guest details, and more. We help you do bookings better, so you have more time to create an exceptional guest experience. 

With our four core software components, you can sell fixed date trips, customized packages, and more. Plus, we also offer a wide range of Advanced Features and third party integrations to help you streamline your business and save more time.

Your business. Your bookings. Your way.

  • Accept bookings 24/7
  • No commission charges
  • Real human support

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