How Hotels Can Boost Direct Bookings Without Discounting
This article from Vertical Booking USA discusses how hotels can boost direct bookings without discounting hotel room prices or offering value-adds that cost money.
Close your eyes and think back to the last time that you were more than satisfied with a hospitality experience – be it at a restaurant or a hotel. What made it such a positive experience for you? If you’re like most people, it’s because the establishment made you feel special, not like just another customer or a number in a long line of bookings. They cared about you, personally, and wanted to show their appreciation for your business and, because of their attention to personal service, it stood out to you as a very positive, noteworthy experience.
That’s the feeling that guests want to have when they leave the hotel they’ve chosen for their trip. In most cases, they’re not looking for the cheapest room, the most luxurious amenities or the hippest vibe; they want to be shown that they are a valued guest at your establishment. The best way to do that is by offering additional value-adds if they book directly. Why? Because it shows them how much you appreciate their business AND it lowers your property’s cost of acquisition (by boosting direct bookings).
This isn’t a new strategy, by any means, but here’s the twist: while value-adds, like airport transfers or free breakfasts, do provide value to the guest and can often be enough for them to decide to book directly, it still means the property’s bottom line is suffering. By offering airport transfer, the property still must pay for a bus or van to transport passengers to and from the airport and for fuel. By offering free breakfast, the property must still purchase the ingredients and pay the staff to cook and serve it to guests.
It doesn’t have to be that way. There is a happy middle ground, where hotels can incentivize guests to book directly WITHOUT undermining their bottom line: by offering value-adds that cost the property NOTHING to implement, but which still have high perceived value to potential guests.
So, instead of offering a discount on the room, free airport transfer or a free breakfast, offer your guests a free room upgrade or complimentary early check-in or late check-out – all of which cost nothing to the hotel, but which guests feel offer more value than a complimentary continental breakfast would.
Many hotels charge up to $25 for an early check-in or late check-out; by offering it as a free perk, most guests will be encouraged to book directly, just to get a few extra hours of sleep.
The same principle applies to a free room upgrade. All guests know that the bigger and more beautiful rooms, or the ones with a better view, have a much higher price-tag than the standard rooms, giving this perk HUGE perceived value for guests. Even though it costs you absolutely nothing (as the room is already sitting empty anyway), this value-add alone can make a significant impact on your direct booking conversion rates.
In terms of guest satisfaction, this shows us that perception really is reality. This type of value-added service will also make it more likely that the guest will book with a property on his next trip (more revenue!) – and it doesn’t undercut profits.