Digital Marketing

The Website Features That Could Win You More Direct Bookings

Direct bookings are the gold standard for most hotels in 2017. It cuts out the third party OTA who eats into your profits, and means that any queries from the guest reach your front desk before they check in. But new research from Barclays has uncovered the fact that your rivals could be wooing customers away from you—just by using a more personalised system.

Hotel reservation system software has got to the point where it’s a key part of the direct bookings system. Guests want to see what they’re getting when they book directly with you, but the Barclays research uncovered that plenty of visitors—66% of domestic and 73% of international guests in fact—wanted to be able to pre-select their room location. A chance to avoid a room near the lifts or just above the late-night bar or with a window looking out onto the smoking area is something that any guest would jump at, so if your rival has such software in place but you haven’t, be prepared to say goodbye to that booking.

Used well, technology like hotel reservation system software can work when it comes to streamlining the visitor experience. If your customers want to avoid interactions when it comes to checking in or out—whether they’re tired and want to avoid unnecessary talk or want to avoid the language barrier—offering them the option to check in with their smartphone can boost your direct bookings. The Barclays study found that this option was particularly popular in China (82%), Saudi Arabia (74%) and the US (67%).

However, missing out the option to have face-to-face interaction entirely can cause some guests to baulk. Overuse of technology without giving your guests a choice in the matter can prove off-putting and can stop guests from building up relationships with your staff that could lead to further direct bookings down the line.

Specifically targeting international visitors may increase direct bookings, but one major takeaway from the Barclays report is that a large number of travellers who are not domestic instead prefer to book via a third party website. Using good hotel reservation system software could potentially help subvert this trend, but another way to entice these visitors to stay with you is by offering comprehensive loyalty programmes.

57% of international visitors surveyed chose membership of a reward or loyalty programme as an important factor in choosing their hotel, whereas only 44% of domestic visitors did. 73% of American visitors said they considered it before choosing where to stay.

Personalisation, however, is still the name of the game. Four in ten UK visitors would pick a hotel if the provider remembered the guest’s previous preferences, and 32% where the guests were known to staff by name. Even in an age where everything seems to be online, the personal touch is still the thing that entices guests to choose your hotel over another.

The rest of the Barclays report is almost required reading for any hotelier. From small boutiques to big chains, we are all there for our guests.