We’re going to let you in on a little secret.

The direct versus third-party booking war that’s taken over the hospitality industry is, well, fake. Yes, we know it seems shocking, but there is no war when it comes to bookings.

Every type of booking ultimately benefits your hotel or restaurant if your C-level team implements a smart balanced strategy in which direct and third-party channels work together to drive bookings.

Hospitality executives who understand the elaborate world of online distribution and marketing know how important a strategy for making the most of direct and third-party bookings is.

They assign clear responsibilities and create an action plan for how they are going to maximize each and every booking. A corporate-wide collaborative booking culture requires a direct line from executive decisions to on-the-ground cooperation.

A top-down strategy gives leadership the opportunity to set specific benchmarks and objectives for the percentage of reservations that ideally come through each channel. It should also include employee responsibilities and performance compensation tie-ins.

Staff, especially those working the front desk, should be educated on the strategy with specific tools and scripts that drive awareness of promotions and booking options. Staff must understand the role of each booking so they can truthfully and enthusiastically communicate with guests.

Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi once looked across a room of hoteliers at an Expedia Conference and said, “You guys all criticize me for how much I charge you for guests to come to your hotel. I think you’re looking at it wrong. Look at us as the cheapest source of referrals that you could imagine. If they come through me, you pay me once, and if they come back to me again and again, shame on you. You should make them a loyal customer.”

Customer-facing employees are your greatest asset when it comes to turning third-party bookers into direct bookers and direct bookers into loyalty members.

They must not only understand the hotel’s collaborative booking strategy, but be able to accurately and warmly educate guests on the benefits of each. Hotels looking to drive a book direct-only strategy often offer additional benefits through their reward programs such as possible upgrades, online check-ins, late checkouts or free Wi-Fi.

Face-to-face interaction gives employees the chance to educate guests on the benefits of where they book.

A combination of smart technology that stores customers’ preferences and serves that information to employees in a timely manner, and a well-informed employee that knows how to communicate the benefits of booking direct, are the essentials of a win-win collaborative strategy.

To learn more, download the white paper How Direct & Third-Party Bookings Can Work Together. To learn more about Bookingtek and how we can help your hotel achieve a holistic booking strategy, contact sales@bookingtek.com.