There’s no doubt that direct bookings are the gold standard in the hospitality industry.
Direct bookings offer hospitality businesses an intimate relationship with customers, the opportunity to increase brand loyalty, more control over inventory, the flexibility to quickly fix booking or on-site problems, and no 15 to 25 percent commission rates.
It’d be foolish however to write off third-party booking sites. These popular and potent platforms hold tremendous power and potential when used correctly.
Hospitality industry expert HVS outlined the pros and cons of online travel agencies as follows:
- Exposure & visibility
- Capture Additional Inventory
- Package Rates
- Opaque Rates
- Commissions & Profit Margins
- Rate Parity
- Increased Risk of Inventory Errors
- Does not Promote Brand Loyalty
Throughout the last two decades, third-party booking sites have built immense brands and gained consumer trust. As a result, consumers will typically visit third-party sites to compare prices and options in a certain area or over a certain time period. Online travel agencies, for the moment, have a hold on the market and, as a result, are constantly reaching new customers by presenting properties to bookers who might not have seen them otherwise.
Third-party booking sites are thus a great channel for building brand recognition and driving incremental revenue.
“We actually embrace the OTAs, and leverage their marketing and utilize them as a customer acquisition tool,” Red Lion CEO Greg Mount said at the 2016 NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference.
The value of third-party booking platforms is more evident for smaller hospitality groups who find their loyalty incentives are little competition for online travel agencies’ massive marketing campaigns. Smaller groups can use third-party platforms to market themselves and consider commission fees a fair exchange.
In contrast, larger hospitality groups must balance their reliance on online travel agencies with direct booking channels. The effect of OTA’s 15 to 25 percent commission rates is compounded by the volume of bookings and render the cost-benefits of marketing via third-party channel null.
The good news is that many hotel or restaurant bookers will research options on a third-party website… and then go directly to a hotel or restaurant website for more information and to view images.
This is where the win-win comes in.
Hospitality businesses can optimise their websites with hi-res images, price-check widgets, a well-integrated booking engine, targeted messaging, and a great mobile experience to turn a visit from a third-party site into a booking and a booking into a loyal repeat customer.
Turning a third-party booker into a direct booker is possible and within your reach with the right strategy and tools.
To learn more, download the white paper How Direct & Third-Party Bookings Can Work Together here. To learn more about Bookingtek and how we can help your hotel achieve a holistic booking strategy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.