In today’s continually changing travel world, the hospitality industry is evolving once again and showing signs of increased direct bookings. According to research company eMarketer, almost two-thirds of Internet users have researched travel via digital channels in 2013. As hotels are becoming even more marketing-savvy, they have found viable ways to interact with their targeted customers online, resulting in more seamless interactions — and therefore more direct reservations.
Hotel management companies and independent properties have found that fine-tuning their digital activities and encouraging communication with guests (before, during and after their stay), stimulates customers booking future stays directly with the property. And consumers are learning firsthand that dealing directly with a hotel may result in a cost-saving, improved experience. For example, many hotel companies offer special prices, credits and packages (such as free wifi and breakfast) that most third-party websites don’t have in their inventory.
Many hotel companies have also launched mobile apps in recent years, reflective of this shift. According to research company PhoCusWright, mobile bookings will account for 25% of United States online travel sales, driving $40 billion in revenue.
This upswing in direct booking is also supported by hotels taking the lead with their social media efforts, and offering promotional codes through Facebook or Twitter posts, for example.
Hotel website design also affects results, as the savvy properties now offer a more personalized, video-enhanced experience when customers are logged into their official website. A recent 2014 survey conducted by the research corporation Software Advice reports that when researching hotels online, 50% of potential customers prefer watching a hotel’s video on the hotel’s own website, and 68% people say they are more apt to book after watching the hotel’s video that highlights the amenities, services and property.