July 1, 2014 • By Dave Spector
It’s so frustrating. It makes hotel marketers want to rip up all their OTA agreements. But it wouldn’t help. The OTAs charge you big fees. And you never feel good about how they represent you. But you can’t seem to break free. You know guests flip back and forth from their websites to yours. Yet when it comes time to book they head back to the OTA to complete the purchase.
Why do guests go back to the OTA to book?Because OTAs do something that is so against every hotelier’s nature, I’m almost afraid to tell you. You will rebel against this idea. You won’t want to do it. But hear me out. This is important.
Unlike you, OTAs love making guests uncomfortable. And to compete, you must make them uncomfortable too.Wait! I know the words “uncomfortable guest” causes a little indigestion. Of course, you want them to have comfortable stays. However, while they’re booking, they should be uncomfortable with their own indecision. That is where OTAs excel, and hoteliers often fail. When you spend your life focusing on comfort, this mind shift is difficult. You know direct booking is best for you and your guest. So, think of it as the little discomfort you cause them upfront that helps them in the end.
3 Tips to Make Guests Uncomfortable(Bet you never thought you’d see that line on a hotel marketing blog)
- Limit their booking page options: Once a traveler reaches your initial booking page, you should start eliminating choice. Remove your menu bar from these pages. Make going through with the booking process the only option. They’ve already made their decision. Encourage them to stick to it (Tambourine CRS, a fast-growing CRS/hotel booking engine, does this well). Expedia uses a popup. After hitting ‘Book’, you have two options: Pay now or Pay at hotel. Orbitz gives you one option: ‘Continue booking’.
- Make it cutthroat: Travelers are doing more than booking rooms on OTAs. They compete with other guests. Booking.com tells the guest who else is looking at the room. Orbitz has a bubble that tells you ‘Two Rooms Left’. This isn’t booking. This is a battle and your hotel website is the frontline. Even if you can’t imagine inundating your guests with pop-ups and brightly colored buttons, add a line to the top of your booking page that states, “While you’re online booking travel plans, it’s likely someone else is too. Our rooms book up quickly. We’d hate for someone else to get your room. Book now to guarantee your spot.”
- Push them to checkout: You advise your guests to checkout on time, so they don’t incur a fee. Consider doing the same when they checkout of your website. Although they may pay the same wherever they book, remind them that they will enjoy more flexibility and better customer service when they book direct. Include the word, ‘Now’ on your booking page. Explain the benefits of booking immediately. Expedia warns guests to “Hurry! Prices and inventory are limited.” You may want to tone it down to match your brand. However, you need to create urgency. Remind your guests that it behooves them to book now.
Are you ready to celebrate your independence?If so, share this post on social media. Let them know you ready to stand up and fight for your guests—even when it’s a bit uncomfortable.
About TambourineTambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 30th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com
Comfort Zone, Creating Urgency, Direct Bookings, Fighting Back Against OTA, Increase Direct Bookings, Making Guests Uncomfortable, OTA, TravelTripper