A New Study Reveals what Really Persuades Hotel Guests to Book Direct

pie chart hotel study
Melody Ciria
Melody Ciria
February 27, 2014
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Every hotel marketer can all agree that an independent hotel’s main priority is to persuade travelers to book direct instead of through an OTA or brand site.  One of the biggest challenges hotel marketers continual face is coming up with innovative ways and strategies for enticing travelers to book directly on the hotel’s website.  Although OTAs can bring in additional revenue, hotels suffer from paying the high commission fees for being listed on these sites.  Competitive pricing from OTAs and metasearch engines have made it difficult for vanity sites to drive direct bookings.  However, with  active participation in social media, hotels are able to effectively reach out to potential guest by sparking conversation, building brand awareness, and creating a lasting impression.  Social media is also a great way to expand your reach to a wider audience and advertise any hotel promotions.  Hotels can utilize social media to promote special deals, offers and packages that would convince travelers to book direct. Software Advice, a source for hotel management product guides, recently published a study that reveals the top incentives or perks that hotels can offer to their guests to encourage more direct bookings.  2,500 consumers were surveyed in this study which revealed the following results:

Offering A Free Room Upgrade is the Most Favored Incentive

Of the 2,500 consumers surveyed nearly half of them (48%) chose a room upgrade over all other hotel perks like additional room amenities, room service, free meal, or gift cards.  As far as what kind of room upgrade, 29% of consumers preferred an upgrade to a suite with a living room, 27% preferred a better view, 22% preferred a balcony and 20% preferred an upgrade to a room with a kitchenette.  This kind of information is valuable for hoteliers to know because you can come up with strategies that would appeal to this target audience and invest in a marketing budget that would incorporate promotions about room upgrades.  For instance, hotels can create a landing page of a room upgrade offer directly on the hotel’s website and create a link to this offer on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google +.

Offering Free Room Service is the 2nd Most Favored Incentive

43% of the 2,500 respondents said they would book direct if a hotel offered free room service meal.  Other in-room perks that would persuade someone to book direct is by offering an in-room massage, free on demand movie, and free access to minibar.  These are additional perks you will want to highlight on top of the free room upgrades.  Many hotels already offer a free continental breakfast so go even further by offering a free massage or free spa package.

Offering Off-Site Perks and Gift Cards to Local Businesses

45% of consumers said they would be apt to book direct if the hotel offered a gift card to a local restaurant while 22% said they would prefer to be offered free tickets to an event like a concert, festival or show and 19% would like tickets to a theme park.  Other examples of gift cards you can offer at your hotel include gas card giveaways.  Your hotel can send out an email blast to subscribers with this gas card giveaway when they book direct with your hotel.

Hotels offering these kinds of incentives will give potential guest more reasons to not only stay at your hotel but also to book direct on your website.  Many OTAs may not have the privilege of offering these kinds of perks so why not take advantage of this by offering them on your own website.  Hoteliers should consider applying these motivating factors in their own marketing strategy.  Allow your guest to choose from a variety of incentives as one may not be enough to encourage direct bookings.  Then publicize these offers on your website and social media channels.

Photo courtesy of Software Advice

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