Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Best Book Direct - Promote Your Own Best Rate on Your Own Site

Ensure Your Customer Knows You Are Offering Guaranteed Best Rate Direct

It is just a simple fact that customer will search third party sites looking for the best deal but that deal is not always about price it can be about value. They will look about and that does mean that very high percentages will find you on the third party site and then open your website for more information. The opportunity to switch sell your booking is being all too often lost. Capture and keep that customer and you can switch that customer to booking direct with you at a lower cost of sale.

The whole thing about generating more Direct Bookings through your own website is about just doing the obvious things.

We've already shown that the Online Travel Agents are bidding for your name in Google Adwords and prominently promoting a "Best Rate Guarantee" and that you need to counter that by asking them to stop, bidding against them for your own name and always making sure that your Page Title also pushes the best rate by booking on the direct and official website.

The consumer is often more discerning and one bad experience on a third party website may be enough to change their behaviour permanently - they will not do this however if your price on your website is more expensive.

Let's look logically at the consumer journey. In fact let's look at your own consumer journey for the last time you booked a hotel away from your own location.

Scenario One

You know the name of the hotel and search for it in Google or you even just search for hotels in Edinburgh

As we discussed on Day Two you will then be confronted with

  • A Paid Advert from usually Booking.com at the top offering Guaranteed Best Rate and Savings
  • A Google Places Map on the right hand side 
  • And the hotel website in the normal listings - it may even say Best Rate Guaranteed Book Direct in its title!
(Note: many of you will never have seen the Google Hotels entry above before - we shall come back to Google Hotel Finder and how it could change the game later in the month)

You are discerning and want best value so you open the top paid listing and are offered the rates for your stay at the chosen hotel or destination. We've all used booking.com or lastminute.com as a search engine looking for what's available and where. At the moment your accommodation website cannot do anything about this other than appearing on these listings (we're not advocating getting rid of them as they can be useful!)

But once your availability comes up and is of interest to the booker it is what the customer does next that gives the operator the chance to take that business back DIRECT.

The discerning or curious customer will invariably check the the property out in more detail by doing a quick search for it. Your hotel is found but it says nothing about best rates it just says  Celtic Links Hotel Edinburgh.

They click on the link and open the official site.

  • They can't find an availability checker in less than three clicks so they give up and close it down or; 
  • They find the availability checker and there is no availability and close it down; 
  • They find availability but the rate is £20 per night more expensive direct and they close it down.

With any of these scenarios, there is just no contest. The hotel website gets a sharp click on the close tab button and the booking is made with the third party and the hotel has lost:
  1. A direct booking
  2. A direct customer (the OTA can now market directly to them the next time)
  3. Profit through high commissions paid to the OTA

Scenario Two - The Switch Sale

And it would have been so simple to switch that sale if the hotel had offered a Best Rate Guarantee of their own, ensured the prices were the same and that added value options were available.
  1. The customer open both sites
  2. On opening the hotel site they are confronted with a bold statement (as in the example on the right) ensuring them that a Direct Booking is the Best Booking. There may even be statement explaining what best Booking Direct actually means to them. (See Day Five)
  3. They click on the booking page and the price is the same but there are also packages that add better value.
  4. They buy the room at the same price but add on the Book Direct Extra
The accommodation has retained a Direct Booking, retained the customer information, reduced the costs of sale and increased the secondary spend.

Does it happen this way? you are the best judge of that. Does it sound familiar in your own bookings history?

Direct Sell by Adding Value

Some of the best converting Bookassist clients will use every opportunity open to sell more rooms direct by adding value to the basic room proposition. Give more whenever you can and ensure that the option to book direct is given more value.
  • Book Direct and Receive Upgrade Offers
  • Book Direct and Receive a voucher towards dinner
  • Book Direct and Receive 20% off your next stay
  • Book Direct and Receive Free admission to a Local Attraction
Remember not all your potential guests are looking for the lowest price and as we all do, we will pay that little bit extra for the service, the extras, the personal touches. 

With Bookassist web booking engine you can add unlimited extras - flowers, champagne, flowers, rounds of golf, gift vouchers - to the booking process even restricting them to specific packages. All of these little extras can help the customer differentiate between booking third party and booking direct.

In the eyes of many OTAs are driving accommodation providers in an ever faster Race to the Bottom and discerning operators need to start adding more value on their own direct business. They provide a distribution channel for your products but it is up to you to ensure that you are managing the balance of that relationship proactively.

It is after all Best to Book Direct!

The Best Book Direct Guide is being produced in conjunction with the on-line marketing team at Plan B and the award winning Bookassist Booking Engine
Email or call 01292 521404.
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