Most hoteliers see partnering with an OTA as a necessary evil. Listing your hotel’s room inventory on an OTA can indeed reach millions of eyeballs, but not without you having to give up 20-30 percent in commission fees. So what’s a hotel to do when marketing hotels online?
The answer lies in giving travelers a good reason to book direct on your Website, rather than on the OTA. Software Advice, a company that helps hoteliers and other business managers find, research and compare software, surveyed travelers to find out which perks and incentives were most likely to convince people to book directly with your hotel over another site. Here’s what they found:
#1 Incentive: Complimentary Room Upgrade
When surveyed, 48 percent of the travelers said a free guestroom upgrade would make them lean towards booking direct over any other incentive. However, don’t worry about having to give away your executive or president suites. According to survey participants, most were evenly split over which upgrade were best. These upgrade types can include a room with a better view (27 percent), a balcony (22 percent), an upgrade to a suite with a living room (29 percent), or even the addition of a kitchenette (20 percent). Even better, provide your customers with two or three upgrade options to make them customizable.
Top In-Room Incentive: Free Room Service
The top persuasive in-room incentive that can convince someone to skip the OTAs is complimentary room service. About 43 percent of the respondents said free room service would motivate them to book directly with your hotel’s Website and 23 percent said they would choose the free room service amenity over a free room upgrade. Tying in for the second most motivating amenity was complimentary access to snacks and the mini bar and an in-room massage (both at 19 percent), followed by complimentary movies on-demand (16 percent).
After breaking down survey results by gender, Software Advice found more females opted for the complimentary in-room massage, while males preferred the free snacks and mini bar access. Overall, a free meal was the most desired perk across both genders.
Top Onsite Incentive: Free Food and Drinks
When asked which on-site amenity would persuade them to book direct, 55 percent of the participants chose complimentary food and beverages. Though this isn’t new – hotels have been offering free F&B incentives for quite some time – it’s a proven concept that continues to draw direct reservations. Complimentary breakfast, kids-eat-free and most recently, free wine and appetizer happy hours is an easy draw that can tip the scales when a guest when a hotel is choosing to book direct or through an OTA. The second most appealing perk was a complimentary spa package (23 percent). After that, 11 percent of participants touted a complimentary fitness class as a value add that could motive them to skip the OTAs, while 7 percent cited a free tennis or golf reservation.
Top Offsite Incentive: Certificate for an Area Restaurant
For many travelers, especially foodies, discovering a new, local restaurant is a hallmark of their trip. Software Advice’s survey confirms this, showing that 45 percent of the participants said they would be persuaded to book a room directly with a property if they were given a certificate to dine at a well-known restaurant versus any other type of gift card. About 22 percent of the respondents cite complimentary tickets to an event (including plays, conventions, concerts, sporting events) would entice them to book direct, while 19 percent would rather get complimentary tickets to a water park or amusement park. About 11 percent voted for free transportation services.
What Can You Do Now?
It’s clear from their research that hotel guests value complimentary food and drinks over a majority of the other perks, and that they can be more persuaded to book direct with your hotel if you offered them free room service, free F&B at your restaurant or a gift card for a popular area restaurant.
Don’t wait until the guest arrives at your booking engine to announce these perks. Instead, draw attention to them directly on the homepage. Create a call-out or section above your Website fold, so that anyone who was visiting the site – even for a fleeting moment – has a good chance of seeing it.
Written by Junvi Ola.