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By Nikolas Hatz

Save On Commission And Increase Guest Satisfaction

Person booking a room on a laptop

Why should guests book directly? Many hotels have started to offer preferential room rates to members of their loyalty programs. These rates often include a 5 or 10% discount on the regular room rates. Other hotels do not give a discount on room rates but offer other benefits for booking directly, such as free on-site parking, complimentary airport transportation, and food and beverage consumption vouchers. There are, however, still many hotels that do not get the point. When calling to inquire about the benefits of booking directly, these hotels may not know what you are asking for. The math behind the principle is simple: A hotel easily pays 15 to 20% in commissions to third-party booking platforms. Giving only half of this back to customers will still help the hotel save on commissions and make customers happy by offering some additional benefits for booking directly.

Let Guests Choose Their Benefits

Gesture of providing options

Once hotels grasp the importance of offering additional benefits to guests who are booking directly, hotels also need to understand that guests should, whenever possible, choose the respective benefits themselves. Allowing guests to choose their preferred benefits is a form of empowerment—a small level of control shifts towards the guests, and they will appreciate that their choices are important to you. At the same time, preventing guests from choosing their gift can backfire: Offering free on-site parking to guests who arrive by train or taxi, including a complimentary breakfast for guests who depart before breakfast, or offering a bottle of wine to guests who do not drink could all lead to unhappy guests. Better to ask your guests what benefit they prefer than to risk guests receiving unwanted gifts and not seeing any advantage in booking directly with you.

Attentive Employees Can Help

Receptionist hands over an electronic key

Even if your management or marketing and sales department are determined to increase direct sales, you need your employees to help you achieve this goal. Support from frontline staff is key to getting the message across to guests. There are two crucial moments: Before a guest books a stay and when a guest leaves your property. When potential guests call to inquire about prices and availability before they book, encourage them to book directly, and when guests who booked through a third-party check out, employees should highlight the benefits of booking with you directly if they plan to return.

Good relationships with guests help

Couple receives an electronic key from receptionist

Returning customers who are still booking through a third party, should be encouraged to book directly. Given their loyalty towards your brand or property, this customer segment should be more open to your request. All it takes is the necessary communication through your frontline in addition to attractive benefits. Most properties still differentiate between direct bookers and third-party bookers and treat them differently. Do not direct bookers better than third-party bookers. If you want third-party bookers to be open to booking directly through your property for their next stay, they should feel taken care of. A customer who feels taken care of properly will be more willing to grant your request for direct bookings.

An Intercultural Perspective

Welcome greeting gesture from south east asia man at hotel

In some areas of the world, especially in collectivistic cultures, booking through a third party is common practice. Often, third parties even negotiate individual rates with service providers, depending on their market power. Guests who have always booked their travels through a third party are unlikely to change their behavior and book directly with you. Be aware of such booking behavior and of the guests’ cultural background. Do not expect too much when trying to convince such guests to book directly for their next stay, but always try. If you have frontline staff from a guest’s culture on your team, ask them to help you convey the message. Guests might find it more credible when those staff members explain the benefits of booking directly, maybe even in their local language.

Get Professional Advice

Excellent ideaHappy to Help: HatzConsult is entirely at your disposal to help you shift the guests’ booking behavior and get more direct bookings. We can show you how to save on commission payments to third parties while designing attractive benefits for direct bookers. See our complete service offer and contact us for further information and to receive your customized consulting offer.

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