At our latest Hotel Digital Lab edition on June 6 in London, Francis Louis Passerini of hotel digital solutions provider Fastbooking asked the audience what percentage of their bookings was through OTAs. ‘Seventy per cent,’ replied one delegate. Passerini suggested five rules to increase direct sales:
One, attract customers – ‘If you are not on the right-hand side of the first page of Google Search with the picture of your hotel, map and with direct price of your website, you are going to give your reservations to OTAs,’ he warned.
Two, monitor your conversion rate carefully (in independent brands and chains, the average conversion rate is just 2.2%) and adjust your strategy quickly.
Three, increase your conversion rate. ‘If you can increase your conversion rate by on point from 2% to 3%, your acquisition costs can drop dramatically from 12.5% to 8.3% which saves you a lot of money that you can reinvest,’ Passerini said. To achieve that, you have to guarantee your website offers the best price.
The fourth rule is to ‘be smart’, by having clear commercial messages that you offer the best rate in all your search, social media and website touchpoints leading to your booking engine. Triptease figures show that price comparison widgets on a hotel website increase conversions by 30%.
Passerini’s final rule was to optimise your acquisition costs and to make your rates significantly less than the big OTAs to have an impact on AdRank (‘at least 10% to make a difference’).
‘Displaying the best price on your website is a must to increase your conversion rate, to attract more traffic to your website and to pay a lower cost-per-click’, he said. ‘People need to dedicate a significant amount of time to this. The sales, marketing and revenue departments need to talk; this is crucial today. If they are in the same room, even better, so they can share their strategy, their needs.