Direct Bookings: Why Anything Else Is Like Flushing Money Down The Toilet

Every hotel manager wants every guest to make direct bookings on either their hotel/brand website or by calling the hotel/brand.  So why do we consistently shoot ourselves in the foot by making it too easy for them to book on indirect websites…. primarily third party websites? Yes, we want all the supermarket shelves to be open and our hotel to be visible everywhere – but we also want our best opportunities to come to us on our direct bookings site.  Customers are going to book on indirect sites.  But, our challenge is to change their buying habits.  Once a customer who has booked through an indirect site arrives, then we must have a plan in place to convert them to a direct customer at check-in.

I’m a “go direct” junkie.  If you have ever had a sales check-up call with me, or attended a revenue call with me, you will hear me preach (yes preach – not yell), WHY are we not allowing our GSRs to be the good guys?  Why are we not “training” our customers to book directly with us?  Not booking on our direct booking engine or with our staff is like flushing 10-30% of our room revenues right down the toilet.  Can your hotel afford this practice?

Go back to past blogs I have written…. there are many.  If you don’t want to reread them, then call me.  I will help you put a plan in place to train your staff to encourage our guests (nicely) to book direct.  It’s simple – but it takes training, re-training, reminding, and re-reminding so that everyone is speaking the same language.

The plan is simple – it makes your staff the good guys because they are offering your guests a personal, inside tip – heck, it might even raise those check-in GSS scores:

(You can see how the customer booked their reservation when you open up the reservation.
This should spark the GSR to start the direct bookings script.)

Welcome to (your city) Mr. Jones.  We are delighted you are here!
I want to thank you for choosing the (your hotel name) as your home base
while visiting the area and also for working with our valued booking partner (Expedia/Orbits/booking.com, etc.).

I see you will be staying with us for 3 nights at the (name of third party) rate of $100.

Did you know that if you book future reservations directly through
our (brand) website or by calling our hotel directly,
that we can assure you will always get best rate – sometimes even better rates,
AND you would qualify to earn valuable (brand) rewards points?

(Give them your Go Direct gift with the booking instructions.)

Here is a small token of our appreciation for staying with us.
I’ve taken the liberty of including our card explaining the benefits of booking direct.

(Then proceed with check-in as normal.)

This little script, if practiced should take about 30 seconds.  Correct me if I am wrong, but I think an additional 30 seconds added to the check-in process might be worth it if you can save the hotel between 10-30% (typical third party commission range) of the room revenue.  You do the math:  If 10% of your reservations come in regularly through third parties – how much might your hotel save each year if they even converted 2-3% of those reservations to direct bookings?

Scripts must be practiced so the GSR feels comfortable with this soft sell.  Practice in your daily huddles.  Role play at departmental meetings: record your GSR as they go through the check-in process.  Take turns until each of them are comfortable with the process and understand the goal.  Buy-in comes through knowledge so explain to them why it is important!

Teach Staff How and Why
Train your staff and help them understand why the concept of direct bookings is important to the hotel.

The incentive to your hotel and staff is multi-fold.  If guests are happy, then they book more often.  If guests book more often, then the hotel is earning more money.  If the hotel is earning more money then the owners are happy.  If owners are happy, managers are happy.  If managers are happy, (hypothetically) salaries are raised.  If salaries are raised, associates are happy.  If associates are happy, then guests are happy.  And the circle continues.

So what kind of gift are we talking about?  Candy bars, water, salty snacks, something really small – change it up.  Tie a business card that you can print in-house (order the business card template stock from your office supply store).  On one side of the card put the contact info for the hotel.  On the other side, type up the benefits of “go direct”.  (Same or best available rate, qualifying rate category to earn rewards points, the convenience of booking, personal service, etc.)  Have these prepared and in a bin within arms reach of the check-in area.

What is stopping you from putting a direct booking plan into place at your hotel?

Happy making more money!

Linda

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