May 9, 2023
The use of online travel agencies (OTAs) has declined as the vast majority of hotels now actively encourage direct bookings rather than solely relying on OTAs. But are direct bookings really that important for keeping up with traveler trends?
The answer is simply yes. Without a hotel booking engine, you risk missing out on booking opportunities in the short and long term.
Below, we’ll look at the distinctions between OTAs and hotel booking engines, different benefits, and which one makes the most sense for your hotel.
Similarities Between Hotel Booking Engines and OTAs
A hotel booking engine and OTAs have a few similarities that can drive more bookings. They both can provide a positive online guest experience and provide important information about your hotel. Additionally, they both:
- Provide pictures and crucial details of your hotel, such as amenities
- Advertise your business to generate interest
- Offer the ability to upsell, though direct bookings offer a better opportunity to upsell with the individual in mind
Although there are many similarities between the two, there are even more differences. For example, OTAs can have more reach — depending on which OTA is used. However, most visitors prefer to book directly on a hotel’s website even after finding them via an OTA. Here are some other important distinctions:
- Direct bookings can save you money that you would normally spend on OTA commissions
- OTAs may be better for a short term boost to bookings, but direct booking has a better chance at creating loyal guests
- Direct booking gives you more actionable insight to your visitors compared to OTAs, which usually hides guest information and preferences
While OTAs may offer a quicker experience, direct bookings provide the ability to offer a more personalized and informational experience. This boosts your relationship with guests in real time and improves the chances of them booking directly with you again in the future.
With all the advantages of direct booking over OTAs, it’s crucial for your hotel to adopt the best practices for increasing direct bookings. Here are the main three ways you can boost your direct reservations with a hotel booking engine and why we recommend them over OTAs.
3 Ways to Boost Direct Bookings with a Hotel Booking Engine
1. Include Upsells and Add-ons During the Booking Process
Upsells, cross-sells, and add-ons present an opportunity to increase direct bookings while offering a better guest experience at every touchpoint.
When guests visit your website, you can recommend relevant offerings such as packages, deals, products, tours, amenities, and more to fit their preferences and needs. You can also provide more information about your hotel and nearby attractions, such as local activities and places to eat.
Personalizing the online booking experience for guests with relevant content across each touchpoint can lead to more direct bookings vs. booking through OTAs. This is because you’re providing the opportunity for guests to customize their experience.
OTAs don’t offer the same personalization tools and features that an Internet Booking Engine (IBE) integrated into a hotel PMS can. If you rely on OTAs as your main source of bookings, you’re not only missing out on potential bookings, but also on additional revenue from other amenities and services that your hotel offers.
2. Provide More Options and Information on Your Website
If your hotel is reliant on OTAs, you likely have little control over what information you can provide to your future visitors about what they can expect during their stay. With a customizable hotel booking engine, you can enable your guests to access all of the information that they need to make an informed booking decision. This convenience will improve the guest experience and increase the likelihood that they book directly on your site next time, boosting your direct booking opportunities.
Not only does a hotel booking engine increase direct bookings, it will also save your front desk staff time from answering queries and managing bookings. This means more opportunities for your staff to focus on current guests while your booking engine offers 24/7/365 booking opportunities for potential ones.
3. Deliver More Precise Insights
Understanding guest behavior and preferences can help you meet popular traveler trends and provide relevant content, activities, amenities, and more. Gathering these actionable insights are attainable with a hotel property management software that uses a hotel booking engine.
While OTAs can limit booking information visibility and direct communication with future guests, a hotel booking engine can allow you to collect important guest information and preferences. By utilizing the data from your hotel booking engine, you can tailor your marketing strategy to provide the most personalized, relevant experience that will boost direct bookings for future stays.
Which One Is Best for Your Hotel?
There are many more differences between hotel direct bookings and OTAs than commonalities. While both can increase revenue, enhance your hotel's reputation, and provide a seamless guest experience during the booking process, direct bookings are undeniably more advantageous to hotels.
Direct bookings, when paired with all-in-one software, produce the most comprehensive data about your guests and their preferences at a level OTAs can’t offer. Without insight into visitor behavior, how are you supposed to improve the guest experience and improve every aspect of your hotel?
To learn more about direct booking, OTAs, and many other helpful tools and resources associated with hotel management software, get your guide to all-in-one software today.