Do you want to take more direct online bookings and cut down on the commission you’re giving away?
Online travel agencies (OTAs) can be very useful for upping your occupancy in the shoulder months. They can take the sweat out of your marketing efforts, dressing you up in their shop windows and showing you off to thousands of potential visitors without you having to put in too much effort. But with that, you give away fistfuls of cash every time you take a booking from them.
While Anytime connects campsites, glamping sites and holiday cottages to a whole host of industry-relevant OTAs and portal sites to give you the choice of where you want to sell your offerings, you may want to concentrate on taking more direct online bookings.
- We’ve just said that OTAs eat up a chunk of commission every time they push a booking your way, but listing with them can increase the number of people who visit your website direct after hearing about you through them. So, list with them. But you don’t need to put every pitch, pod, room or property up (wink).
- Make your website really appealing. It doesn’t need to be expensive or pages and pages long. You just need to succinctly tell potential visitors what you have on offer, why you’re different from the rest and show them some gorgeous (but truthful) photography – it’s always worth investing in a professional photographer as quality images really do sell the dream.
- Two little words: Book Now. Make sure you have a prominent Book Now button on every page of your website, it’s the most powerful call to action you have. Don’t make people dig around trying to find it, they’ll turn away and you’ll lose business. Install one of these and your direct online bookings will sky rocket.
- Use videos. Footage from your smartphone will do. Talk to camera about what someone can expect from a holiday with you, give them a little tour. Better still, ask a departing guest to leave you a quick video testimonial about their experience. You can offer them a free night on their next stay for their trouble – but the extra business it will push your way will more than make up for the giveaway. Instant video reviews result in more direct online bookings.
- Your accommodation is your bread and butter, no question, but today’s discerning guest expects more. Whether it’s a free box of eggs for your camper to cook over a campfire or a personalised welcome hamper on arrival at their glamping pod – think of the little extras that might encourage more direct return business or recommendation to friends. Customer loyalty can only mean good things for you!
- Build up a community on social media and email marketing. Share your news and anything anecdotal you might find about the space you occupy. It’s fun to do once you get into it, you’ll find your style and followers help to create a buzz around your business. Encourage your visitors to post their holiday pics and say nice things about you. It works. Engaging with your existing customers is a powerful tool on your road to increasing direct online bookings.
- Improving your customer experience includes improving their booking journey. Ignore this at your peril. You need a good online booking and management system at the heart of your business. Your booking process must be responsive to any size mobile device (ours is). It must be intuitive (tick). It must be able to calculate all those extras like dogs and awning hire (check). It must be able to take live payments (like ours) and send out confirmations automatically (yep).