7 Ways Hotels Can Increase Direct Bookings

Tired of paying commission with every booking in your hotel? You have the power to change that. Your hotel can increase direct bookings and regain control over your future. 

Given the choice between an OTA booking and a direct booking, we’ll take the direct bookings every time. The advantages of booking directly work to the advantage of both guests and hotels. So why wouldn’t you want to increase direct bookings?

However, OTAs do have their place in the hotel industry. They are widespread, popular and user-friendly for very good reasons. That’s why hotels generally use them to stir up much-needed bookings during off-seasons. 

The only problem is that hotels are using them incorrectly. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

Why Do I Need to Increase Direct Bookings?

So How Can You Increase Direct Bookings?

Should You Avoid OTAs to Increase Direct Bookings?

Ready to Increase Your Direct Bookings?

Why Do I Need to Increase Direct Bookings?

No one is forcing you to. But if you increase direct bookings then you will have an extreme advantage over the rest of your compset. You’ll also find that your expenses are a lot cheaper since you won’t be paying commission or bidding on keywords to receive guests.

For hotels, there are three distinct ways of receiving a guest reservation: OTAs, Metasearch and direct booking. They each have their own uses and drawbacks, but direct bookings are far more valuable than the other two. 


Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are valuable, but they are misused. They prop-up hotel bookings especially in the off seasons. They are so popular because many guests know about Booking and automatically go there because they are familiar with it. Not to mention that OTAs Keyword Bids  are phenomenally powerful – after all, they have enough of your money!


However, OTAs take away the control that hotels can have. Bookings made through OTAs are limited by having to communicate through the OTA itself. This reduces the interaction and personalisation that can be achieved. Not only that, but they charge an average of 15-25% in commission per booking – and sometimes add on additional fees! That’s a huge incentive to increase direct bookings!


Metasearch has become an interesting hybrid approach between hotels and OTAs. Essentially they are price comparison websites for guests to scan destinations and hotels. Your hotel bids on advertising placement and you will pay in a cost-per-click (CPC) model rather than a commission-based model. You can then set budgets and alter pricing based on strategy.

Now while this does give hotels the opportunity to increase direct bookings with an excellent bidding strategy, it also puts your budget against the budget of international OTAs – you know, the ones taking millions in commission every month. It can be easy for hotels to overspend on their budget if they’re not careful.

Direct Bookings

Direct bookings are when the guest makes a booking directly with the hotel. This is invaluable because firstly, you can maintain direct hotel to guest contact throughout the entire process. This includes pre and post-stay emails, follow ups, promotional materials etc. 

Second of all, it allows your hotel to keep the money it makes. The majority of OTAs charge around 15% commission, and sometimes even more! If you charge £100 a night for your rooms, you’ll only receive £85!

This is Why Your Hotel Should Increase Direct Bookings! 


So How Can You Increase Direct Bookings?

Hotel marketing is what we do and we aren’t afraid to spill some of our secrets (we even offer a free hotel marketing audit) but knowing and doing are two different things. So let’s talk about the ways to increase direct bookings easily.

Optimise Your Hotel Website

There are a thousand and one things to do in order to optimise a hotel website. It’s the first impression that a guest will get of your hotel. They have already found you, all that’s left is to convince them to follow through on their reservation – it’s why we class it as #1 on our list of how to increase direct bookings! 

The very basics should bear in mind the following factors:

SEO – A hotel website that can’t be found on Google is a hotel website that receives very few bookings. You can be sure that OTAs optimise their pages featuring your hotel, so you need to be up there competing with them. Hotel SEO is now one of the most vital aspects of getting seen online.

Images – They need to be beautiful, but not too big! The majority of website visitors click off if a page takes more than 3 seconds to load! If you haven’t minimised the file sizes and optimised your hotel website page load speed, then you’ve just lost an interested guest.

Design – User experience is key. Even the most beautiful website can feel like a clunky robot if it hasn’t been smoothly designed with the user in mind. Your website should also be equally usable on both desktop and mobile-friendly versions.

And these are just the tip of the iceberg!

Install a Booking Engine That Works

Booking engines

It’s the 2020’s now and we still see hotels that use direct email interactions to book rooms – please no more!

A booking engine should be easy-to-use, understandable and simple to select. The more work a potential guest has to do to book a room at your hotel – the less likely that they will follow through. If your booking engine is user-friendly, guests will find themselves continuing through the sales funnel and filling up your rooms. You’ll also have instantaneous updates with your Property Management System (PMS) which makes everyone’s lives much easier!

Offer Direct Booking Rewards

As the customer sees it, a direct booking to your hotel and a booking through an OTA are exactly the same. At least, if you haven’t ended rate parity that is. They’ll pay the same price either way, but you are the one who loses money if they book through the OTA.

So make sure that there is an incentive.

Complimentary champagne, special offers, additional amenities, packages – try everything and examine which items most appeal to your guests. Even if you offer discounts of 5% or even 10% off, you’re still making more money with the direct booking than you would via an OTA!

Simplify the Booking Process

hotel_roomYou want to turn a website visitor into a guest. That means getting them from point A to point B ASAP. 

If potential guests need to go through multiple steps to book, then that means multiple chances where they’ll give up on the process. Booking a room at your hotel should be as easy as 1, 2, 3. Or 1, 2 if you can really streamline the booking process!

On a side note to that – relax on the CTAs. They’re an invaluable tool to get guests to book, but too many decreases their value and actually harms your conversion funnel. CTAs should be simple and persuasive, not an irritant!

Encourage Repeat Guests

If you want to increase direct bookings, then there is no better avenue than repeat guests. They know what you have to offer, they know where you are and they will always try to book with you directly.

To ensure repeat guests, you need to understand their guest expectations but you also need to give them a little more encouragement. This can be done via loyalty programmes with rewards for successive stays, or membership benefits that they earn with longer bookings. 

If you offer a referral program as well, you can turn guests into walking, talking adverts for your hotel. Potential guests are more inclined to believe a review from a friend than a stranger on the internet, and the effect can continue to grow!

Feature Real Reviews

Real life linked reviews from previous guests can play a big part in encouraging guests to book directly. 

Most fire-time guests are more inclined to check out sites such as TripAdvisor to have a look at your rating and hear reports from previous guests. However, that means that they’ll click off your website to check out your hotel.

Don’t make them do that.

Proudly feature your 4 and 5 star ratings, show them what they are yet to experience and leverage that marketing that you earned through your hard work!

Leverage Social Media

hotel_social_mediaIf your hotel social media strategy is outdated, you’re not just losing out on marketing, you are actively damaging your hotel’s brand. 

The rise of the influencer brought about many questionable things. Duck faces, portable ring lights and selfie sticks among them. However it gave social media the chance to no longer be about real lives, but about destinations as well.

Now, everyone tags where they are and who they are with. If guests geotag your hotel, then immediately your Instagram page becomes a brand new landing page. It will be the first thing visitors see, so make sure it’s nice!

Being responsive on social media also keeps you current, helps you build your hotel branding and allows you to stay current. If you’re staying quiet, then you are missing out on a whole wave of tech-savvy holiday goers looking for that new profile picture.

Should You Avoid OTAs to Increase Direct Bookings?

We’ve made a lot of fuss about competing with OTAs. They charge too much commission and that money would be better reinvested in your own hotel. But should you ditch OTAs altogether?

Absolutely not!

We mentioned earlier that many hotels use OTAs correctly. What we meant was that they should be viewed primarily as a marketing channel, not a sales channel.

That’s right, we said marketing. 

You will inevitably get bookings through an OTA, and that’s great. They help most particularly in the off season. However, when guests browse potential accommodation around their destination through OTAs, they also see other nearby hotels. It doesn’t make a difference to the OTA whether a guest stays at your hotel or your competitors, just that they get a booking.

But you get seen.

Not in as advantageous a way that we would like, but your name, your hotel and your brand frequently appear on these pages either as the primary result or a suggested result.

You’ll end up with more reach if you sign your hotel up to OTAs than you would if you did not. So we encourage you to use OTAs, but consider them less of a sales channel and more of a marketing with occasional bonuses channel!

Ready to Increase Your Direct Bookings?

hotel marketing auditYesterday was the best day to start revamping your online presence. So get started today on completing our checklist! Each of these minor adjustments to your hotel’s online presence can begin making vast changes and increase your direct bookings.

If you have any questions about your hotel marketing, we are here to help. We offer a free hotel marketing audit for your hotel. There is no tie-in, no contract, just a quick review of your online presence and a report for your convenience.

We’ll analyse your hotel marketing and arrange a one-on-one meeting to discuss our findings at your convenience. We’ll answer any and all questions you have! Remember to check out our hotel blogs for regular updates, guides and news for hotel managers everywhere!

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      Let's talk Hotel Marketing

      FREE of charge in just 30 minutes

      Just fill in the form and we'll arrange a brief meeting to discuss your current marketing efforts.

      Feel free to ask us anything that you're having trouble with and we'll do our best to provide exact recommendations on how to improve.