Direct booking refers to a reservation made directly with a service provider, such as a hotel or airline, without the involvement of a third-party booking agent or intermediary. This means that the customer contacts the service provider directly, either through their website, phone, or email, to make a reservation or purchase a product or service.
Direct bookings are becoming increasingly popular as they often offer several advantages over bookings made through third-party agents. For example, direct bookings may come with lower prices, more flexible cancellation policies, and better customer service. Additionally, service providers can better track customer preferences and offer personalized recommendations when bookings are made directly with them.
Direct booking trends
Shift from GDS to Metasearch
According to Adara’s (A RateGain Company) latest travel trends report we found something interesting. After a lot of data searching, we gathered that GDS used to enjoy the lion’s share in booking pre-covid. But post-covid Metasearch engines have become the leading booking channel. The share of Metasearch in bookings has been rising rapidly since 2021 and currently it accounts for 80% of all bookings made.
What are the top booking channels?
Here are some of the top booking channels:
- Online Travel Agencies (OTAs): OTAs such as Booking.com, Expedia, and Agoda have become popular booking channels for many travelers. These platforms allow customers to compare prices and book hotels, flights, and other travel services.
- Direct Booking with Hotels and Airlines: As mentioned earlier, more travelers are booking directly with hotels and airlines to take advantage of lower prices, personalized offers, and loyalty programs.
- Metasearch Engines: Metasearch engines such as Google Flights and Kayak allow customers to search for and compare prices from various sources, including OTAs and airlines.
- Corporate Travel Agencies: Many businesses use corporate travel agencies such as American Express Global Business Travel and Carlson Wagonlit Travel to manage their travel arrangements.
- Travel Management Companies (TMCs): TMCs such as Egencia and BCD Travel provide corporate travel management services, including booking flights and hotels and managing expenses.
- Mobile Apps: Travel booking mobile apps such as Airbnb, HotelTonight, and Skyscanner are also popular among travelers who prefer to make bookings on their smartphones and tablets.
Overall, the choice of booking channel depends on individual preferences, needs, and budget. Many travelers use a combination of channels depending on the type of travel, destination, and other factors.
What are the 15 ways to increase direct bookings?
- Optimize your website: Your website is the face of your business, so it’s essential to make it visually appealing and user-friendly. Make sure it’s easy to navigate, loads quickly, and has clear calls-to-action (CTAs) that prompt visitors to book directly with you.
- Offer a Best Rate Guarantee: A Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) ensures that customers booking directly with you receive the best possible rate. This is a powerful incentive for travelers to book directly with you instead of through third-party booking sites.
- Use social media: Social media can be a powerful tool for promoting your hotel and driving direct bookings. Share engaging content and promotions on your social media channels, and encourage followers to book directly with you.
- Leverage email marketing: Use email marketing to stay top-of-mind with potential guests and offer them exclusive discounts and promotions for booking directly with you.
- Offer loyalty programs: Loyalty programs encourage guests to book directly with you by offering exclusive perks and rewards for repeat bookings.
- Use retargeting ads: Retargeting ads allow you to target users who have already visited your website but didn’t book. Use these ads to remind them of the value of booking directly with you and incentivize them to return and complete the booking.
- Partner with local businesses: Partner with local businesses such as restaurants and attractions to offer guests added value and incentive to book directly with you.
- Optimize your listing on Google My Business: Google My Business is a free tool that allows you to manage your hotel’s online presence across Google, including in search results and on Google Maps. Make sure your listing is up-to-date and optimized for direct bookings.
- Offer flexible cancellation policies: Flexible cancellation policies can help build trust with potential guests and encourage them to book directly with you.
- Use direct booking incentives: Offer guests exclusive perks and incentives for booking directly with you, such as free breakfast, late check-out, or complimentary upgrades. These can be powerful motivators for guests to book directly with you instead of through a third-party booking site.
- Use meta-search engines: Meta-search engines can drive direct bookings by allowing travelers to compare rates across multiple channels and book directly with you.
- Use Google Hotel Ads: Google Hotel Ads can increase your visibility in search results and drive direct bookings.
- Use a booking engine on your website: A booking engine on your website allows users to book directly with you in a seamless and user-friendly way.
- Offer mobile booking: Mobile booking is becoming increasingly popular, so make sure your website is optimized for mobile users.
- Use guest reviews: Positive guest reviews can build trust and encourage potential guests to book directly with you. Encourage guests to leave reviews on your website and third-party review sites.
Further Read: Why Metasearch is Critical for your Direct Bookings Strategy