Social Media is a powerful tool for marketing, brand awareness and creating conversations to build loyalty, but it can also be utilised by hotels as a path for direct bookings.
You may ask yourself, why are direct bookings important? Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s) such as Expedia have radically changed the face of business for hotels, and have offered a highly effective means of increasing brand visibility while providing customers and easy tool for search. While this service has mad hotel prices more competitive than ever for guests, it does come at a cost for hotel businesses, which are not only faced with pressure to compete in an aggressive market, but are also require to pay commission on bookings mad through OTAs.
For these reasons, direct bookings – that is, bookings secured directly via a business’ own website or reservation desk – are more important than ever for hotels. Direct bookings cut out the OTA middleman, saves money on commission and also gives the establishment greater control over the book process and handling their guests’ experiences.
How can Social Media increase direct bookings?
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest can all be used to drive direct bookings, by positioning direct bookings as a more attractive option than booking with OTAs and funneling prospective guests towards your reservation desk and online booking systems.
Guests use OTAs as a research tool, and will often check out your website and social media accounts before making a final decision. Make sure your business’s social accounts are highly visible to encourage engagement, and to get the eyes of potential guests right where you want them – looking at the social proof that your establishment is their best option. Link to all your social media accounts directly from OTAs if you can, and ensure your social buttons are obvious on your website.
Always make it clear that direct booking is an option. First and foremost, it’s important to regularly funnel guests to direct booking avenues across all of your SM accounts. If prospective customers have only ever seen a booking option via OTAs, that’s where they are going to end up hitting the ‘book now’ button.
Make direct bookings messages a regular occurrence on your social media posting calendar, so guests can readily see it as an accessible option. Make contacting your reservation centre simple to overcome any barriers to book. Be sure to respond to any enquiries quickly, to encourage engagement and conversation.
Give them an Incentive!
While most establishments will match the price offered by OTAs, incentivizing direct bookings via social media is a great way to encourage guests to book direct. Offering fans and followers deals will not only encourage more prospective guests to connect and engage your brand via social media (thus increasing your social proof) it will also create a reason for those fans to book directly via your reservation team. You can also use Social Media to broadcast and promote discounts or other incentives, such as a free room upgrade when available, complimentary champagne upon your arrival, or a discount with a partnered restaurant.
Directly connecting potential guests with your reservation centre – and giving them an unbeatable reason to book direct – will send your social media conversions through the roof.