The pandemic has catalysed an increase in direct bookings, SiteMinder’s senior director of global demand partnerships, James Bishop said reflecting on 2020 “With international travel restrictions in place and rising cases of coronavirus around the world, many consumers were drawn to local hotel accommodations where the direct hotel website has always performed well, or through local booking channels, which, after an initial slump, saw an uptick from pent-up travel demand.
Commenting on the research by SiteMinder Sarah Habsburg points out that “in 12 markets, direct bookings are now ranked as the second-top producer of booking revenue for local hotels, up from five markets last year and just two in 2019.” Where businesses sell direct and avoid commissions earnings are greater.
Sarah argues as Apple, Facebook and Google are putting more emphasis on customer privacy, relying on third party cookies is unwise and that it is time to begin to build a marketing strategy that does not rely on them.
How does this all relate to the Responsible Tourism agenda?
Direct bookings reduce your breakeven point because they eliminate intermediary commissions that eat into profits, but they also allow for healthier local development because those extra commission dollars that would have been paid to a distant Online Travel Agencies (OTA), now enter the local economy as your purchasing power is stimulated, and that, in turn, means that more local people get a little piece of the pie.Sarah Habsburg, Founder of The School for Responsible Tourism
Sarah recommends using Google, globally the most visited website, with 92% market share of search engine visits. By increasing your ranking on Google“, you exponentially increase your chances of encouraging more potential customers to land on your website.”
You can find Sarah’s advice about how to raise your profile on Google here. Sarah ran a panel discussion last month for the Responsible Tourism Partnership on how to grow direct bookings. One of the participants emailed to say: I’ve just watched the video again, and think it’s brilliant – Sarah – you gave such good advice during the presentation – I think [we] need to retain you as a consultant to help us beat/outwit the OTA’s.
Sarah argues that we need to work with the OTAs but also to build direct bookings and capitalise on repeats and referrals.