According to business expert Patrick Lencioni, “If you could get all the people in the organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.” The first obvious takeaway is that your teams must continuously be inspired toward the same goal (e.g. sales and marketing and reservations would be working in harmony). However, before you can get there, you must be sure you know in which direction to send them. And that must amount to more than telling them to bring in more direct bookings. First, it requires a revised approach to direct bookings.
Due to the lack of a true and clear understanding of direct bookings and how to achieve them, most properties have now become their own biggest competition. Not the OTAs, not the property down the street, not a third-party of any sort. Right now, the most effective change you can make to become more profitable is right under your nose.
Consider that with current practices, most properties will get 47 bookings out of 1,000 website visits. Just 17 of those will be website bookings, and yet, our industry continues to talk about brand.com bookings as though these are the Holy Grail. They account for less than half of all the direct bookings, though. The rest of those 47 reservations will be made over the phone. This is the current status quo. On top of this, most hotels are offering deep loyalty discounts to drive travelers to book web direct, further undercutting profits.
What if we reimagine direct bookings? Talk about them for what they really are. A series of steps back and forth between the online and offline world that will land either on a property website or with a reservations agent. Then we equip these teams that we want to be working toward a common goal with the tools to encourage and capture guests all along this path in creative and optimal ways.
The result? A 100% increase in bookings from that initial 1,000 website visitors. That’s 94 bookings instead of 47. Let’s just say that each of these bookings is worth $1,000 in total stay value (likely it’s more than this), then it amounts to an additional $47,000. Twice per day? Per day? Per every other day? No matter what your traffic is like, this is a substantial increase resulting from a simple shift in attitude and training. With existing demand.
Shake up the status quo in your organization. It’s far more productive than fretting over 20% commissions or trying to replace them with web bookings.