As a hotelier, one of your biggest priorities is driving more direct bookings. However, with hundreds of online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia and Hotwire competing against you, this is becoming a more difficult task.
Of course, all bookings are good for business, but hoteliers tend to prefer direct bookings because they don’t require you to hand over a portion of revenue to a third-party company. But with such stiff competition, how can you persuade guests to book with you instead of an online agency?
In this post, we’ll compare direct hotel bookings to Expedia hotel bookings. We’ll also give you some simple tips for boosting your direct reservations.
How does Expedia work?
From a business perspective, Expedia is a powerful player in the travel industry. The site has a market share of 17% in the North American travel industry and a presence in more than 200 countries. Expedia sells flights, cruises, and rental cars, but its biggest money-making source is hotel bookings, which account for 70% of its revenue.
Because Expedia has such a large presence and is well-known with travelers, hoteliers work to get their hotel to appear on the site. Essentially, putting your hotel on Expedia is a form of advertising because so many customers frequent the site looking for deals.
When you list your property on Expedia, the site charges you a commission fee (typically 15-30% for independent hotels) for each room booked. For example, if you have a room listed for $200 on Expedia, you can expect to hand over between $30 – $60, depending on the agreed-upon fee. Expedia says it uses this money for marketing and customer service to grow its user base.
How can you drive more direct bookings?
Unfortunately, Expedia is just one of the many OTAs that travelers are browsing before they commit to booking a hotel. So getting your property to stand out is becoming more challenging, but there are several things you can do to increase your brand awareness among potential guests.
Invest in search engine optimization (SEO)
When guests look for hotel options, they typically head to Google or another search engine to see what’s available in their destination city. For example, someone might search for “hotels in Santa Barbara,” and see their options listed.
As a hotelier, it’s critical to take advantage of this hot lead source. There are many ways to improve your SEO, but basic strategies include having a website that’s rich with relevant keywords, loads quickly, and is easy to read.
Leverage social media
Maintaining an active social media presence is a great way to attract new potential guests. Travel blogs and social media accounts have become extremely popular and many have built loyal followings. If you have the budget for it, you could partner with an influencer who shares a similar target demographic to your hotel and create sponsored posts on Instagram or Facebook.
If you don’t want to pay for social media advertisements, simply publishing new content on your brand accounts will help you steadily gain new followers, who you can convert into guests.
These are just a couple of quick tips for boosting your hotel direct bookings through SEO and social media. If you’d like a more in-depth guide to hotel search engine marketing, check out our SEM post.