Not sure whether you should allow bookings on your self catering website? There are lots of reasons why you should consider...
We can't deny the influence large Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s) have on the travel and tourism industry. For anyone who is not familiar with online holidays, would be under the impression that there are hundreds of websites to go to when booking a stay. Whilst this is true, most of them are owned by the same two dominant companies - Priceline and Expedia.
These channels take 76% of all online bookings, but more importantly half of these users still visit the independent’s website prior to a stay.
Getting traffic through OTA’s is great for exposure and getting your business seen. You are of course though one of many who are listed, and only a click away from your competition. This is why how you manage these referrals moving forward is crucial. Having a booking generated by another site is good to introduce new customers to you, but it is down to you to make sure they return back to you for repeat business - not to the OTA.
Most Online Travel Agents charge a commission for bookings and not just to the property owner. Guests often have to pay the price for using an OTA and are also billed for their services. These fees bump up initial quotes and aren’t favourable for your customers, especially with the likes of additional ‘service fees’ that catch guests out at the checkout, sometimes adding up to an additional 20% on top of the initial subtotal.
Allowing your guests to book directly benefits both you and your customers. As there is no middle man to pay, prices can be lower for guests and still be more profitable for the property owner. With no fees you could see a noticeable rise in profits from your bookings.
So how do you make sure that guests who have already stayed at your property, come back to you - rather than rebooking through an OTA? As simple as it sounds, making sure your customers have a great experience should be the reason they want to return.
Of course existing on the internet allows guests to publicly comment on their stay. This gives you a great opportunity to not only collect valuable feedback, but simultaneously entice new custom. Testimonials are worth their weight in gold, they build trust and give credibility.
Having all bookings on your SCRUMPY website allows for easy management. The system can direct guests back to your own site when asking for feedback. This raises awareness that your website exists, and increases your chances of the guest rebooking direct if they wanted to stay again in the future.
Keeping in touch
Once you have spent time building rapport with a customer, it wouldn’t make sense to then lose it. Via SCRUMPY you are able to add your guests as subscribers, so you can keep them informed of the goings on of your business.
SCRUMPY's broadcast system allows you to send out mass emails to your mailing list - so you are able to share your newly decorated bathroom or your local knowledge of things to do this summer. Another great tip is to promote unpopular dates or late cancellations as ‘special offers’.
By keeping in contact with your customers, they are less likely to forget you, or that amazing week they spent at your property last year.
Wherever the guest initially found the accommodation, it is likely they will shop around before committing with payment. Firstly it’s important that they can find your website and secondly that they can see your pricing and availability.
SCRUMPY websites give you unrivalled visibility from search engines and can showcase your dates in an easy to use, bookable, year view calendar. https://demo.scrumpy.co.uk/properties/cider-press-cottage/calendar
The pricing you display is of course up to you. But as there’s no commission or listing cost that needs to be subsidized, why not reward those for going direct with a little discount?
If you don’t currently offer direct bookings, have you considered that your opening hours are restricting potential trade? The modern day person is busy and often in a rush. We live in a age where everything is expected immediately, and to wait for a person on the other end is not often good enough.
So if you are not there to answer the phone, can you really expect that person to call back tomorrow? The likelihood is they won’t. They will continue looking and book elsewhere. Your business is one of many who offer self catering accommodation, so don’t be complacent.
The solution? Allow visitors to view your availability and book on the spot, just as they are accustomed to elsewhere, but on your own website. You'll never know how many missed opportunities you've had unless you start opening the door and removing this common barrier.
If you were asked in conversation “Where did you book your holiday?” what would you say?
“I booked through that online travel agent, you know the one…”
“I found this really nice property and booked on their website…”
How great would it be if when asked, your guests tell their friends, family and colleagues that they booked on your website! Not on Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Expedia, Airbnb or Owners Direct...
The lasting impression of how someone booked is likely to be remembered - not necessarily how they found it in the first place.