The online booking landscape was prone to change even before a global pandemic, now it’s only been exacerbated by the past 18 months. The current flux could prove to be an upswing for hoteliers though, with many OTAs struggling to hold onto their market share amidst the unbending strength of direct bookings.
Direct bookings, particularly online, are seeing a surge as pockets of the hotel industry reopen to guests. SiteMinder’s own research shows a trend of travellers looking to book direct with the venue as they seek altered experiences in the wake of COVID-19.
Properties need to meet the demands of guests who have high standards, want a contactless experience, and wish for a flexible and personalised booking processes that reward them for turning away from OTA loyalty programs.
As with any hurdle or opportunity in the modern age, software often provides a solution or a way to capitalise. For hoteliers, an online booking engine and associated direct booking plug-ins are the perfect place to start.
In this blog we’ll cover a little about the benefit of booking engines, what direct booking plug-ins are, how you can win additional revenue, and who you have the opportunity to connect with.
Table of contents
Why an online booking engine is such a powerful ally
Alongside channel managers, online booking engines are one of the best tools hoteliers can adopt at their hotel.
This feature will allow you to take commission-free bookings from guests via your website and social media accounts such as Facebook. You’ll also be able to increase bookings by connecting your booking engine to Google Hotel Ads and other metasearch channels if you choose to.
Most importantly, you’ll be able to offer travellers exclusive incentives, extras, upsells, and packages to win them over and take charge of their experience. Being able to control how the relationship with your guests progresses is crucial for delivering quality experiences, enjoying long term revenue and achieving business success.
With an online booking engine, you can stay in touch with your guests from start to finish, using personalised communications enabled via pre-stay emails, as well as post-stay emails and TripAdvisor review auto-triggers for completed stays.
Plug-in Apps: What are they?
Once you’ve got your booking engine up and running, you’ll start to wonder if there’s even more opportunities to boost the direct revenue your property can earn. Short answer: there is!
Direct booking plug-ins are apps that will further reduce your reliance on OTAs by bringing more features and greater functionality to your existing booking engine. These apps, similar to those offered on SiteMinder’s Hotel App Store, are designed to complement and enhance the way you attract, serve, and gain value from your guests.
There are plug-ins to suit whatever goals you have, including to:
- Aid in the way you meet guest expectations (who are now losing trust in OTAs)
- Increase conversion rates and tracking
- Enable greater efficiency
- Allow additional tech integration easily
- Improve insights with price comparison
- Streamline communications with chatbots
- Create strong loyalty programs
These plug-in apps can be visible apps or non-visible apps. Visible apps are those the guest will directly interact with, such as a chatbot or price comparison tool. On the other hand, non-visible apps won’t be seen by guests and will focus more on your own performance, such as conversion tracking and marketing programs.
Direct booking plug-ins: Who are they?
There are a wide range of apps and widgets available to plug-in to your online booking engine, including some from the industry’s biggest names.
A list of your possible connections includes:
- The Hotels Network
- Book Me Bob
- The Guestnetwork
Who you can connect to will depend on your booking engine provider. Click here to explore the plug-ins and check your eligibility.
How can you connect? SiteMinder’s direct booking partners
SiteMinder is proud to have launched its Booking Engine Plug-in Apps program, which will allow hoteliers easier access to game-changing solutions on both a property and guest level.
Knowing that its customers are seeing a 27% increase of direct revenue and 33% more direct reservations during the first half of 2021 compared to 2019, SiteMinder has partnered with powerful apps to facilitate even greater rewards from its online booking engine.
Via the booking engine, you’ll be able to easily integrate with the apps listed above to thrill guests and differentiate your hotel, without breaking your budget. In fact, all SiteMinder’s direct booking partners are curated to boost your direct conversions and revenue.
Connectivity is seamless, with the apps smoothly appearing to guests alongside their booking journey in your booking engine. They are also easily managed by you in your existing booking engine extranet, if you are already a SiteMinder customer.
To make sure you don’t miss out on the growing direct booking opportunity, try SiteMinder’s online booking engine for free or watch a demo to get a feel of things first.