By Mariano Di Lascio — 7 Mar 2021
No matter what types of tours and activities you offer, you know that you need bookings to thrive. As part of your overall marketing and distribution strategy, you need to maximize all different types of bookings, whether that be direct or indirect bookings. It’s critical to understand the difference between these two types of bookings and to know why you need both for your tour and activity company.
Direct bookings are customers who reserve your tours and activities directly through you. A person who books a tour online after seeing your advertisement in a travel brochure is considered a direct booking. In addition, someone who stops by your storefront and makes a reservation is also considered a direct booking.
You can increase your direct bookings through marketing. Whether you are going to launch a social media campaign, or you prefer to go the more traditional route of print advertisements in local travel brochures, it’s important to keep in mind the return on your investment when it comes to direct bookings. Your marketing techniques should be designed specifically to increase these types of bookings. If you notice that your marketing campaign is not driving direct bookings, it’s time to make a change.
Online advertising, e-mail marketing campaigns, and travel brochures are great ways to advertise your business and increase your direct bookings. Note that you should always promote the fact that you offer easy online booking and mobile reservations for your customers, as this is the way that people want to make travel plans today.
Indirect bookings are reservations that are generated by agents who resell your tours and activities. You cannot rely solely on direct bookings, so it’s important to have a network of agents who are willing to resell your products. Agents who may help you increase your indirect bookings include OTAs, hotel concierges, and visitor information centers. When they know that you offer live availability and easy, instant online booking, they will be thrilled to work with you. The more agents you partner with, the more you can control the commission rates that you set. While you have to invest in your distribution strategy and pay commissions based on these sales, the effort is well worth it as you will be able to continue to grow your business.
When it comes to the two main different types of bookings, there will always be advantages and disadvantages that may vary between every business. One type of booking may work better for one business than the other. However, it’s best to lay the two different types of bookings out and see the pros and cons of each.
The advantage of direct bookings is the fact that the majority of the sale will go directly into your pocket. This is because there are no commissions or third-party fees involved. With direct bookings, you’re also able to maintain full control of your communication and retain your branding more effectively. Since customers are directly engaging with your business, you have the opportunity to build a stronger, more genuine relationship.
On the other hand, marketing your business will require a lot more time, resources, and cost. You will also be competing with a large pool of your competitors, including other tour providers and larger companies such as OTAs.
The main advantage of indirect bookings is the fact that you’re able to capture bookings on a larger scale. Bookings made through local agents or OTAs are usually more appealing for customers. This is due to the convenience of being able to research and book all in one place. Through an OTA, customers can compare different options and pricing at once and make a booking instantly.
On the flip side, it’s tougher to compete with your competitors on these platforms without competitive pricing. This means that you may need to lower your margins to stand out.
Most of your sales may come from indirect bookings, however, relying on one avenue of bookings may not be ideal. Optimizing your different types of bookings, specifically, direct bookings will be beneficial in the case of sudden changes between third-party partners. Whether that be updated policies, higher fees, or ending a partnership, having a solid foundation is critical in maintaining your business.
With direct bookings, you have full control over your pricing and policies. But it may be harder to convince your customers to book directly through you. Here are 3 tips to help you optimize your direct bookings.
Most customers aren’t usually aware that the prices you offer are the same as an OTA. This is why you should remind your customers that booking directly through you is beneficial for them and your business. You can remind your customers through email, social media or simply displaying it on your website and your policies.
With the majority of your customers seeking convenience, simply reminding customers of the best pricing on your website isn’t always enough. A smart trick would be to showcase OTA rates next to yours. This proves to your customers that booking directly will still get them the best rate.
With the advantage of having many options comes the disadvantage of having a website that’s too cluttered with information and content. This can lead to confusion for some customers and reduce the overall customer experience. You can use this issue to your advantage by having a website that is easy to navigate. Incorporating a booking system like Rezdy will simplify the overall booking process. With Rezdy, customers will be able to view real-time availability, make updates to their bookings instantly, and make a payment securely.
Providing benefits exclusively for direct bookings maybe that extra element that encourages your customers to book directly through you. Benefits such as complimentary snacks and refreshments, free transport arrangements, or discounts towards their next booking will add value to booking directly.
It will be beneficial to promote and incorporate these benefits into your marketing strategies. You can showcase these benefits on your website, social media, emails, or within your stores (if applicable).
Rezdy is a user-friendly online booking system that provides your customers with an opportunity to book directly through you on your website. A “book now” button encourages customers to make their reservations and add your tour to their vacation itinerary. At the same time, the Rezdy channel manager allows you to connect with indirect booking channels and encourage those partners to promote your business. With live availability and built-in commission payments, Rezdy makes it enjoyable for agents to recommend your products.
To find out how Rezdy can revitalize your tour and activity company, start your FREE 21-day trial or request a demo today.
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