Let me set something straight right off the bat. You can’t fully prevent your customers from booking on third-party fare aggregators and metasearch engines like Expedia, hotels.com, HomeAway, Booking.com and so on…
But what you CAN do, is greatly increase the chances that a visitor will make a reservation directly on your website by executing one simple strategy.
I’m going to show you exactly how to do so in this article.
Here’s the problem: 99% of customers believe that they can get cheaper rates by booking on a third-party platform rather than on the hotel’s website itself.
You and I both know that it’s NOT actually the case. In fact, if it were not for your agreement with said third-party app, you could offer 5–10% cheaper rates on your website and still make more revenue per booking because you would avoid paying a 20% commission.
But how to change the customer’s perception to make them book directly through your website?
Solution # 1: Make offers through Live Chat Agents
Your contract with fare aggregators stipulates that you can’t offer lower prices than those on your website.
And here you should be thinking something along the lines of: “Great, I already knew that.”
But here’s the trick: Depending on your country, there’s a great chance the agreement doesn’t stipulate anything about offering a better deal through a live phone call or a live chat conversation.
There lies your opportunity.
Here’s how to do it:
Install a live chat software
There’s plenty of live chat software out there. We personally use LiveChat internally for the features, API, integrations and also the fact that it’s the only one that allows us to position one agent through multiple sites without charging another license fee.
Assign 24/7 live chat agents to your site
There are two reasons why you should always have someone help your customers:
1- 39% of your bookings and leads happen after 8 pm.
Yes, really. Our 400 000 conversations show that nearly half of your bookings will be done at night, outside of office hours. That’s a really important moment of the day where an agent can help your visitors with questions (thus improving customer experience) and encourage your customer to book directly on your website.
2- Customer experience
How would you feel if you were browsing a hotel’s website at 10 PM and were immediately helped by an agent who would make suggestions on nearby activities based on your interests?
You’d probably be amazed by the service, right?
That’s where you gain an edge over your competitors and third-party aggregators.
“But what if I don’t have the resources to assign agents 24/7?”
Totally understandable. In fact, assigning just one agent 24/7 would cost you between $8,000 to $10,000 every single month.
And we offer that, risk-free, for under $1,000/month*
*Depending on your website traffic. This estimate is based on what our current customers are paying right now.
Setup automatic greetings
You have live agents that answer your visitors 24/7, great.
Now, let’s take this one step further.
There’s an automated tool in LiveChat software that allows us to automatically show custom greetings to our customers so that they are more inclined to engage in a conversation with us.
Greetings look like this :
So we could ask something like “Hi! Are you looking to book a stay or reserve a room for an event?”
This will prompt visitors to engage in a conversation with us and lead towards a booking.
But, do we want to show a greeting to all visitors?
When first starting with a live chat service, I’d probably recommend showing a greeting only to visitors who have been browsing the website for a couple of seconds or minutes. This way, you’ll reduce your cost and give your visitors the time to get to know you through your website and answer their questions by themselves.
When you’ve gathered data on cost and chat booking conversion rates, you could make informed decisions and choose to increase the frequency of greetings or reduce it.
We, at CrowdChat, found it incredibly effective to customize the greetings to the page the visitor is currently browsing.
Our data suggests that it increased conversations and conversion rates.
For example, if a visitor is browsing a page about weddings, we could prompt a greeting saying “Hi! Quick question, are you currently planning a wedding?”
In this article, we looked at how you could greatly increase direct bookings on your website by installing a live chat software and assigning live chat agents to it around the clock.
We also discussed how custom greetings can dramatically increase the number of conversations your agents have with your customers and as a result, increase your bookings.
If you want more information on this strategy and see how we could help, simply go to our website and engage in a conversation with our live chat agents.
You can also reach out and chat with me on LinkedIn.