We recently got an opportunity to interview Alessandro Crotti (ALE), a passionate hotel digital strategist and e-commerce expert, assisting independent hoteliers. Ale is the creator of directyourbookings.com, which helps hotel operators generate more leads, more prospects and more (direct) bookings by leveraging hotel pricing with distribution, e-commerce branding and digital marketing.
Ale is a wizard that works magic to improve and drive direct businesses to hotel via their website booking channels. In this chat with mycloud ALE explains where you should be focusing on to drive more revenue and convert better.
1. What are your tips to get direct booking for your Independent hotel?
Only 1 tip: there are no shortcuts. I know this is not the answer most hoteliers would love to hear. In fact, the word “tips” implies something easy, something quick to implement that turns direct bookings overnight, as if by magic.
Even more so now, in these post-pandemic times, I can testify that the OTAs and in general the 3rd-party players have been investing tons of money and resources in preparing for the times that will come. To the point that it’s going to be almost impossible for hotels to compete.
2. How can hotel PMS help to increase the direct booking?
In no way. A PMS is what it is, a Property Management System. We can discuss the features that a PMS should have, that could help Hoteliers make better decisions. In this sense and in my opinion, a PMS should provide hoteliers with the right set of data to 1) monitor and 2) analyze.
3. How can hotel increase direct booking with digital marketing?
Prospecting, Retargeting, Retailing.
It’s time to stop competing with the OTAs using their same weapons. It’s not all and just about Meta search engines, SEO and pay-per-click on Google.
In other words, stop the price war at the bottom of the funnel. Long life to Top of the funnel.
4. What are your tips to increase hotel bookings when demand is low?
Copy/paste my answer from the previous point. Top of the Funnel!
When demand is low, there is very little space for making a difference at the time of purchase. But as we’ve seen, even when travel restrictions were ruling the entire World, people never stopped dreaming about traveling: if you manage to be there when they dream, you’ll be rewarded when they’ll finally plan and then book their trip to you.
5. What factors shall hotel consider to create profitable direct booking strategy in 2021?
Numbers never lie, but they are so easy to misrepresent.
To make it easy, it all boils down to one metric: CPS. Cost per Sale. How much does a booking cost?
Too often we get lost looking at metrics that, in the big picture, are nothing but vanity metrics. For example, a Search campaign on Google Ads may have a very good CTR, but how good is the traffic that it brought? Did the user use a search term that was pertinent to the keyword the hotel is bidding for? And again, did they convert? If so, what kind of conversion was that? A booking? A lead? Or call-from-ad?
This is the problem with so many agencies: they show you what they want you to see: conversions. But can a call-from-ad be as worthy as a reservation?
6. How can hoteliers turn top direct booking trends into smart conversion strategies for his hotel?
I’m probably not the right person to answer this question, for the simple reason that I don’t believe in “trends”.
There are no trends, just paths and behaviors that might change over time, yet remain the same for the biggest part.
For instance, every single account of Google Analytics can testify that the vast majority of our hotel website visitors do NOT convert in the first place. So, why do we keep insisting to try to convert every single user the very first time they land on our site?
7. How can hotel use Google Analytics data to increase direct bookings?
This is actually my favorite topic as there are so many hidden gems in Google Analytics. Yet 95% of its features remain unknown to many hoteliers and also marketers.
Let’s put it this way. Google Analytics deserves a 3-step approach: Monitor, Analyze, and Decide.
Whatever the status of your tracking in Google Analytics, in a matter of seconds you should be able to see and detect where the biggest pain points and business opportunities are. This is the monitoring phase, and it’s supported by scorecards, pie charts, time charts… in other words, visually you should have a first indication of where you should put your hands on.
Once identified the critical area of performance, you need to spend a bit of time digging. This is the “analyze” part and it’s all about reports, aka numbers. Visually reports are less sexy and appealing, but they give you way better insights.
Finally, it’s time to decide. There’s a saying that I really love and bring up every now and then: “If you torture your data long enough, it’ll confess to anything”.
Most times we don’t take the time needed to analyze what’s going on, ending up taking gut-based decisions.
And yes, this 3-step process takes time and energy, but if you don’t want your data to lie to you, you need to torture it long enough.
About Alessandro Crotti
Alessandro worked 7 years in different hotels, started as a Night-shift auditor, all the way up to Hotel Director. In between, he was Revenue Manager, his true calling.
It was in 2010 when he decided to move forward and combine Revenue Management with his other passion: E-Commerce.
Direct Your Bookings™ is the ultimate result of this powerful combination, what he defines as a bridge that connects pricing, hotel distribution, branding and marketing.