From staff training to SEO and relationship management to retargeting, knowing how to balance your direct booking budget can be an impossible task. With so many opportunities to allocate budget across your business, how can hoteliers prioritize their spend and then prove the results of their investment?

At the Direct Booking Summit in Miami, Stuart Butler, COO of Fuel Travel, and Pablo Delgado, CEO of Mirai, constructed their own ideal direct booking budgets live on stage, presenting delegates with practical plans on where to focus your resources. Watch the video to learn more about their proven blueprints, and how you can apply their strategies to your own hotel in 2020 and beyond.

First step:

  • Staff training: Continuously educate your staff or hire new people; remember that you can't sell rooms the same way today as you did years ago. Get your teams to attend events, talk to other successful hotels, listen to podcasts and read industry blogs.

  • Aligned incentives: Your digital, revenue, distribution and marketing areas have to be aligned.

  • Website and booking engine experience: give people the choice to book however they want and make the process seamless and easy.

  • Human-assisted bookings: hotels should outsource or keep in-house depending on their size and budget.

Second step:

  • Unique value proposition: find what your customer values are and create offers on your website that respond to these values.

  • Parity management: none of your strategies will be fruitful while your customers can find the best price somewhere else.

  • Analytics: ensure that your KPIs are unified across all teams.

Third step:

  • Booking engine: this should allow for meta integration, loyalty programs, different views and a simple booking process.

  • Website design: demonstrate your hotel’s unique services and offers, and clearly show why booking on your direct channel is better than booking with OTAs.

  • Content: Google marries a searcher’s intent with your website content, so make sure your listings and citations are up to date and FAQs are fleshed out. Compile a list of all the questions your teams get asked and answer them - it will help you understand what your guest wants to understand pre-, during- and post-booking.

  • Search and SEO: create strategies to optimize these factors - it’s great for getting website traffic!

Fourth step:

  • Brand marketing: make sure your customers can find your direct website. Google used to protect brands, but not anymore. Use Google Ads to ensure that your guest can find you online!

  • Metasearch: it is crucial for helping customers find your direct website and can be the leading driver for optimizing your ROI - that is if you’re not advertising that you’re being undercut.

  • Retargeting: this is a must for hotels looking to ensure guests who aren't entirely ready to book come back and commit to your hotel direct.

  • CRM: build various communication touch points across the entire journey. If you’ve done it right, you can collect information about your guests, improve relationships and build loyalty.

  • Loyalty: Train your staff to collect information from your guests and put real effort into building relationships with them to turn them into champions for your brand. Encourage them to share their stories and experiences on social media, which you can also share for your own marketing initiatives.

Fifth step:

  • Email bookings and CRM: email marketing can be one of the most efficient channels if you have segmented data and target people intelligently.

  • Reputation management - over 95% of people read reviews before making a booking, so make sure you respond and show that you care deeply about the guest.