Spread your booking sources

Online Travel Agents
Big sources of bookings

Increasing direct bookings is the priority and we certainly help thousands of businesses grow theirs. The next priority is to ensure you have a good mix of other booking sources so you don’t have all your eggs in one basket. Too many bookings from one source creates a risk to your business.

If almost all your bookings come in from Bookingcom or Expedia there’s a danger of a single source being too dominant and any business knows that securing future success requires a healthy spread of bookings.

What if you were to fall out with your single biggest source of bookings, do you have any alternatives? Perhaps they decide to implement something you disagree with, do you have another source as back-up?  These are valid questions that could affect the sustainability of your business.

You also need to consider that each agent has their very own customer database and by working with a variety of them you maximise your exposure to potential new customers. If for example you only work with Expedia, you’ll only get Expedia customers and that will limit your business.

bestPriceA good healthy business mix includes plenty of direct bookings alongside a diversified strategy with Bookingcom and Expedia, but make sure you have a plan to increase direct bookings.

Secure your future bookings with a two priorities

1) Don’t rely on just one big source of bookings

Easy to use channel manager can help manage multiple sources of bookings without double entry or double bookings.

2) Invest in growing your direct bookings

Direct booking tips and blog articles to help grow your direct bookings

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42 thoughts on “Spread your booking sources

  1. Dear Craig,
    Thanks for that. What always puzzles me though is no matter even when we say to our regulars as they leave you can also book direct on line on our own website for your next visit and give them the business card with our own website details they still book via an on line agent next time! When you chat to them they tell you “That’s what came up”. It happened to me when I booked a place in Milan. I went on their site and booked a week there. When I got the confirmation it was from “Booking.com”. I couldn’t believe it. So now I understand what customers are talking about. But how does that happen?

    1. It’s no accident that sites like booking.com are coming higher than you in the search results. The big OTAs channel lots of the commission we pay them into adwords and SEO – so they completely dominate the search results. In addition, booking.com would also like hotels to personalise their profiles on their site so it looks even more like the customer is booking with the hotel direct.

    2. I have the same experience. E.g.: however TripAdvisor shows the link to our website with a Freetobook booking option, with our real prices without commission they over rule that link with their own or booking.com room rate promotions. The bad thing is that you have to pay about €400 annual subscription to TripAdvisor to be listed and get your website link shown on their site. Still they strongly promote their own booking links and charge commission for a booking.

  2. I suspect that they are googling your establishment or just accommodation in an area and because booking.com has such a powerful presence their site comes up top (it certainly is for us) the only way they’ll get you rather than an ota is actually typing your website address into the search bar.

  3. My thoughts entirely. Owners Direct have just introduced fees which travelers must pay, namely a “service fee”. WE pay THEM for advertising, which isn’t cheap (10% of our business) so they have no right to charge travelers as well for transactions garnered from our paid for advertising. We’ve now ceased our advertising with them completely. Their loss.

    1. They are looking to launch in the Spring 2017 and we have agreed with them to get it done by the end of this year.

  4. Dear Craig,

    One of the things the OTA’s do really well is the ease within their check-out process. I would like to opt for the possibility to turn on or off the information fields you need to capture as a business in order to accept a booking.

    In our case we put no value in capturing:
    Address / City / Postcode / Phone number

    Its just a thought but perhaps it is not all too difficult to let each FTB customer select the information fields they need to capture from their Guest in the check-out field?

    1. You have a good point and we have a work queue which includes some customisation for you on the booking process. It’s in the wish list.

  5. Hello, I would like to add a comment that there are quite a few Scottish based tour operators who have exposure to world wide markets (direct sell and wholesaling via overseas agents/operators) that a single accommodation might find difficult to gain access to.

    Scottish tour operators exhibit with VS/VB, conduct sales visits, attend workshops and can combine a number of items to provide a package/tour that overseas agents might find easier to sell than a single accommodation.

    And of course you don’t “pay” for this marketing service (in the form a commission) unless you actually get a booking. Commission need not be seen as an evil if it helps to generate business and reduce other marketing costs, including over-reliance on OTAs as outlined in the article.

  6. Found your article v. useful. I need easy to read, accurate articles like that to get me thinking in the right direction. well done.

  7. One of the reasons people end up booking with an OTA instead of direct is because when they google your property, Google puts a little pop up box where they can enter dates and this leads to Booking or another’s website availability calendar for your property. I’d really like Freetobook to add the functionality so that pop up box links to my website instead.

    1. Great idea, its one that we have contemplated a few times, I think a large number of our customers would like it. You do need to keep in mind that Bookingcom will be paying Google for that link, so it is likely that Google would also charge properties if it was to go direct.

    1. Yes you can do weekly stays with a minimum of 7 nights and you can close out arrivals/departures on certain days. So you can have a nominated day for changeover.

  8. HI

    2 questions

    when are you adding Airbnb to the list of booking agents that are added to your channel manager

    I have previously emailed asking for help in connecting to Tripadvisor and we got no reply from our email to you

    1. We are waiting for Airbnb to make a full connection, the ball is in their hands. As for TripAdvisor this is done in your TripAdvisor account, you don’t need to contact us you do it with them (our end is automatic)

  9. All good comments. We are driving hard to ‘spread the net’ in market penetration. One of the strategies that’s beginning to work for us is direct marketing through email groups to clubs (primarily motorcycle and sports car) and other groups. It takes a lot of effort to setup, but costs nothing to run and have a ‘carrot’ like a free drink on arrival. It’s a slow burn but beginning to work for us. My goal is to drop booking.com within a couple of years. BTW FTB is awesome.

  10. I also object to the new system at Owners Direct and feel like am being blackmailed “do it our way or you are history”. They take money from me and from our clients. Trouble is I have yet to find an alternative , even if smaller, who operates the way they used to. Any suggestions anyone?

    1. Yes we plan to connect with Hotel Bonanza because we (just like our customers) support lower commissions.

      1. Our B&B friends told us about Booking Bonanza and it sounds really great. 8% commission and they have a loyalty system that gives around 5% off the booking, they then reduce the commission rate by this amount.
        Just sounds great and will look into this.

        1. Yes we will always be on the lookout for lower commission connections for our customers 🙂

  11. I would like to know more about how Lance Gibbens conducts the email marketing including how he finds the groups and contacts them without getting labelled a spammer. In our busienss we would love to drop the OTAs or at least get so many direct bookings that the OTas become irrelevant.

  12. Channel Manager is great but as far as I can see the only channels worthwhile to guest houses is booking.com. Expedia/Hotels.com have a minimum requirement of 7 units. Any chance of your company doing a deal with Expedia to allow your smaller customers access to them?

    1. In the UK we can connect properties of all sizes to Expedia. I’m sure Expedia will start making that possible anywhere in the world. If you can get an Expedia account we can link it for you.

  13. Indeed it’s important to generate direct bookings instead of relying completely on OTA bookings.

    Hotel’s can encourage repeat guests to book directly via the hotels website by giving them promotional codes ( which is there already on freetobook). They can also provide free amenities like Wifi + Comp Water Bottle etc. for those guest booking directly via their own websites.

    Another way is to add the hotel details to free listing websites like https://lodginglists.com/ which displays all the hotels details like email, phone, website address without any fees or commissions.

    And yes its is tough to compete with OTA’s for SEO rankings as the spend heavily on Advertisements and SEO optimizations 🙁

    Hopefully days will come when the end users (Guests) starts to book directly with the hotels.

  14. Any chance of you making a deal with expedia/hotels.com so your customers can register with them with less than their minimum room requirement. We have only 3 units and I think their requirment was 7 so they turned us down

    1. We can register small properties with Expedia if you are in the UK there is no size restriction, we have properties with only one room. To do it login to your freetobook account and goto Tab “Plus” and “Expedia” on the orange bar. You can register through us.

  15. Bonjour ,
    je vous ai dejà ecrit plusieurs fois sans reponse de votre part
    encore une fois je souhaite mettre en place trip connect et souhaite avoir des explications pour le faire
    au plaisir de vous lire
    dar oulhoum

    1. You can see instructions on TripConnect from within your TripAdvisor account it is automatic. Freetobook will connect for you when you do it inside your TripAdvisor account.

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