As important as OTA partnerships are, independent hotels live and die by their ability to generate enough direct bookings to remain profitable.

But, direct bookings do so much more than that. They raise the profile of your brand in the minds of guests and give you the opportunity to connect with them on a far more personal level.

There are some effective, simple ways to boost the number of direct bookings your hotel receives, but you’ll need to get ahead of the game and start planning for the future – today.

Make sure your online booking platform is awesome

There’s no getting around it; the online booking engine you offer on your own website needs to be fast, efficient and enjoyable to use.

If it doesn’t respond well to smaller screens, asks guests for an inordinate (i.e. pointless) amount of detail or takes forever to load, they’ll quickly head elsewhere.

It should be linked directly to your hotel property management software and capable of retaining your branding throughout the booking process.

Ensure you show off the best your hotel has to offer

There’s a reason websites like TripAdvisor and place such high importance on photo galleries – attractive imagery sells hotel rooms.

Humans are visual creatures, so make sure you give potential bookers what they’re looking for in the form of beautiful, original and professional-quality photos of your rooms, foyer, gym, restaurant and anywhere else within the building that is particularly eye-catching or unique.

Treat your website to plenty of SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of tuning a website so that it looks tempting to Google. You want the search giant to unearth your website during relevant queries and push it as far as possible up the results pages.

This is only possible if you either pay handsomely for Google Ads placements (expensive and largely fruitless in this industry) or invest smartly in SEO.

Do the latter. Although it might be a marketing cost you could do without right now, it’s one of the best investments you can make in securing a sustainable, profitable source of direct bookings in the future.

Encourage – and embrace – online feedback

Yeah, you read that right – in order to encourage direct bookings, you need to embrace online feedback.

That means dropping any preconceptions you have about TripAdvisor reviews and instead reacting positively to all of them – good and bad.

The more exposure your hotel receives on review websites, and the more you interact with viewers as the owner of the business, the more likely potential guests are to continue researching your property. And that might lead them to the doors of your own website.

Be aggressive with your advertising

Even if you’re a family-run hotel with decades of tradition behind it, you still need to take an aggressive approach to advertising and marketing your own website.

It’s a tough, competitive market out there, but one that can be tamed with great, to-the-point marketing.

Just had a refurb? Shout about it! Discovered that your spa offers far more facilities than your nearest competitor? Name and shame them (just be careful not to be defamatory or personally insulting).

If you have the budget for it, don’t be afraid to try retargeting and banner advertising in order to drive traffic to your website. Give people a reason to book direct, no matter how much of a noise you have to make to get them to do so.

Wrapping up

Direct bookings don’t have to be fly-by-night affairs or seemingly impossible to control. Use our strategies above consistently, and you should see plenty of people booking via your own digital doors, rather than someone else’s.

CMS Hospitality holds over 30 years of experience in delivering hospitality software solutions. CMS offers the most complete solution in hospitality software, whether you’re running a hotel, a resort or a hostel. Our highly experienced support and installations team holds a unique understanding of the hospitality industry. We will aim to provide software that suits your property’s needs.

Call us today at (+61) 2 9440 9711, or email us at We will be happy to guide you to the CMS Hospitality solution that’s right for you.