There are many ways your business can manage bookings, traditional methods like phone or email remain the primary source of bookings for many businesses. We also know that direct bookings to your own website are important and with the ongoing growth of mobile usage, you’d be wise to have a mobile responsive website.
The reality is not all bookings will come direct via either of these methods and you’ll need to establish partnerships and relationships to increase your bookings, in this post we’ll explain how and why.
What are the benefits of direct bookings?
The more direct bookings you can get to your business the better. Generally, these bookings will cost you less per customer and they have added benefits.
The benefits are;
- It’s the simplest (once you are familiar with the process) – you control the sales process and the relationship with the customer.
- It’s also generally cheaper with no commission – or little commission to the booking system
- You own the entire customer journey – you can create a relationship before they arrive
- You control over their experience – to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction
- You have the relationship from the get-go and for future visits and referrals – completely autonomous
There are also costs, but in todays environment you cannot afford not to be online even if you haven’t currently got a booking system!
- Investment in your online presence – consider both financial and human resource costs, both start up and ongoing.
- Online marketing – you time to expose your product to the market, you cannot set and forget
- Pay to grow your audience – any online advertising costs you may incur
In order to grow your business we think that…..
You should also consider working with partners e.g. regional organisations, industry bodies, other operators
By working together all parties can benefit and improve the visitor experience, increase their length of stay and increase the economic benefit to the region.
By working together the benefits are:
- An extended reach to the same market segment – you are more likely to get conversions as all parties are working to the same end
- You’ll get more bang for your buck by working cooperatively
- No or low commission when compared with alternatives
- An Improved length of stay and visitor spend for destination – this is a win-win situation, especially if you use your local knowledge to recommend experiences, restaurants and stop off etc
The costs are:
- Similar to the direct method
- The effort required in nurturing and maintaining relationships – this can be a very positive experience
- Establishing and maintaining clarity in terms of relationship
- Without a commercial contract, risks are increased
So, how do you Establish Strong Partnerships?
In order to work cooperatively you need to take the following steps.
- Identify what your business needs e.g. more week night bookings, wedding business, (what’s the hook?)
- Seek businesses that can help you do that, it might be an activity, a transfer, an out of region business
- Aim is for the arrangement to be mutual
- Spell out benefits for each partner
- Map out the itinerary or package
- Define the operational process
- Assess how to take it to market
By working together with relationships of trust you will all benefit and so will your customers. Why not try this strategy and see if it works for you? and remember my final tip – always review and refine!