Unlocking Direct Bookings – Sprint Digital’s Audit Reveals Ireland’s Hotels are not doing enough  

At Sprint Digital, we have many years of experience working with hotels and service apartments on their digital marketing strategy. We take pride in our diverse portfolio of clients spanning across Ireland, the UK, and continental Europe. Central to our mission is our dedication to helping hotels excel in selling their rooms directly through their own websites.

By strategically minimising reliance on external platforms such as online travel agents, we empower hotels to reduce costs and, in turn, offer better value to their customers. This approach aligns with our ethos of putting hotels in the driver’s seat of their online presence.

However, our recent audit of Irish properties has revealed troubling trends of hotels not putting their own websites first. Here’s a look at what we found:

The Audit

Driven by our commitment to supporting hotels in taking control of their online platforms, we embarked on a thorough audit of 60 independent hotel websites across Ireland. This initiative was motivated by the dynamic nature of the hospitality industry and the increasing importance of direct bookings in a turbulent travel market.

Our goal was to unravel some of the mystery behind why customers might choose to book with an online travel agency instead of on a hotel’s own website.

We used 30 evaluation criteria to see how hotels stacked up – and found a whopping 86% fell short of the mark.

Across our 30 different criteria, we looked at:

  • The book direct offer itself – were hotels offering lower rates, flexible terms, or enticing perks like late check-outs or welcome gifts?
  • Messaging on the website
  • User experience and functionality on the website
  • User experience, functionality and messaging on the booking engine
  • Social media presence
  • Marketing initiatives, including brand advertising and email

What did we find? Hotels can do much better

What we uncovered was rather startling. 86% of the hotels we assessed were neglecting basic optimisations, failing to meet the pass rate of just 60%. Only 8 out of the 60 hotels managed to impress, leaving a significant majority trailing behind, with over a third of those surveyed scoring below 40%.

The Results

Here are six key insights we unearthed during our audit:

1. Underutilised Homepage Potential

Despite many hotels offering lower rates on their websites, a mere 33% effectively highlighted this on their homepage, missing golden opportunities to capture the attention of potential guests.

2. Lack of Direct Booking Messaging

Only 28% of hotels conveyed incentives for direct booking on their special offers page, with even fewer integrating this messaging across other vital website sections.

3. Failure to Personalise Messages

Just 35% of hotels incorporated a display of their better rates into their ‘check availability’ widgets, ignoring the potential for tailored messaging and real-time pricing info that can boost conversions.

4. Overlooking Additional Perks

Despite offering exclusive perks for direct bookers, a mere 25% of hotels made these benefits clear in their package descriptions, leaving potential guests in the dark.

5. Neglecting Social Media Promotion

Astonishingly, 55% of properties neglected to post special offer links on their social media platforms, with only 15% actively leveraging social media to promote direct bookings.

6. Underinvestment in Brand Campaigns

Only 41% of hotels appeared at the top of search results for their own brand via sponsored ads on platforms like Google and Bing, indicating a missed opportunity to assert their brand presence online – and an opportunity for OTAs to display their own ads at the top of the page.

How Can You Improve Your Direct Bookings?

Reflecting on these findings, it’s clear that there’s ample room for improvement in many hotels’ book direct strategies. By honing online strategies and prioritising direct bookings, hotels can tap into a wealth of potential, ultimately driving business growth, increasing revenue, and enhancing guest satisfaction.

What is important for you and your hotel depends greatly on what online strategy you are currently investing in. Solutions might range from simple website improvements to a comprehensive overhaul of your online rate strategy.

Get Your Audit for Free

We believe in turning challenges into opportunities. That’s why we’re excited to introduce our exclusive Book Direct Audit, designed specifically to help hotels like yours unlock untapped growth potential. Let’s work together to enhance your online strategy and drive more direct bookings.

Find out more about our audit here or contact us now for a complimentary audit.

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