Restaurant Reservations: The Direct Booking War Is About More Than Just Your Rooms
By Allison Page, Founder & Head of Product
It's been more than 20 years since the first online travel agencies (OTA's) began making waves in the travel industry. Though, at the time, they were helping expand a hotel's reach to new audiences, it didn't take long for savvy hoteliers to realize these bookings came at a high cost. But the industry is fighting back with 'Book Direct' campaigns, and their efforts are paying off.
Imagine this scenario: a loyalty program guest has just booked their rooms directly with you for their stay. They're interested in dining at your on-site restaurant that evening. When they navigate over to the restaurant's web page to book a table, they are taken to a third party website to book their reservation. You're not only paying for your own guest to dine with you, you're also missing a critical opportunity to capture important information, such as email address, phone number, guest preferences and more, that can be used to personalize the guest experience and tailor future marketing efforts.
What's worse, if your restaurant happened to be booked for the evening, you never had a chance to offer a table at another property in your portfolio. But you can be sure, the third party booking service found them a table at a competitor's restaurant.
Let's be clear, using third-party booking services are a great marketing tool for your F&B outlets. These services attract new customers and increase brand awareness for your property. However, if you want to prioritize direct reservations, and the resulting benefits to your guest relationships, these services should be part of your marketing mix, not the entire strategy.
Here are a few of the ways we see innovative hotels putting direct booking front and center for their guests:
- Segment and tier your inventory: Offer preferred seating options or availability on your website, encouraging guests to book direct for primetime slots or a coveted table
- Differentiate the booking experience: Offer unique upgrades and experiences like a kitchen tour or mixology class
- Change-up your policies: Require credit cards to hold reservations and enforce cancellation fees made on a third-party site
- Tailor the in-service experience: Reward direct bookings with in-service perks, such as a unique tasting menu or complimentary cocktails
- Share the benefits: Promote direct restaurant reservations in all email communications to guests, across your social media channels, and on your website
- Educate your staff: Train staff to offer guests perks during their visit, and use your reservationists to tell guests about the benefits of booking direct
Think of direct online reservations for your restaurant the same way you do about direct online bookings for your rooms. It's a must-have. The data you collect can be used as the cornerstone of a more personalized experience for your guests, and a more efficient and profitable operation for your hotel.
If you'd like to be set up for success with direct reservations for your restaurants, rooftops, bars and pools, reach out to SevenRooms to learn more.
Sr. Manager, Brand Marketing