Sumari is lovely and held our attention the whole 3 days…

I feared that I would be way behind others who have been in tourism for years, however, I liked being in a classroom environment as we learned from other participants as well.

I enjoyed being able to clarify with Sumari points I was not 100% clear on.

I would recommend this workshop to anyone regardless of their knowledge of Marketing. Everyone got something out of the course.

It was an enjoyable workshop and I look forward to the 9 Pillars of Online  Marketing Workshop!!!!

Annie Williams

Owner, Kingfisher Creek Lodge

5 Ways to get more direct bookings

5 Ways to get more direct bookings

Just imagine actually getting 80% of your bookings directly – no payment of over-the-top commissions, no worries about non-arrivals and cancelation fees – actually being able to have more control of the guest experience.

I know for many a small hotel or activities company this might actually feel like a far-fetched dream. In almost each and every one of my workshops I get the “Yeah, that sounds great, BUT….” remark when we discuss this topic.

“BUT … then none of the OTA want to work with us”

“BUT… then we have tour operators telling us that they don’t like it if we offer better deals… what about them?”

What about them? Are they going to bail you out if you don’t fill your beds? Can they guarantee you 80% bookings and make a deal saying they are will to work exclusively with you? Will the cover the cancelation fees for no-shows?

With today’s amazing opensource technology making it easy for you to build your own website, take high-definiition video and photographs, even programs like Canva giving you the power to design professional marketing material.

You have the ability to take back the control and run your bed & breakfast marketing all from the comfort of your own couch – all you need is a laptop, smartphone and internet access.

The most important part is to build an audience of people who love your brand and love your story. The best way to do that is to build trust by sharing your authentic self. 

52% of OTA visitors clicking on the hotel website in order to receive more information on the hotel

 If you would like to start boosting your direct booking then here are a few tips on how you can start today to increase traffic to your website and in-turn increase your direct bookings:

1. Become a fountain of knowledge


Share what you know with your Ideal Guests. Tell them about what’s happening in your area, in your province, and in your country. Be the source of news they go to if they want to know what to do.

This is a great way to build trust with your potential guest, to show them that you are all about their amazing journey. Be guest-centric, and document content that will educate, inform and entertain your guests.

Think about how little you like to be bombarded with sales calls all day. So why would your guest be any different?

Show them that you are the expert in your area and you are the best person they can chat to if they want to have an awesome adventure in South Africa.


2.For every sales pitch soften the blow with 3 informative articles


This is the formula I would suggest. Before you pitch your latest promotion or package deal.

First, introduce your self. You don’t just walk up to the girl of you your dreams and propose marriage off the bat?

Well, your guests aren’t any different. They want to be courted, slowly, and they want to get to know you before jumping in your bed….😉(pun intended)

So how do you do that – well start documenting and sharing your everyday happenings? If you are a Boutique Hotel owner start sharing on your blog about the amazing organic veggie patch you started for your chef.

 Document and share how your team works tirelessly to make sure that every guest stay is special.   Tell them about the amazing fun-run race taking place next week and show how your staff get ready and prepare for new guest – then document their participation and share that on your blog.

Your blog is like your diary where you share aspects of your hotel’s life with potential guests. Once you have shared atleast, and I mean at the very least, 3 entertaining, informative or educational pieces of content – then show them a great special you have coming up for Easter Weekend.

If you can share more free content before the sales pitch then do so. The more you share free info the easier it is for your potential guest to make the booking, because they feel like they know you.

3.Build that Email List


Within your Email Contact list lies a gold mine of potential returning guests. Plus the great thing about them – They are already 70% sure they want to book with you.

Why? Well because they have already gone through the booking journey with you.

We tend to always focus on trying to get a new guest to book – forgetting about the ones who have already booked with us and loved it.

We expect them to know that they can book again. Don’t just sit and wait for them to call you again. Send them small reminders of how great their time was with you.

Set-up a weekly or monthly newsletter that sends them summaries of your amazing entertaining and informative blog posts.

 This way every Monday morning, when they dread the fact that their weekend is over, they open their emails and BAM! your newsletter pops-up.

They’re reminded of the amazing time they had and want to book another trip ASAP. Before the caffeine hits and their boss starts breathing down their neck.

4. Create an Events Page 


As my TOW crew will tell you, this is one of the secret weapons I suggest for every tourism business out there. Add an events category to your blog TODAY!

Contact local events companies and ask them to share their calendars with you of upcoming events. This way they get more publicity for their event. PLUS you get the added benefit of traffic to your website for anyone doing a search for things to do or searching for a specific event.

Think about it like this, a potential guest, love Riana Nel and she’s playing at Innibos this year – but your guest not sure which dates or where they’ll go and google “Riana Nel Innibos 2019”.

Now the results are going to be the Innibos Homepage, and then every OTA that has taken advantage of this strategy and posted about the event. 

But what if you, as a small hotel owner, add a lil story about Innibos and maybe chat to the organizers about why they love the event – or share your own experiences of the previous year’s event and how much you enjoyed Riana’s show.

Now what happens, your potential guest, sees that you are an avid Riana Nel fan, Just-Like-THEM! “OMG, we have something in common, OH and you have a great boutique hotel situated close to the event AND YOU OFFER TRANSFERS TO AND FROM THE EVENT? OMG!!!!😱”

Guess who they’re more likely to book with?

5. Share your blog posts on Social Media


Once you have created your amazing content start sharing the links to Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.


Create a traffic funnel of clicks back to your website.


This is one of the great ways of boosting traffic to your website – share those blog posts on your own website and then share the links to them on Facebook. Especially if you have something informative or entertaining. 


Five simple and easy ways to create traffic more traffic for your website.

Remember the more traffic you have the better the chances of getting direct bookings – about 2%, on average, of your total website traffic will convert to online bookings.

Think about how much traffic you need to have on your site daily to convert 2% of your traffic to 80% occupancy. i.e. if you have 10 rooms and you want 10 bookings per day you need about 500 people per day visiting your site.

Need some inspiration for your Social Media Content Calendar?

This is a PDF Document that gives you an example of what the next three (March-May 2019) months of can be for your Social Media.

It gives you a prompt for every day that allows for variety and consistency. I even worked in all the public and school holidays for South Africa – taking the brunt of batch planning off your plate.😉

It’s a SHARABLE!📢 

Was this post helpful & inspiring? Don’t keep it to yourself – SHARE IT WITH YOUR FELLOW ASSOCIATION MEMBERS!

(Just remember the more people creating content & talking about your city, province or country the more traffic and attention you get from travelers & search engines alike.)

I really enjoyed every aspect of the workshop

Social media seems overwhelming to us “older” people, however, I have a much better understanding of the method behind any form of digital marketing. Also a much better understanding of how everything works hand in hand.

I liked all the little tips and tricks of other websites/applications that can simply what seem to be daunting tasks.

I think in this day and age we all need to be more digital and have a bigger online presence.

I am glad that the course was split into 3 half days – its a bit less overwhelming on the mind.

I really enjoyed every aspect and feel like I came back with a much better understanding which was exactly my aim.

Carol van der Westhuizen

Owner, GAP Tours

So much to learn!

What stood out to me was the section on how to determine your Ideal Guest Avatar.

Fear that I will not be able to always follows everything ( because I was the oldest in the class! 😆)

However, there was always lots to learn from somebody in the business for a long time.

I really enjoyed this workshop! Thank you!

Kallie Kalmeier

Owner, Lowveld Link Travel

It was an absolute eye-opener!

I was afraid I was going to feel totally stupid. I never once did feel stupid though. Thanks for that!

I came to the realisation that online marketing could be fun, but also that it is a full-time job. I strongly recommend that you suggest to older people that they bring along a youngster colleague it makes it doubly useful.

It was an absolute eye-opener, I was encouraged to find that we were on the right track but you have turned that rather bumpy track into a highway!

Many thanks for all your effort in putting it together and in making it so relevant to us as tourism product owners.

Chris Harvie

Owner, The Rissington Inn

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