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.)

15 Topic Ideas to fill-up your Social Media Content Calendar

15 Topic Ideas to fill-up your Social Media Content Calendar

You want to be consistent and make daily posts and, depending on the social media channel, you would like to post on all of them at least once a day.

Unfortunately, consistency can be next to impossible while you still have to run your business as a small boutique hotel owner. The best way to ensure your posting fresh new content on social media on a consistent basis is to create and use a content calendar.

By using online software such as Canva and Later.com you can batch create and schedule your social media ahead of time.


The saying goes – “If content is King – then consistency is Queen”

This takes some time to set-up but once you get the hang of it you’ll only need to spend an hour or two per month to schedule and automate a batch of social media content.

But how do you create fresh and engaging content for your platforms? How to do keep your followers wanting more?

The simple answer is posting a variety of interactive content. Here are just a few quick ideas for you to populate your content calendar with:

1. Short video tip/ educational videos

This is a great way of showing your Ideal Guest that you’re there to help them make the best of their trip. If you’re a Boutique Hotel in Hermanus think about a video on what to pack for a holiday at the beach – or if you’re a guide in Pilanesberg National Park – how about sharing some educational video clips on the various fauna and flora found in the park?

The main thing to keep in mind is what would speak to your Idea Guest Avatar and how can you show them you understand what they want, need and desire. This is why you need to make sure you have an Idea Guest Avatar to refer back to for ideas.

2. Go behind the scenes

Go behind the scenes and show them a peek of a day in the life of running your establishment. Show them the work that goes into making everything run smoothly. This could be your chef preparing a great dish, your grounds staff pruning the bushes and tending the organic veggie patch or even your housekeeper fixing up a room and making sure the mini-bar is stocked.

3. Sneak Peek

Show them what you have going on – or what is busy brewing when it comes to specials – if you and your team are hard at work getting all the decorations ready for your Valentine’s Package coming in February then share that with your audience.

4. Promote Yourself

You don’t want to do this too often else you might just look more “salesy” that you like to. You want to do this just once a week. Showing your Ideal Guest what they might be missing out on. So think about the various different facilities, activities or features your establishment has to offer and then share some images about that with a Call To Action to check out your website for more info.

Now most travelers like to book their next holiday straight after the last one or after a break – this means that the best times to post new promotions are on a Monday or directly after a school holiday, public holiday, long weekend or festive season.

If you’re running a special this would be the place to share that with them – creating a professional post in Canva to accompany your Special details.

Any reviews that you would love to share this would be the post to share them in. Set-up a review post template in Canva to help you create your artwork fast without losing your brand consistency.

The Promote yourself is a great post to promote any articles or informational blog post you post to social media channels – Think of the Traffic Funnel we discussed in the workshop. 

5. Ask Questions

Asking your followers questions is a great way to connect with them and to help you build trust. Let’s be real for a second, none of us enjoy a one-sided conversation. By asking you followers questions you not only show that you are truly interested in them but you also get to know what your guest like and dislike. It’s like a free market survey that actually helps you build trust.

PS: Just remember to interact and engage with your followers if they take the time to answer your question

6. This or that

As with Ask Questions – by giving your followers a choice – for example, loading two images onto your Instagram post – One of tiramisu and the other of a malva pudding – then asking your followers which one they would choose you:


  1. Peak their intrest and engagement.
  2. You show them that their opinion matters.
  3. You get to know the like and dislikes of your followers – Which will help you know what your Ideal Guest values.

7. Fill in the blank

Fill in the blank questions ask your audience to fill in the blank to a statement you provide.

These are great questions to tailor specifically to your Ideal Guest Avatar and generate engagement 

For example, a Safari company could post, Fill in the blank: my favorite animal of the big five is __________. Or, a travel agent could post, “Fill in the blank: My favorite travel destination is __________.”  

8. Get Personal

This is where you open up a bit and show your values and the thing you and your team do to make a difference.

Do you have someone on your staff who started out working in the gardens and now is head – sous chef? Share their story.

Or how about a cause that is close to your heart such as Safe the Rhino Foundation. In the description share some information about them and the amazing work they do with your audience.

    9. Be An Expert

    With this post, you can show your Ideal Guest that you’re not just another Boutique Hotel or activities company out to take their money. No, your heart and soul beats with hospitality and your main mission is to help them have the adventure of a lifetime.

    Share tips and tricks on traveling to your area as well as news and information that might affect their trip.

    Be their online travel expert in all thing South Africa, Mpumalanga or Safari. Become the source they go to when they need to get info on traveling in South Africa.

    10. Share The Love

    When you share the love you can show your followers a bit more about yourself. Share causes close to your heart or people that you feel have made a big difference in your industry.

    Tag your loyal followers and show that you appreciate their engagement and interaction with your company.

    11. Inspiration Quotes

    Quotes tend to get a lot of engagement on social media.

    Share one of your favourite inspiring travel quotes.

    You can style quotes on a beautiful photo or a plain coloured background using a design tool like Canva.com or apps like Textgram.

    Set-up a quote template – just as you would for the reviews – in Canva so you just have to add a few, download them and upload them into Later.com for scheduled posting.

    12. Thank Your Followers

    A simple thank you goes a long way.

    Don’t forget to thank you, followers, for taking the time to follow and engage with you online – show them your genuine appreciation.

    13. Small Business Saturday

    If you support local entrepreneurs and small business owners in your area – this is a great post to not only show your support but also help them build awareness with your Idea Guest.

    If you know your Idea Guest Avatar and you know that this is something they would love then share it. You creating a win-win-WIN for everyone.

    The small business wins because they get more exposure, you win for helping your guest with information and your guest win they might just be looking for just such a product.

    14. Public, School & Fun Holidays

    Keeping your Ideal Guest Avatar in mind, you can create fun content for your social media channels. If you know that your Ideal Guest might just be a fan of Squirrels.

    By sharing an image of a squirrel on your property and a caption:

    “Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day! This is Fred the local long-eared squirrel “ #SquirrelAppreciationDay

    You’ll be connecting with your Ideal Guest on a deeper level. Showing them that you like and appreciate what they like and appreciate. Plus you get to have a bit more fun with your post and let your creative side lose.

    15. Favourite Things

    This is a great way of showing your Ideal Guest that you have their interests at heart. By sharing travel apps that they might find useful, things that you love and gadgets to make their travel easier – you’re building trust and creating a friendship.

    For example – Let’s say your IGA is a single dad who loves traveling with his kids and sharing memorable vacations with them. He has a 3-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy – Maybe you know of a great lil gadget that will keep them entertained on the long ride from Gauteng to Plettenberg bay.

    You want to share this with your travelling dad. He would appreciate your forsight in helping solve a stressor for him.

    PS: I created all the post examples in Canva.com in less than 35 minutes.🥳

    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.)

    Ways to Increase Direct Bookings for your Boutique Hotel – Tip #8

    Ways to Increase Direct Bookings for your Boutique Hotel – Tip #8

    Want more Direct Bookings? Get Socialising!

    I have noticed how few Boutique hotels actually use the power of social media and it pains me sometimes. We live in such an amazing age – where marketing to your guest is something you can do 24/7 – 365. No need for expensive TV or radio ads. No need to place a big article in your local newspaper (which never make sense to me as the guest you want is from out of town). And no need to print expensive brochures year after year, only to throw half away because your prices have changed.

    With the internet comes this amazing ability to, not only research your Ideal Guest Avatar but to market to them directly without wasting any money on advertising. With platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, you have the tools to create tailor-fitted marketing profiles to suit your Ideal Guest Avatar perfectly.

    Yes, there is a strategy and a learning curve involved. But to avoid working on your digital marketing is the worst mistake you can make. Information technology is a rapidly growing market that is increasing at such an exponential rate – if you think by avoiding it you can still do good business down the line you are making a big mistake. The growth is at such a rate that with every passing day that you don’t invest in learning you are falling behind months and even years.

    If you want to increase your bookings invest some time in getting to know the online marketing game. See how you can use it to speak to your Ideal Guest Avatar and start creating consistent entertaining and informative content.

    PRO TIP: Start with the social media platforms you are already familiar with and use them to send potential guests to your website.
    Ways to Increase Direct Bookings for your Boutique Hotel – Tip #7

    Ways to Increase Direct Bookings for your Boutique Hotel – Tip #7

    Focus on 1-2 Social Media Platforms per year

    It’s very easy to get FOMO when it comes to what Social Media Platforms works best for your Boutique Hotel. You are scared that you might be missing out on a great marketing opportunity if you don’t use this or that platform.

    With today’s social media culture you have the ability to make any platform work for you so long as it is where your Ideal Guest Avatar likes to get their social fill.

    So here’s what you need to do:

    1. Look at your Ideal Guest Avatar – Where would this Avatar most likely hang out online?
    2. Look at your personal social media preferences – which correlate with your Ideal Guest Avatar? This will make it easier for you to start off immediately without too much of a learning curve.
    3. Now if you have 1 or two that match up start actively sharing on these platforms.
    4. Pick at most 2 platforms to master per year. It’s better to be actively sharing on 2 channels than registering on 10 and not sharing on any.
    5. And don’t just share! Engage with your followers! – It’s not all about gaining more followers – it’s about speaking with those that are already part of your online fan base. Comment on their comments – Like their comments – open a conversation.

    Still stuck on what platforms will work best?

    Here are some suggestions:

    Facebook – It’s a great one to start with as it is one of the biggest platforms out there. Facebook also has the most diverse demographic of all the platforms. BONUS they have some great opportunities when it comes to online marketing with Facebook Ads. You can also share videos on this platform which will get extra boosting due to Facebook prioritizing video sharing in an effort to knock off Youtube as the main video sharing platform.

    Instagram – This is a very visual platform where people – especially millennial – love to go for traveling inspiration and to see where their peers hangout.  It works well in conjunction with Facebook with cross-marketing built in. so even if you focus on these two for a start you are well on your way.

    Youtube – if you want to share longer more in detail or more entertain media with your Ideal Guest Avatar then this is the platform to use. Let’s say you are a Boutique Hotel Resort based in a stunning nature reservation. You can have your game rangers sharing informative videos on the local wildlife and/or the activities you have to offer on the resort. What is nice about this is that you can upload the videos to Youtube Website and also share them via Youtube on your own site in the weekly posts.

    Pinterest – This is great for people if you want to share Tips and Tricks for traveling to your area. It is a bit more limited as we mostly see people using it more as an inspiration board than actually actively engaging with the posts. I would suggest if you want to share on this Pinterest that it be more of a “5 tips for packing for your ideal vacation in the Bahamas” type of posts. Plus engagement is a bit limited here.

    These are the top social media platforms I would suggest to start off with. I know there are many more. If you have any that you particularly like and would like to know how to utilize them to their full potential. Comment below or drop me a mail.

    Ways to Increase Direct Bookings for your Boutique Hotel – Tip #6

    Ways to Increase Direct Bookings for your Boutique Hotel – Tip #6

    Keep it In-House

    Your Boutique Hotel is unique and you have a unique story to share. This is why I tell my clients it is so crucial to have someone on your team that can lead your digital marketing. They understand your vision and values and know what makes you unique, they are there every day to capture those special moments that will just be great content to share with your guests. Traffic Generating content because that leads to bookings.

    With the Millennials and Generation Z obsessively engaging with social media – instead of rebuking them – recruit them to work their social media magic for your booking benefit. They already know how most of the social media and online platforms work, all you have to do is give them the vision and the training to use those skills to increase your website traffic, generate social media traffic funnels and increase your direct bookings.

    Now if you have a member of your team that you know would be a great candidate but not sure what they are supposed to do? I offer a unique once a year Online Course that runs from September to October. This 8 Week Course will help your Marketing Team build a strategy that is tailored to your Boutique Hotel’s Ideal Guest Avatar and will help you plan a 12-month action blueprint using online marketing to increase traffic to your site and increase direct bookings.

    If you would like to hear more about my Online Course fill in the form below and get in contact.

    (Note: This form is a once of contact form and your details will not be stored on our database)


    7 + 9 =

    × How can I help you?