I recently stayed in a hotel where they had a VIP program for guests who booked directly.
This is a very inexpensive yet powerful approach that hotels can use to promote direct bookings and help turn the tide on the online travel agents.
Upon check-in the receptionist immediately noticed that I had booked directly and guided me to a VIP check-in area. I also noticed another lady was asking guests in the check-in queue if had they booked directly. If yes, they were directed to the VIP desks.
The VIP desk was a seated area and was a lot more comfortable than your standard stand up check-in.
At the VIP desk I was offered any drink of my choice – beer, wine or coffee. The staff were excellent and made it very clear that they were making a big fuss because I had booked directly. The receptionist also advised that most rooms weren’t ready yet for early check-in. However, because I booked directly and was now a VIP, she found a clean room for immediate check-in.
When I arrived at the room there was a box of chocolates on the bed with a big sticker that said ‘VIP booked Direct’. There was also a complimentary VIP 1/4 bottle of wine. I was impressed!
When you boil down the costs of providing the VIP service it is far less than the high commissions that will be paid to the OTAs.
No extra staff were required to man the VIP desk. The receptionist simply moved with me from reception to the VIP area. A little bit of real estate in the foyer is all that’s required.
Tea/coffee at check-in
Small box of truffles
Quarter bottle of wine
Taking this approach will change the mindset of customers so it becomes very clear that booking directly with the hotel offers the best value and service.
If every guest experienced the same VIP treatment for booking directly, they would choose the hotel’s own website every time they make a reservation. This would save the global hotel industry billions in commissions every year.
Hotel chains, industry associations & forums can all help to spread the word.
Booking.com had turnover of US$10.7 Billion in 2016 which would be mainly derived from commissions. It’s high time the collective hotel industry started to take back this revenue for itself!
© Keith Slowey 2017