How to Boost Direct Bookings and Reduce OTA Fees

Want to save money on OTA commissions? Boost your profits by shifting to direct bookings. Learn tactics to gain greater independence and financial advantage.

April 29, 2024

Did you know that OTA commissions can be as much as 30% on a booking?

Imagine what you could do with that money you are paying.

These fees can vary based on several factors, including the OTA's market power, location, and whether the property is VAT-registered under EU regulations. High commission rates can significantly impact the revenue and pricing strategies of hotels and vacation rentals, making it crucial for property owners to consider these costs when choosing to list with an OTA.

Are you looking to maximize your revenue and guest satisfaction? Breaking free from high OTA commissions could be the key. Direct bookings might be your best strategy.

Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) have become a go-to resource for many travelers looking to book accommodations.

Here are ten reasons people often choose OTAs instead of booking directly with hotels or vacation rentals.

And how direct bookings can offer comparable or superior alternatives to guests.

Comparison Shopping

Think OTAs are the only way to scan the market? Think again. Direct booking websites can offer detailed insights that go beyond simple price comparisons.

OTA Advantage:

OTAs provide a platform to compare prices, amenities, and locations of multiple properties.

Direct Booking Benefit:

Your own website can offer detailed, transparent pricing and comparisons of different room types, packages, and exclusive offers not available on OTAs. You can enhance this with high-quality images and descriptions that better convey the unique aspects of your property.

Deals and Discounts

Skip the middleman and access exclusive deals and seasonal promotions not available through OTAs. Offer loyalty rewards for repeat guests, providing a better value than OTA-negotiated rates. This direct approach not only enhances savings but also cultivates guest loyalty.

OTA Advantage:

OTAs negotiate special rates and discounts that may not be available when booking directly.

Direct Booking Benefit:

Offer exclusive deals, seasonal promotions, and discounts that are only available when booking directly through your website. You can also provide loyalty discounts or rewards for repeat guests, which can outcompete OTA offerings.

Real Feedback from Real Guests:

guest reviews

Direct bookings enable you to collect genuine, unfiltered reviews directly on your site. Showcasing these testimonials helps build trust and offers a transparent view of what guests really think, ensuring all feedback directly contributes to service improvements.

OTA Advantage:

OTAs feature a wide range of customer reviews, which help prospective guests make informed decisions.

Direct Booking Benefit:

Direct bookings bring transparency to guest feedback. Prominently feature real, unfiltered testimonials on your site to build trust and showcase your commitment to guest satisfaction.

Bundle Offers:

"Unlike the standard packages on OTAs, direct bookings allow you to offer personalized bundles. Create unique travel experiences by including local attractions, dining credits, and exclusive activities tailored to your guests' preferences, making each stay memorable and more satisfying.

OTA Advantage:

Travelers save money by booking packages, including flights, hotels, and car rentals.

Direct Booking Benefit:

Personalize your guests' experiences with custom bundle offers. Go beyond standard OTA packages by including unique local attractions and exclusive services, creating memorable stays tailored to individual preferences."

Reward Loyalty More Meaningfully:

Loyalty matters more when it's rewarded directly. By providing more personalized benefits, you can offer exclusive loyalty programs that beat OTAs.

OTA Advantage:

OTAs offer loyalty programs that reward frequent users with points redeemable for future discounts.

Direct Booking Benefit:

Reward your guests more personally with custom loyalty programs. Offering benefits like free upgrades and late check-outs fosters a deeper connection and encourages repeat visits.

Wide Selection

Think OTAs have the most options? Direct bookings often reveal hidden gems not listed on mainstream platforms, offering unique stays that turn a trip into an experience.

OTA Advantage:

OTAs provide a vast selection of properties, from major hotels to boutique rentals.

Direct Booking Benefit:

Showcase your property's unique charm. Direct bookings allow you to highlight distinctive accommodations and exceptional amenities that set you apart from standard OTA listings.

Ease of Use

When was the last time you pretended to be a user and tried to make a reservation from your own website? Your vacation rental or hotel website must be user-friendly, making direct bookings as easy as OTAs but with a more personal touch.

OTA Advantage:

OTA platforms are user-friendly, with robust support and easy cancellation policies.

Direct Booking Benefit:

Ensure a seamless booking experience on your intuitive website. Match the convenience of OTAs with user-friendly navigation and support, making direct bookings just as easy but more personal.

Market Visibility


Emerging properties need visibility to thrive. Discover how direct bookings can offer effective exposure without the dependencies of OTAs.

OTA Advantage:

OTAs help smaller or newer properties gain market visibility.

Direct Booking Benefit:

Increase your property's visibility with smart, direct booking strategies. Use targeted SEO and active social media engagement to attract a broader audience without relying on OTAs.

Payment Flexibility

payment flexibility

Payment flexibility is crucial to convenience. See how our direct booking options, from installment plans to varied payment methods, provide more flexibility than OTAs.

OTA Advantage:

OTAs often allow payments at booking or at the property, sometimes offering installment plans.

Direct Booking Benefit:

Offer flexible payment options that OTAs can't match. Provide various payment methods and transparent pricing to cater to your guests' convenience, ensuring a smoother booking experience.

Global Reach

OTA Advantage:

OTAs support multiple languages and cater to international payment methods.

Direct Booking Benefit:

Enhance the international traveler's experience with multilingual support and diverse payment options on your site. Offer personalized services to meet the needs of guests from different backgrounds.

Direct bookings allow for a more personalized guest experience, which can lead to higher guest satisfaction and repeat business.

These strategies not only help build a direct relationship with customers, which fosters brand loyalty, but they also aid in reducing dependency on OTAs, thereby saving on hefty commission fees. Implementing user-friendly website designs, engaging with customers through personalized marketing, and providing exclusive online content is also pivotal in encouraging direct bookings.

Actionable Steps to Increase Direct Bookings

Steps to Increase Direct Bookings

Optimize Your Website:

Make Booking Easy: Simplify your website's navigation to guide visitors smoothly to the booking button. A clear, user-friendly layout ensures potential guests don't get frustrated and leave.

Speed Matters: A slow website is one of the biggest turn-offs for online users. Use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to analyze and improve your site's loading times to keep users engaged.

Looks Great on Any Device: With more bookings than ever happening on mobile, ensure your website is responsive. A site that adjusts seamlessly across devices enhances user experience and boosts booking chances.

Show Off Your Space: Use high-quality photos and videos to showcase your property's best features. Pair this visual appeal with effective SEO strategies to increase your online visibility and attract more direct bookings.

Implement User-Friendly Technology:

Always Available to Chat: Integrate a chatbot like BotPenguin, which can handle bookings, answer FAQs, and provide support anytime. This tool is easy to set up and offers a free starter plan.

Walk Them Through Virtually: Use tools like Roundme to create virtual tours of your property. Allowing potential guests to virtually explore spaces significantly boosts their likelihood of booking.

Personalize the Booking Experience:

Let Them Have It Their Way: During the booking process, allow guests to customize their rooms and choose special packages. Personal touches like this can make guests feel valued and increase their loyalty.

Enhance Direct Communication:

Become a Local Guide: Start a blog to share insights about local attractions and updates about your property. This will improve your SEO and establish your property as a knowledgeable source for the area.

Keep the Conversation Going: Utilize email marketing to maintain a relationship with past guests. Platforms like Mailchimp are excellent for sending out personalized offers and updates, keeping your property at the forefront of your mind.

Leverage Social Media and Encourage Reviews:

Get Social: Regularly post on social media to engage with past and future guests. Use attractive images, guest reviews, and special offers to encourage followers to book directly.

Feedback is Gold: Actively encourage guests to leave reviews and respond to them publicly. This builds trust and demonstrates that you value customer feedback and are committed to improving the service quality.