5 Reasons Your Hotel’s Direct Booking Campaigns Fail (And How To Avoid Them)


You already know that driving more direct bookings for your hotel is the key to long term financial health and success for your hospitality business. You’re ready to maximize your direct bookings with a robust digital marketing strategy. You’ve hired a hotel digital marketing agency to help you reach your goals. But alas, your campaigns are not producing the results or ROAS you need to achieve your revenue goals. How can you fix this? GCommerce is here to help. Here are the top 5 reasons your hotel’s direct booking marketing campaigns are not producing better results.

1. Your Hotel’s Rates Are Getting Undercut By the OTAs

You’re spending thousands of dollars to drive qualified traffic to your website but reservation contributions from OTAs keep going up. You’re running marketing campaigns that are well-targeted and focus on all parts of the consumer journey, including bottom of the funnel branded terms and retargeting campaigns. Your website is well optimized, easy to navigate and provides a great user experience. After reviewing your hotel’s revenue management you find the culprit. You’re selling rooms for lower rates on the OTA channels than on your own website. Today’s consumers are intelligent and use a variety of websites and tools to ensure they are securing the best price for their hotel stay. If you’re selling the same room for a lower rate on the OTAs, guests are not going to book directly through your website. Make sure you are monitoring the OTAs and offering the lowest rate only through your website. 

2. You’re Targeting the Wrong Audience

You dive into your hotel website’s Google Analytics and find high bounce rates, low conversion rates, and your ads just aren’t getting engagement. The cause may be that you’re targeting the wrong audience. Maybe your paid search keywords are too broad, maybe your demographics aren’t right or maybe your interest targeting on Facebook doesn’t correlate to your brand or product offering. 

How can you fix this? At GCommerce, we approach every client campaign with a customized approach. We create audience recommendations based on the client’s first-party data and brand strategy. Google Analytics and your hotel’s PMS is a great place to start to identify geotargets, demographics and other campaign targeting ideas. There are many different types of audiences and targeting across platforms. Here are a few of our favorite audience creation examples:

  • Create a targeted Facebook look-a-like audience off of your Facebook page followers to find new potential fans/guests to target with prospecting ads
  • Create a Google Ads segmented customer match audience of your top revenue-generating guests and target them across Google’s network
  • Target a customer audience list of website visitors that have included children in their search for date availability on your site

Make sure you are using data to guide your decisions and adjust your targeting as you discover what works and what doesn’t. 

3. Your Hotel’s Campaign Budget Needs to Be Adjusted

Maybe your direct booking campaigns are failing to hit your goals because your budget is not well allocated. Maybe your current budget is too low to drive the sufficient awareness, traffic and conversions you need in order to drive enough revenue or leads. Or maybe you have too much of your budget allocated to awareness campaigns when you need to be pushing some budget to campaigns and media platforms that drive more ROAS. At GCommerce we calculate recommended budgets based off of your hotel’s historical analytics and campaign data as well as estimates provided by each platform’s tools. Since these calculations utilize estimates, it’s important to re-evaluate campaign targets on an ongoing basis. We recommend reviewing campaign performance each month to understand what channels are helping you achieve your KPIs and which ones are not. Depending on your results, you can adjust budget between channels accordingly. 

4. Your Campaign’s Messaging Doesn’t Speak to Your Audience

You’ve created a well-crafted set of customer personas based on your target guests. You’ve carefully selected the best audiences based on these personas. You’ve created great content and your website is well optimized. You launch your campaigns but engagement metrics are low and underperforming. 

How can you fix this to drive more qualified traffic to your hotel’s website? Focus on your ad messaging. Have you created messages that speak to your target persona and how your hotel solves all of their problems, eases their worries, or provides the exact type of experience they desire? Many times ad messaging is too broad and generic. Craft targeted messaging that speaks to each of your target personas to improve your campaign performance. Some example strategies:

  • Targeting mothers who are in charge of planning their family vacations? What matters most to them while they are searching for a family vacation? See the below example for a luxury guest ranch targeting parents searching for their next family vacation:
  • This ad for Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa targets parents of young children with Dollywood interests. The messaging focuses on the magic of the new Wildwood Grove park:
  • Targeting couples looking for a unique romantic escape? How can you address their concerns and desires? See the below example for a luxury guest ranch targeting couples during a shoulder season need period:
  • This ad for Sunset Marquis West Hollywood aims to target those uber-luxury guests like celebrities and the elite. The messaging is coy and focuses on privacy and comfort:
  • Targeting fans coming to town for a sports event? Try something like this Hotel 43 Ad that speaks to BSU fans traveling to Boise and offers them a special fan rate:

5. Your Website Isn’t Built to Convert

Your marketing teams have built data-driven audiences, strategies, and ads. They’ve optimized campaigns repeatedly but your website traffic isn’t converting. Across all of your hotel’s website traffic channels, the bounce rate is high, conversion rates are low and website visitors aren’t engaging with your site content. The reason could be that your website needs to be updated for better conversions. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. Does the design and style of my hotel’s website accurately portray the hotel brand and on-property experience? 
  2. Is the imagery and media on my hotel’s website appealing and allow the visitor to experience the hotel’s rooms, amenities, and ambiance before they even step foot on property?
  3. Is important information about my hotel easy to find on my website? Can a visitor easily navigate around the website?
  4. Is there a clear path for the visitor to take action and book a reservation or contact the hotel?

If you answer “no” to any of these questions you probably need to revamp your website or consider launching a new one. Your hotel’s website is your online storefront and if it doesn’t look good, is outdated or doesn’t provide the information and imagery a consumer needs in order to feel confident in booking, they aren’t going to make a reservation at your hotel. As a result, your direct booking campaigns won’t convert and your ROAS will suffer greatly.

Looking for additional ways, beyond launching a new website, to enhance your hotel website’s conversion rate? Here are some of our favorites: 

  1. Incorporate direct booking tools such as The Hotels Network to personalize messaging and content on your site depending on the visitor and audience type
  2. The Guestbook cashback and guest rewards/loyalty program allows you to build loyalty and drive more conversions
  3. Custom packaging and special offers targeted to your desired audience segments

GCommerce is dedicated to helping hotels succeed with their direct booking strategy. If this is something your hotel needs assistance with please reach out to our sales team today.