As I’ve spelled out in other blogs the main marketing challenge that every tourism operator faces in our complex online and social media world is standing out amidst a sea of booking options and particularly the hyper-activity of the OTAs.

I’ve also argued that while the OTAs are really important channels in getting your business and products in front of travellers, there are numerous advantages in attracting direct bookings, including higher profit margins, greater control over the customer experience, and stronger customer relationships. One achievable way to drive more direct bookings is to create compelling visual and written content that resonates with your audiences, motivating them to book directly. I’ve outlined some key types of content that will get you to this goal:

A well-designed and information rich website is essential for attracting and converting ‘lookers’ into ‘bookers’. Even more important is creating engaging website content that showcases your business, products and related services. The minimum benchmark should be compelling destination guides, detailed tour/experience descriptions, captivating photography, and reviews and testimonials. Clear calls-to-action and consistent and user-friendly booking interfaces should be prominent and pervasive to encourage visitors to make direct bookings.

Offer unique and exclusive deals and promotions to reward customers that book directly with you. Whether it’s a discounted rate, a free upgrade, or value-add, special offers can create a sense of urgency to ‘book now’. To get maximum ‘bang for your buck’, offer these through your own website, email campaigns, and your social media channels to heighten and broaden your audience to drive direct bookings.

You know your destination and products better than anyone. So, research and get creative to write up descriptive valuable, practical and informative content that educates and motivates potential customers about destinations, activities, and ‘my secret tips’ to establish your credentials as a trusted authority in the local industry. Include destination guides, blogs, packing lists, and how-to info. Helpful advice, and insights, will build credibility, foster trust, which ultimately will deliver direct bookings from customers who value your expertise and efforts.

Do all you can to encourage your customers to share their experiences. Because user-generated content is the most powerful way to reinforce authenticity, confidence and appeal of your offerings. This should include customer reviews, photos, videos, and social media posts. Actively engage with your customers on social media, encourage them to share their content using branded hashtags, and feature the content of your guests on your website, social media channels and marketing materials to inspire others to book directly.

The ‘cream on the cake’ is being able to offer interactive content such as quizzes, polls, and interactive maps that encourages engagement with your business. For example, use interactive quizzes to help customers discover unique and ‘secret’ aspects of your destination or experiences, create interactive maps to show the features of the locations of tours and activities, and polls are a good way to gather feedback and preferences from them. Providing interactive content can add to memorability of experiences and resonate with customers and increase direct bookings.

Tailoring content to the preferences and interests of individual customers will improve the likelihood of direct bookings. Capturing and using customer data give you insights that allow you to create personalised recommendations and offers, maybe based on past booking history, their age/gender etc and even behaviour patterns. You could use this for personalised emails, targeted promotions, and customised tour/experiences itineraries. What you are doing in effect, is understanding of their needs and preferences, driving loyalty which will help deliver an enhanced experience, generate positive reviews, repeat and direct bookings.

With easier and cheaper access to augmented reality (AR) technology, explore the possibility of providing virtual tours and experiences that allow customers to explore destinations and attractions from the comfort of their own homes. It could be as simple as panoramic 360-degree photography which is effectively ‘virtual tours’ which will dramatically enhance your content.

So, there is your challenge. Creating compelling content is essential for tourism suppliers that want to drive more direct bookings and build deeper and longer-term relationships with their customers.

If you offer emotive engaging website content, special offers and promotions, informative descriptive educational content, generate and capture content from your guests, get creative about interactive content, personalise recommendations, you will attract, and convert customers, by differentiating your business in what is now a hyper competitive primarily online market. If you focus on delivering value, build authority and trust, and provide memorable experiences, I guarantee that you will maximise your direct booking potential, bring down your average cost of sale (commission) and reinforce the sustainability of your business.

If you’re interested in having a crack at any of our suggestions, let us know and we can show you the way. Email TXA at or call 1300 266 582.