Travel is one of the toughest industries online. Competition is huge. The big guys are really big, have a lot of money, and are smart enough to invest the money wisely, doing a lot of tests and constantly improving.

So if someone is doing a good job against these guys, it’s worth taking a closer. There’s a lot to learn from how they do it.

In this cases, the big guys are online travel agencies like Kayak, Expedia or

The guys that are improving and doing a much better job the last couple years are the hotel websites.

Ritz, Bellagio or Premier Inn are not what you would usually call the “small guys.” But compared to Expedia, they are.

The article focuses on what the six hotel websites do well, and how it helps them consistently improve the number of direct bookings over the last couple years.

– Communicate benefits very clearly and tell in no uncertain terms why it’s better to book directly
– Upsell hotel extras (go for unusual stuff which can’t be a checkbox in the third-party “Extras” section)
– Drive loyalty programs (in a way that is not annoying or over the top)
– Steal some tactics from the big guys (sure, if it makes sense and it works, why not? some sense of urgency or social proof is almost always a winner)
– Create your own identity (can’t be copied by anyone else).

If you want to see how it’s done in a very competitive industry, you’ll find some inspiration here.

Six excellent hotel websites (and how they encourage direct booking)