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Hundreds of hoteliers joined us in New York today for the return of the Direct Booking Summit, and there was one clear message — hospitality begins online.

Triptease’s Chief Tease Charlie Osmond kicked off the event — the only one in the industry to focus solely on increasing direct bookings — by explaining why he believes bringing the magic of your hotel lobby onto your website is the next chapter in the Direct Booking Movement.

He told the audience: "The next piece of the puzzle has to be improving guest experience. It’s bringing that hospitality experience all the way through, before people arrive on your property.”

Fellow speaker, Daniel Tennant the General Manager of New York's Hotel on Rivington, revealed the tactics he’s using to make guests feel at home online. Among them, a partnership to get video content about the local area pushed on to the boutique hotel's website. It's saves potential visitors the job of researching the destination themselves and keeps them on your site. “At the end of the day, it’s all about guest experience on your website. They need to look at what they are buying into.”

Josh Runes, Director of Digital Marketing and Social Media at Modus Hotels, said one of his golden rules is consistency. “You need to have the same message about booking direct, whether that’s on your website, booking engine, email communications or individuals on-site speaking to hotel guests.”

Other highlights from the day included a staggering stat courtesy of McKinsey's Del Ross. He told delegates he had received 23 emails from the Expedia company alone over the last 30 days. OTAs are marketing to your customers constantly and he encouraged hotels to get a piece of the action.

Ross also predicted that voice-based search could be the way Amazon breaks into the travel market. It might be a way off yet — voice technology still needs refining — but it's certainly something to have on your radar.

Another hot topic was education. Many of our hotelier speakers said they are still putting a lot of effort into explaining the benefits of booking direct to both staff and guests. Emily Patrician, General Manager at Mere Hotel, Winnipeg, said she regularly tests whether her training is paying off by having a friend call her hotel to explain they found a better deal via an OTA.

After all that, we think our speakers and delegates deserve to let their hair down, so we’re throwing a fabulous penthouse party for them in the heart of Manhattan. There will be epic skyline views, games and dancing into the small hours.

We’ll have more from the party tomorrow, as well as a full round-up of the second day of events. We’re starting with a delve into digital with Kalibri Labs, before uncovering the small changes that could make a big difference to your revenue. Lastly, Charlie Osmond will be back with more on where the Direct Booking Movement is going next.

Stay tuned!

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