Winning the Bookings War: Online Travel Agency Strategies
OTAs are more powerful and consolidated than ever. Coming out on top as an independent hotelier takes a great strategy and a deft hand.
OTAs are necessary and advisable for most independent hotels, but that doesn’t mean you can’t deal with them in powerful ways. Today we’re taking you through the most solid strategies on the web for dealing with OTAs.
For the small independent hotelier, huge brand consolidations like Marriot and Starwood’s aren’t an option. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have leverage – you can still develop a powerful strategy for getting the most out of OTAs.
Whether it’s about controlling the number of rooms you have on OTAs, making your onsite booking process as streamlined as possible, or knowing why your guests are staying, you’ve got room to make a plan with your marketing team – and you need to.
With cutting-edge technologies, targeted email lists with subscribers in the millions, and a talented team of hospitality professionals dispatched to every part of the globe, OTAs have a worldwide reach of traveler consumers that a hotel marketing team could only dream of.
Here’s an interview with Expedia’s Director of Industry Relations Adam Anderson going over best practices for hotels looking to boost their ratings and bookings on their site (and a few takeaways for your site’s offers as well!)
Your hotel’s guest persona needs to go beyond demographics (age, occupation, income etc.) and go into why your guests are travelling. The decision process behind a trip is key to where people book – for example, research by Noctober Value Partners revealed that leisure travellers prefer to use an OTA while business travellers who didn’t need reimbursement tended to book direct.
If a guest’s reason for traveling informs their booking decision, then figuring out why your hotel guests are staying with you is vital. You’ll be able to decide how useful OTAs are to you, which ones are best equipped to help you, and how to customize your OTA presence.
Take a few of the booking optimisation secrets OTAs use on their sites and apply them to your own. They’ve got huge marketing departments and access to tons of data, so odds are good that they know what they’re doing.
However, you can take their best tricks and use them on your own site. Drive direct bookings with these tips from OTAs.
Stop looking at OTAS as villains trying to undercut your business, and OTAs morph from competitor to powerful marketing tool. In this way, they offer a range of features that your own marketing budget may not allow.
With the size and grandeur of the heavyweights behind you, you can reach new customer bases, analyze your business and even try something new once in a while. Here’s how to do that in a cautious, strategic way:
Meta Search, properly optimised, becomes a powerful marketing channel for hotels. Meta Search sites allow consumers to search for accommodation across several sites by placing OTAs and – if hotels choose to place themselves on a Meta Search site – properties side by side in a comparative format, which simplifies the buying decision for the consumer.
Here’s the key point for independent hoteliers: Meta Search gives you the opportunity, without the marketing might of a large chain, to position yourself on a level playing field with OTAs and shift a share of business to book directly on your own site. Meta Search channels with direct connections to the hotel’s own website can lead to bookings at a lower cost per acquisition than through Online Travel Agents. Hotels get wider distribution, while controlling the customer’s booking from an earlier stage.