The earlier article spoke about the importance of SEO for hotels to increase visibility on search engines to attract more travelers. (Read: SEO tips for hotels to attract travelers)
This blog touches upon the importance of Online Travel Agents (OTAs) that connect millions of potential travelers to hotels. With a wide option of popular OTAs like Travelocity, Booking.com, Expedia and more, hotels, especially small independents hold a strong chance to attract travelers. Being present on OTAs ensures that maximum travelers from across the globe find your hotel.
While the debate on OTAs vs Direct Bookings never ends, there is no questioning the fact that the visibility an OTA can give an independent hotel is unmatched by any other channel.
Here’s looking at some of the key advantages that small hotels can have by being present on OTAs.
Compete with the biggies:
One of the biggest advantages of being listed on OTAs is that big hotel chains like Hilton, Taj, Ritz Carlton no longer rule the front pages of the OTAs. If you look at the OTAs, you would find more of the small hotels ranking higher on the results. Also, since OTAs allow search by customization, there are more options presented to the traveller for him to choose from – some OTAs also have the option of searching by distance from the airport and stations. Research shows that searches are often filtered by ‘prices’ as travelers want quality hotels with fair prices and this becomes a dominant factor for not choosing big hotels.
Access to market managers:
Many OTAs provide hoteliers with the option of having a dedicated market manager who can assist hoteliers with the hottest trends in their region, suggest travel packages, paid advertising campaigns and other factors based on the market analysis, to target the travelers.
Small hotels can also afford the services of a market manager. It’s a good idea to do so as they have extensive market knowledge to take a call when it comes to advertising your property. They can decide your hotel’s marketing strategies based on the seasonal events, festivals, compression periods and competition.
Sell through packages:
Hotels also have an option of tying up with airline or car rental services to provide customized packages for travelers as these combined packages work cheaper than the other listings. Since Millennials are the biggest target sector for hotels they are more likely to be attracted through these customized packages.
Take advantage of the billboard effect:
As an independent hotelier, you don’t expect travelers to search online by your hotel’s name specifically. That is where the billboard effect (the higher chances of a traveller visiting your website after spotting you on an OTA) can help your hotel gain direct visits. A research by Tnooz reveals that a few hotels in USA saw a rise in the range of 7.5% to 26% in direct bookings due to the billboard effect. So, being present on OTAs can get more visitors to your hotel’s website compared to the organic and direct searches.
Bank upon guest reviews:
The reviews and ratings left by your existing guests on OTAs can work like free word-of-mouth advertising for attracting new guests to your hotel. People tend to look for hotels that have ratings of 3 and above.
OTAs are definitely a boon to the hoteliers as they let travelers view, review, save and share the hotel listing with others. All you have to do is be present and market yourself well. It is important for an independent hotel to not get deterred by the high commission fees but use OTAs as a tool to establish a global presence.
My upcoming blog will focus on how a small hotel can differentiate itself from a competitor hotel to get more guests. If you liked my article, please share your views in the comment box below.