The advent of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) has revolutionized the hospitality sector. To be very precise, it has shaped the way guests book their accommodations at hotels. It allows travellers to compare rates and services of multiple properties. This gives them a better idea of what fits their requirement and budget best. This is the primary reason why as a hotelier, you should know how to select the right OTAs for your hotel.
OTAs are now a great marketing resource for hotel owners, allowing them to reach a wider audience and optimize revenue. These platforms work like magic to spread the word about property, inventory, prices, offers, etc. Choosing the right OTAs to partner with requires research and strategic planning. If you want to generate incremental OTA bookings well, you need to work with the best of them with a well-thought-out strategy. Then this guide is all you need.
OTAs refer to Online Travel Agencies, which are online hotel booking websites for travelers and online sales channels for hotels. Hotels list their properties - rates, and availability on them. OTAs charge a specific amount - booking commission that hotels need to pay to OTAs for every booking they receive via them.
Benefits of Partnering With OTAs
With about 40% to 50% of reservations being driven from OTAs, these online platforms have become crucial to every hotel's distribution strategy. Moreover, these serve as a one-stop location for travelers for comparative analysis and hotel bookings.
Why should you partner with OTAs? Here’s a reality check!
- Boost your online visibility: Your business reaches a wide demographic by listing on OTAs. This aids in getting maximum visibility and enhancing exposure to both domestic and international audiences.
- 24*7 booking opportunities from around the world: With greater visibility from all corners of the world, your hotel is likely to get bookings round the clock, from everywhere, even locations that are far away.
- Enhanced guest reviews leading to better credibility: This is one of the key OTA benefits for hotels. With guests leaving reviews on OTA platforms, your business gains good credibility, facilitating further bookings from across the globe. Of course, the kind of guest reviews/feedback you receive entirely depends on your guest service quality.
Key Factors to Consider When Selecting OTAs
With so many OTAs available in the market, it is crucial to understand their booking models and consider vital factors that synchronize with your brand and its business. Avoid random selections and identify the significant considerations that will help you leverage your hotel’s success.
Let us dive through the key factors to consider before finalizing your OTAs!
- Understanding your target audience: Different hotels cater to different markets, and different OTAs cater to different regions and audiences. It would help if you comprehended which OTA will benefit your business as a hotel owner by aligning with your target market. If you want to attract domestic travelers, then partner with OTAs that cater to domestic travelers and are well-known in your region. Likewise, if you wish to amplify bookings from foreign locations, then go for OTAs that are popular among foreigners.
- Property type: All OTAs are not equal and selecting the right ones depends on your hotel's category and amenities. Therefore, it is suggested that you tailor your OTA selection to complement your property type and attain optimal results. If your property features budget rooms, collaborate with OTAs frequented by travelers seeking such rooms. Similarly, luxurious resorts should team up with OTAs visited by the elite class. This practice will help you make an informed decision while selecting the right OTAs for your hotel.
- OTA Commission model: Consider the commission budget of your property while partnering with an OTA. With each OTA working on a distinct commission model, you need to analyze the commission rates before registration. Explore OTAs that offer lower commission fees to enhance your profit percentage with each booking. Secondly, study the potential repeat bookings each site can produce. OTAs with long-term benefits must be partnered with even at a slightly higher commission rate.
- Promotions and visibility boosts: Most OTAs offer reward and loyalty programs to promote hotels. Weigh the efficacy of these offers during OTA selection. Discounts per booking and offers like free nights, complimentary services, etc, resonate well with customers. Participating in such programs magnifies your customer base and recommends your property to more travelers. Collaborating with portals that emphasize such offers is a win-win situation for your business.
How To Select The Right OTAs For Your Hotel?
It is always a good idea to diversify your listing by collaborating with multiple OTAs that benefit your business from various aspects. Do appropriate research to find the right OTA mix with the best ROI. Here, we dig a little deeper to help you understand more about how to select the right OTAs for your hotel!
Study the pros and cons of each OTA
Measure the pros and cons of each OTA on your consideration list to make the best decision. While you may see a lot of scope for increased sales, some OTAs might have hidden commissions or fees that you must investigate. You need to know their policies for booking before making your final decision.
Analyze each platform from the perspective of a potential traveler. See whether the booking process is smooth and consider a guest's viewpoints. Clarify your queries from each OTA's support team before listing your property.
Evaluate your resources to maintain your listing
You must evaluate the availability of resources at your end to maintain your listing on an OTA platform. Listing up on multiple OTAs without having the means to avoid overbookings and grab more customers is a vague idea. This task is done with the help of a channel manager. The OTA you opt for should be compatible with your channel manager for maximum efficiency.
If you have a robust channel manager, you can easily upload rates and inventories and offer discount details, promotions, etc., across all OTAs. When integrated with a cloud-based Hotel PMS, The channel manager doesn't only help you with real-time update of rates and inventory across connected OTAs, but it also ensures rate parity on all of them and eliminates overbookings to help you improve guest satisfaction. Most importantly, it helps you understand which OTA is giving you the maximum number of bookings so that you can plan your room allocation accordingly.
Here are some more tips to make more out of your association with OTAs
- Manage a good portfolio of your property on all OTAs
- Keep all information about your property up-to-date
- Upload high-resolution and attractive pictures of your property
- Highlight your key amenities and services
- Respond to both positive and negative reviews to keep the audience engaged
As a hotel owner, you must know how to select the right OTAs for your hotel. There are no shortcuts when choosing the right OTAs for your business. So, take time to make the most of this process and achieve the maximum number of online bookings via OTAs for increased ROI.