In Hospitality, Online Travel Agents or OTAs, by definition, are online platforms that let consumers book travel-related services via the internet. The rise of OTAs in hospitality industry was an attempt for these travel agents to go large-scale due to the rise in demand and the lack of a platform to showcase these services. They can be called as middlemen of the hospitality industry connecting hotels and their prospective guests.
What is OTA in Hotel Industry
Simply put, OTAs are listing sites where hotels or accommodation providers of all kinds can list themselves, in order to make themselves more visible to the larger audience base and potentially get bookings from them. On the other hand, OTAs help travelers get a better view of the kind of properties they have access to at a certain place, so they can make a more informed decision, comparing the different options at one place. So, the concept of OTAs is a pretty solid one, helping everyone derive some value or the other from them.
Here are a few stats to set things in perspective:
– 76% of online bookings happen via OTAs
– 20% of your direct bookings come from people that have discovered your hotel through an OTA
In light of these stats, it is safe to say that OTAs not only help you directly by getting you online visibility and bookings, but also help you indirectly by driving more traffic to your website to increase your chances of direct bookings from the website. So, the significance of OTAs in hotel management cannot be overlooked. But how can one make the most of OTAs so as to even out the hole that OTA commissions make in one’s wallet? Is there any OTA marketing strategy that will help hotel owners maximize their bookings and revenue?
We are here to get your OTA strategy right. Let’s run through a few tips to get you started:
The first impression is the last impression: In a world where people make impulse online purchases just by the way the product looks or the way it is described, hotels have that much more to gain from cashing in on this trend on OTAs
Perhaps the best OTA strategy for hotels is to make sure that your online presence is nothing short of impressive. This does not mean that you photoshop your property’s images. It simply means that you need to focus on your strengths and play them up, but at the same time keep it genuine and real. Good, high-definition photographs of the property, rooms and the amenities, backed up with a description that will make prospective guests want to visit is key to success.
Also, make sure your descriptions are crisp, catchy and tastefully written. IT needs to be compelling enough to make the traveler make a booking with you but at the same time you need to set the right expectations. Do not make promises that you cannot deliver on, because that could go horribly wrong!
The role of OTAs in a hotel’s online image and reputation is immense and so make sure you are doing everything you can to stay on top of this game.
Location is Key: Now, I know this isn’t something as easily ‘editable’ as the description of your hotel on a Hotel OTA site! Tourists usually look for a hotel that is located not too far from the main areas of interest. A clear description of your hotel’s location and the distance from these areas should do the trick for you.
A good OTA strategy for hotels is one in which you use everything to your benefit. While ideally you should be located in the heart of the town, but it isn’t the end of the world if you aren’t!
There are travelers for every kind of property, located in every nook and cranny of the world. So, understand who your target audience is, and appeal to them. This is an OTA marketing Strategy that is bound to work because while location is important, it is also crucial to remember that every location is just as important!
Have the right Integrations in place: While on the topic of Hotel OTAs and the discussion of OTA marketing strategy is on, how can one ignore the importance of an integrated, end-to-end Hotel Property Management System!
Your Hotel Management System and your channel manager need to be integrated to make the best of the situation. Hotel OTAs such as Booking.com, have a cancellation rate of around 30%.
In the absence of an integrated Hotel Management System, it means that in case of a cancellation you will have to manually update your inventory again or the room will show as booked and that may result in a loss of an opportunity.
The Channel Manager- PMS integration could help you update inventory in real-time, making sure you do not miss out on an opportunity to fill up your rooms. You must also invest in a web booking engine integration so as to drive more direct bookings. We have already seen that Hotel
OTAs also help you drive traffic to your website. In order to convert those visitors into bookers, you need to integrate with a WBE.
These are the two most popular integrations that will help you achieve a more successful OTA marketing strategy.
Trick of the trade: Here’s another Hotel OTA tip that might not seem like much but will always be a good rule to follow. Trademark the name of the hotel with your location. Especially if you have a common or popular Hotel name! Take for example: The Golden Hotel – Madrid. Why this makes sense is because you can stand out over the other Golden hotels around the world or in your location. Giving your hotel its very own identity, is going to put you out there.
Choosing the right OTAs to list your hotel on: Depending on whether your guests are tourists or locals looking for accommodation, you can start planning your OTA marketing strategy. Hotel OTA sites are mostly geo-specific, in that they cater to audiences of specific geos or regions. So, finding out where a majority of your guests are coming from, could be the right step in this direction. If you are uncertain of where to start, find out where most of the tourists flocking into your city come from and approach it accordingly.
Limit the OTAs: Yes, you heard that right! Just because we’re talking about boosting your OTA marketing strategy doesn’t mean that you need to let them take over. On every booking that comes from an OTA, your hotel pays a commission. Too much of a dependency on OTAs may not be the best idea as you may lose out on the revenue that you should be getting. Let direct bookings help you out here.
We hope some of these tips will help you build a better OTA Marketing Strategy for your hotel. If you do like the content we are curating and would like to know more about striking the right balance between OTAs and direct bookings, let us know in the comments section and we’ll make sure this content reaches you.