Online Travel Agents for hotels or OTAs serve as important distribution channels for hotels. They play a pivotal role in marketing and selling rooms. OTAs are online platforms or websites that sell hotel rooms to customers. They are game-changers when it comes to reaching customers across regions. An excellent marketing strategy incorporates OTAs to boost sales and revenue. For guests, they are like the ultimate platform to look at multiple options, compare rates, read reviews, see hotels’ online scores, etc., before making the reservation - everything in one place. In this blog, we will look at a few strategies to increase bookings for hotels from OTAs.
Importance of OTAs for hotel booking
As online sales channels, OTAs generate about 50% to 55% of hotel bookings. These statistics show why OTAs are essential for hotels. Hotels rely on OTAs to showcase rooms and rates and attract guests to book with them while competing with others. On average, a hotel is typically connected to around 4-5 OTAs.
Hotels see immense value in collaborating with OTAs. Hotel OTA partnerships are on the rise owing to the following reasons:
- OTAs are great platforms for hotels to promote their services, amenities, and unique selling points, distinguishing them from competitors.
- OTAs increase online visibility across regions that are otherwise unreachable.
Understanding Different OTA models
Merchant model: In this model, guests pay the OTA during reservation, and the OTA pays the hotel post the guest's stay. There is a contract between hotels and OTAs where the OTAs are allotted a fixed number of rooms at a favorable rate. The OTA earns a fixed profit percentage per room sold as per the contract.
Agency Model: In this model, guests pay the hotel directly upon their stay, even though booked via an OTA. The hotel then pays a commission to the OTA.
The majority of OTAs offer a combination of both models, which is flexible for both hotels and guests. This allows travelers to opt for the model that suits them the best.
Tips To Maximize OTA Bookings
The perfect plan requires a good mix of OTA strategies for hotels to maximize OTA bookings. These key distribution channels can help you maximize your revenue only when you know how to make the best use of them. Here are the best strategies that will help you to increase bookings for hotels from OTA!
Know your audience
If you want to increase bookings for hotels from OTA, then identify your target audience first. This will help you figure out the right OTAs to boost your sales. Understand your target demographic and their preferences. Identify whether your target audience belongs to the business class or families, whether they are millennials or GenZ. Choose OTAs that are popular in your target audience's region.
Choose the best OTA mix
Begin with finding the right Online Travel Agents to help you reach your target audience. You need to research various OTAs before you zero in on the right ones. While one OTA can help you reach out to an international audience - say mainly from the Southeast Asian market, the other one may help capture customers from Europe. So, do your best research to partner with the right OTAs to pool the maximum number of guests.
Engage with market managers
Your OTA partners will assign you market managers so that you can make the most of your investment. Collaborate with them to gain insights into market trends and devise effective packages. These OTA market managers guide you in configuring the best advertising campaigns and other promotions and discounts to target specific demographics and seasons. This greatly helps in improving your property's online ranking and also increases OTA hotel bookings.
Use top-notch content and image
To make your hotel stand out online, it's crucial to have high-quality images that showcase your property and services. Consider hiring professional photographers to capture the best parts of your hotel and emphasize what sets you apart from the rest. Don't just show empty rooms, but capture candid moments of guests enjoying their stay.
When it comes to your hotel's listing on OTA platforms, it's essential to make a solid first impression. Treat it like a CV and optimize everything from your text to your pictures. Use proper headers, list all amenities, and highlight them with eye-catching images. It's also essential to tailor your content to your target audience. If you're targeting families, showcase your hotel as "family-oriented" and provide images and descriptions that resonate with them. With an optimized OTA presence, you'll increase your chances of securing bookings and attracting more guests.
Strengthen your online reputation
Guests read about 8-10 reviews before booking a hotel on an OTA. Plus, they will book at a property that has a good amount of positive guest reviews and strong online scores. That's why it becomes extremely important for you to pay attention to your brand's online reputation and score. Positive guest reviews and improved online scores enhance your hotel's ranking and visibility on OTAs, meaning your guests get to see your property first, increasing your chances of attracting them.
Know your competitors
The highly competitive hospitality industry is a market where various hotels target the same set of customers on the same OTA. That's why, it is imperative to identify competitors and know what they are offering to customers so that you can appeal to them differently and offer something extra. You can research your competitors by studying their websites, checking their guest reviews, and analyzing their rates.
Adopt a flexible pricing strategy
You need to adopt a flexible pricing strategy to increase bookings for hotels from OTA. You must know what to charge during each season. One crucial pricing strategy is to charge as per demand. It refers to forecasting demand based on industry trends, current bookings, and past data. You can charge higher when demand is high and lower when demand is low to keep your hotel at maximum occupancy.
On the other hand, the other strategy involves maintaining price parity across all OTAs. It will help you get into collaboration with the maximum number of OTAs and garner maximum bookings. However, fixing a standardized rate requires good planning to maximize profits, as different OTAs will charge different commission rates.
Utilize OTA promotion
Most online travel agencies offer paid promotion options, which allow hotels to invest in advertising campaigns to boost their OTA rankings. These offers are helpful during low-demand seasons when filling out rooms is a significant challenge. Hoteliers can capitalize on these special offers to get more exposure and grab more customers.
Leverage cloud-based Hotel PMS and Channel Manager integration
The integration between a Cloud-based Hotel PMS and a Channel Manager will help you establish seamless communication with all the OTAs you have collaborated with. This will ensure real-time rate and inventory updates across all OTAs to avoid overbookings and loss of business opportunities. It is critical technological integration to generate incremental bookings from OTAs.
OTAs are a critical part of the marketing strategy of contemporary hotels. With the right marketing mix, you can acquire more customers and increase hotel bookings from OTAs. These online sales channels are vital marketing and distribution platforms, making them precious resources for hotel owners, revenue managers, and marketers. Follow the right strategic approach to OTA partnerships and continuously refine and adapt your strategies per market trends to increase bookings for hotels from OTAs.