Online Travel Agents are, for many, the biggest online distribution channel and should be seen as an advertising platform for hotels. Taking into consideration high commissions, these channels should be part of your guest acquisition strategy and not a channel to drive repeat bookings- these should ideally be captured through your own booking engine.
Best practices of note are to keep the following up to date:
- Consider the relevance of each OTA to your target demographic
- Look at your acquisition as part of your marketing plan
- Ensure you keep a note of your OTA commissions
- Check what potential discounting/ dynamic pricing campaigns are set in your OTAs
- Regular analysis on your OTA effectiveness – is each channel performing/ supporting your strategy
- Ensure that if you are running a direct to brand strategy that any channels are not competing directly
How to Get the Most out of your OTAs
The OTAs can be a fantastic way to drive occupancy. For an agreed commission, they’ll promote your property to a global audience and key OTAs provide a known, prolific, and global distribution channel with a range covering almost every guest demographic.
Unlike your direct online brand, OTAs are far more agnostic. If your hotel is poorly represented (lack of competitive rates/ available rooms/ lack of hotel info, reviews, pricing), travellers are presented with a range of alternative options which could mean that your potential visitors find what they need with another brand.
Aside from being a high-converting, global distribution partner, OTAs also offer great opportunities to advertise your brand. The OTA will usually only charge commission on a successful booking, so any exposure you get from an OTA can be a great source of free advertising.
It’s important to note that the OTAs themselves are more than aware that their hard work and advertising spend can result in travellers discovering a hotel on their channel only to look elsewhere to book. For example, a traveller could discover a property via the OTA, and look online for more information before making a reservation. In these cases, if the traveller stumbles across the hotel’s own website/ booking engine, this would be an opportunity to ensure the direct booking process is good enough to ensure the traveller doesn’t return to the OTA.
Each OTA has their own market strengths:
Some are great for local leisure destinations, others excel at global business travel. Choosing the right channels to use will play a hugely important role in ensuring that you are maximising your online presence and appearing where your best guests may be shopping.
Having a great understanding of your product, your audience, and your budget is a great way to ensure you’re ready to advertise in all the right places… and ensure that every penny of commission is well-spent.
OTAs can be a great way to keep your hotel full with last-minute or distressed inventory, but it’s also relatively expensive. If you can get more of your business direct, there is a benefit in both guest ownership and lower commissions, and there is a delicate balance to be struck.
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