The chances are high that if you mention the term “OTA hotel booking” to any hotel owner, the results you get could be unsatisfactory.
NB: This is an article from Hotelogix
Naturally, owners are going to prefer direct booking over OTA booking. Regardless of the negative sentiments garnered from hotel brass, the fact remains that OTAs in the hotel industry account for a fair number of online reservations. The number of travelers booking with an OTA is set to rise again this year.
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And let’s face it – anyone searching for hotels online will likely land on an option for OTA hotel booking.
It only makes sense to optimize any strategy for something that generates this much revenue. The good news is that a few simple changes can help dial in your OTA marketing strategy.
In this article, you’ll find tips for your OTA strategy and advice on your channel management system.
The Importance of Having an Efficient OTA Strategy for Hotels
If you weren’t aware of just how crucial optimizing your OTA strategy is, consider the following information. Just so we’re on the same page, you should be mindful of the fact that the primary distribution channels for hotels are:
- Direct website bookings. These are reservations made directly on your hotel’s website.
- Direct phone bookings. Again, these are reservations made straight to the hotel, only via phone.
- OTAs. Online travel agencies (Priceline, Kayak, etc.).
- Metasearch sites. Sites like TripAdvisor or Trivago charge hotels or OTAs a pay-per-click commission based on bookings acquired through these sites.
Now, these are just the four major types of distribution channels. You also have wholesalers and global distribution systems, but we’ll keep it simple.
OTAs are responsible for a whopping 51% of the reservations made out of all the distribution channels for hotels. Let that sink in.
OTA reservations are, without a doubt, a lifeline for hotel owners. Use the following steps to get your strategy working efficiently so you can maximize your revenue.
1. Use High-Quality Images
Check all the photos you’re using on the OTAs you’re doing business with. If they’re not high-quality with the right aesthetic that makes the rooms look super attractive, consider taking new ones.
You want to stay away from photos taken with a cell phone. Take the time to hire a professional photographer – or even find a freelancer online to do it for a fraction of the price. The rooms should look similar to staged photos of homes listed for sale.
A quality photo with great lighting will be more enticing to travelers. You have to remember that travelers will see a vast number of hotels. Anything you can do to make you stand out from the crowd increases your odds of selling a room.
If the OTA allows you to post videos, this is even better. Studies show that videos on hotel landing pages increase booking rates by over 80%. They’ll work wonders for your OTA profile, as well.
When you leverage the power of SEO, it’s much easier for consumers to find your hotel website. Hotel listings on OTA websites use many of the same rules for their search options.
OTAs utilize some type of ranking system and aren’t shy about providing advice on how you can leverage these systems. Don’t disregard the instructions – pay attention to the best practices for SEO on their websites.
Naturally, one of the primary strategies is going to be making the best use of keywords. However, you’ll probably find some pretty useful stuff on the instructions OTAs provide you and other online blogs centred around SEO strategies.
3. Get Friendly with Your OTA Manager
Your OTA manager is the individual who handles your account with each respective agency. Honestly, most hotel managers and owners don’t utilize the services of these individuals as often as they should.
Why wouldn’t you? That’s why they’re calling you – they want to help optimize your OTA strategy and get more people to book rooms with your hotel. At the end of the day, the more people who book your hotel means that both of you make money.
You’re paying the OTAs at the end of the day – consider your contact with your account manager as a paid service or additional bonus. Technically, that’s exactly what it is.
There’s quite a bit to gain from having someone on the inside who knows the ins and outs of OTAs and is willing to help you out. Next time they call you, don’t ignore them.
4. Be Sure to Finish Your Profile
When travelers are searching among the options for hotels on an OTA website, they’re looking for a few specific things:
- Attractive images
- Good reviews
- Good rates
- Complete profiles
There’s just something unattractive about searching through hotels with complete, robust profiles, then suddenly landing on a few that are bare bones. It doesn’t take much time. Take a few minutes to finish your profile, and make it as complete as possible.
Taking the time to improve in each of these areas can provide you with significant benefits at the end of the day. Besides, working with OTAs isn’t all bad. In addition to the points mentioned above, consider the following benefits of working with online travel agencies:
- You significantly increase your visibility.
- You get new guests you may not have otherwise had a chance to secure.
- It’s pay-per-performance advertising. You’re not shelling out any money for anything that’s not producing results.
- They provide tremendous help when it comes to getting rid of your leftover inventory.
Regardless of how owners and corporate members feel about OTAs in the hotel industry, the truth is, many organizations would be struggling without them. At the end of the day, every major company pays for advertising. Essentially, this is no different from paying for an advertising campaign – the only difference is that it’s already been optimized, and you only pay for conversions!
Utilizing Channel Manager
With Channel Manager, you can easily update your room inventory, making the most updated information available to all the OTAs you do business with. Real-time information is relayed directly to their search engines, decreasing double-booking odds. The price information is also updated, ensuring you get the best possible prices for your rooms.