If you’re a hotel that works with online travel agents (OTAs), you’ll be familiar with the battle of balancing your relationship with the OTAs and also driving enough sales directly.
The battle has become increasingly aggressive in recent times, with leading brands such as Hilton launching campaigns which outright tell users to book direct for the best rates.
Consumers have come to expect OTAs to offer them the best rates. It’s a learned consumer behaviour that is going to be tricky to even start to change. Most hotels don’t have a biddable media budget to match the likes of Late Rooms or Expedia, but there are steps you can be taking within your PPC campaigns to try and earn back more direct bookings and try to counter OTAs.
OTA Brand Bidding
A quick glance in your Auction Insights report for your brand campaign will let you know if OTAs are bidding on your particular brand, and how they perform against you. Impression Share is a good indication of what percentage of the time the OTA is showing for your brand. Compare their Impression Share with your Impression Share, and you’ll be able to see whether they show for your brand more often than you do.
To try and counter some of the traffic and sales lost to OTAs who are bidding on your brand, it is important for you to be bidding on your own brand too. In addition to simply bidding on your brand, you can also bid on your brand plus the name of the OTA, for example ‘Hotel Name Laterooms’.
When you do this, consider what you put in your ad text to try and combat or match their USPs. In the example below, you can see Booking.com bidding on Harbour Hotels Brighton. Booking.com’s ad mentions no booking fees, 24/7 Customer Service, and Free Cancellation. These are all USPs that the hotel can offer when the user books direct too, so the ad text of the hotel’s own ads should try and mention some of these USPs and any other USPs that trump the OTAs ad, such as free WiFi.