In many cases, leveraging OTAs to be a complimentary piece of your hotel’s overall goals is necessary.
NB: This is an article from Travelboom
However, if you’re looking to build more direct bookings and revenue, and avoid paying costly commission fees to Kayak, Trivago, Expedia, and countless other OTAs, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll cover the tools and approach independent hotels can use to increase direct bookings and reduce OTA reliance. We call that a winning OTA strategy.
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Keep YOUR guest
Most of the time, hotels don’t receive the guest’s personal information (such as an email address or a phone number) when they book through an OTA.
That means they’re going to get bombarded with marketing and exposed to your competitors through the mighty OTA marketing machine.
We don’t suggest cutting off OTAs all at once. However, we do suggest creating a data mining strategy to ensure that when a guest books via an OTA that they book direct in the future.
When an OTA guest checks in, your primary goal should be to get their email address. Make sure that you have the ability to communicate with them and foster an ongoing relationship from the moment they arrive at your hotel through the post-stay survey. When an OTA guest checks out, your primary goal is to ensure that guest never appears as an OTA booking again.
Once you have that information collected, it’s an opportunity to keep in touch with your guests (OTA or direct) after their stay and prior to their next stay. A useful way of reconnecting with your OTA guests could be:
- A targeted post-stay email campaign, letting them know they can improve their experience on their next stay if they book direct.
- Target those same OTA guests with a special message prior to their booking anniversary to convert them to direct bookings.
Use OTAs (at the right time)
There can be some benefits to promoting your hotel on OTAs. But do so with strategic planning.
Don’t approach OTAs the same way year round. If your peak season is in the summer and your off-season is in the winter, modify your inventory to reflect that. If you know you’re going to sell your high-end units during peak months, don’t put them on the OTAs. Instead, push your lowest-priced inventory as a way to sustain visibility but also draw the consumer to your own website where they can select other room types.
No need to spend more where you don’t need to. Reducing your efforts on OTA sites now can likely help you save money down the road.