It’s well established by now that OTAs (online travel agencies) are crucial for your hotel’s booking success, both as a marketing and distribution channel, particularly as online travel bookings continue to grow.
It’s not as easy to decipher which channels are perfect for your hotel’s performance, or how many you should use to drive reservations and revenue.
This blog will look at some key insights that help you choose the right OTAs for your accommodation business.
Table of contents
What is an OTA?
An OTA is an online travel agent (or online travel agency). A common example of an OTA is Booking.com – where travellers can book hotels, flights, car hire, or even entire vacation packages online.
For your hotel an OTA is where you can list your rooms for booking, advertising to the thousands of travellers who may be looking for a reservation in your city or town throughout the year.
How to choose the best OTAs for your hotel
Choosing the best mix of OTAs for your hotel will always depend on some individual circumstances and the goals you set yourself. This will include:
- Your local market – There will likely be a few channels that specialise in driving bookings to your country and/or destination
- Your ideal target market – Some channels will help you capture bookings from high value travellers that frequent your location
- Your product – For instance, certain channels will specifically service luxury properties.
- Your offerings – You can also find particular channels that are better for promoting packages, last-minute bookings etc.
- Your strategy – How many bookings will you be looking to drive via OTAs, versus your direct channels like your website and social media pages?
As you can see, there’s never going to be a one-size-fits-all approach to choosing the channels you partner with. It requires you to:
- Have a clear plan in place first
- Perform in-depth analysis of your options
- Identify how you will execute your strategy with the right tech solutions.
For instance, the more channels you connect to the more vital your property management system and channel manager become. Integrating these two systems will help keep your reservation data accurate, automated, and up-to-date – and ensure you have proper reporting functions available to measure channel and business performance.
List of popular hotel OTAs
With all of the above being said, there are certainly a number of well-known OTAs that travellers around the world use to plan and book their travel.
Let’s take a look at some of the big players and what they’re known for.
Booking.com – Booking.com is recognised as the global leader of OTAs, proving to be one of the most popular booking channels for travellers across all segments and parts of the world.
Expedia – Another big player but Expedia is also known for being especially valuable to travellers looking to book packages.
Agoda – Particularly popular in Asian markets
Trip.com – The biggest channel for Chinese travellers
Mr & Mrs Smith – Dedicated to boutique and luxury properties.
Airbnb – Specialises in small or unique properties and properties that provide a ‘home away from home’ experience for travellers.
Lastminute.com – As the name suggests, great for those looking for last minute stays, especially in Europe.
Orbitz – Big player for the American market.
These are just some of the most popular channels we can list but there are literally hundreds available, some of which may suit your property better. For example, Travelocity is a channel that rewards travellers who are undertaking volunteering missions. Meanwhile, Intrepid caters to adventure travellers and partners with hostels and backpacking accommodation providers.
Download the SiteMinder report for full lists and analysis on a market level.
Quick tips to boost your hotel’s OTA bookings
Choosing the right channels for your hotel is the first step to boosting bookings at your hotel, but there’s a few things you can do to increase your chances of success.
Here’s some quick tips to help you win over guests on your booking channels:
- Optimise your OTA profiles – You need to treat your OTA profile with the same love as your website, so make sure to include high quality images and descriptions.
- Work with your OTA market manager – This will help you take advantage of any campaigns.
- Utilise the billboard effect – Try to incentivise visitors to your OTA profile to jump over to your website and book directly for extra profit.
- Diversify – Traveller behaviour, motivations, and preferences are changing all the time, so it’s helpful to have a mix of channels to capture the largest audience possible.
- Make sure your brand mission is front and centre – People want to know what you stand for, and what you believe in. For example, there’s a growing appetite for properties which have sustainability practices and policies in place.
- Work on your reputation and promotions – Travellers like OTAs so much because they are a one-stop-shop where they can search for accommodation, compare prices, find deals, and check reviews. You need to make sure you’re optimising every part of your online presence.
- Use a channel manager – Without a channel manager, handling more than a few OTA connections at a time will become almost impossible without encountering data errors and double bookings.
Best OTA channel manager
To find the best channel manager for your hotel, there’s a few things to keep in mind as you research potential investments:
- The amount and variety of channel connections
- Features and ease of use
- Integration capabilities
- Reviews and reputation
- Training and support offered
- Free trial period
For many years, SiteMinder’s channel manager has been considered the world’s most powerful hotel channel manager, with superior connections, integration, functionality, and security. Now, as part of SiteMinder’s hotel commerce platform, it’s even more enabled to help your hotel succeed.
Interested in seeing for yourself?