It’s common knowledge hotels are at a disadvantage if they aren’t engaging online travel agents to boost their distribution and sell rooms.
The prominence of online travel agents (OTAs), such as Expedia and Booking.com, continues to grow and they’re a proven resource for travellers who use them to discover a diverse range of accommodation options at the best price.
Connecting to OTAs will help hotels increase their visibility and maintain their occupancy. Your property may even rank higher on search engines – and yet the commission fee from OTAs can feel like a necessary evil if hotels want to accomplish this.
However, to make sure you get the full benefit of OTAs and their reach, there’s a number of steps you should follow to optimise your hotel’s profile.
Given your hotel is a brand, your marketing efforts should be consistent across all channels. Don’t save your best images and content just for your website, make sure this is also on the OTA websites.
Similar to search engines such as Google, OTAs have their own algorithms for how your property will rank, meaning you need to pay close attention to the following tips:
Here are 6 easy steps to optimise your hotel’s OTA profile:
- Accurately manage your inventory
Because the availability of your rooms will fluctuate due to peak periods or seasonal changes, you need to maintain an accurate inventory across all OTAs to keep your occupancy rate high. Using a channel manager with pooled inventory is the best way to achieve this because travellers won’t be disrupted by double booking issues or incorrect data.
- Cleverly manage your rates and promotions
Guests don’t simply use OTAs for a wide range of choice and inspiration, often they’re looking for last minute deals and offers. If you have time-sensitive promotions they’ll have more chance of being caught and you can more easily sell the remainder of your rooms. It’s not hard to make alterations on OTAs to highlight a particular rate or capitalise on seasonal events to attract more guests to your property profile.
- Carefully respond to reviews
While only 14% of consumers trust traditional advertising, 92% respect reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor. Reviews on OTAs are traditionally reliable because guests can only post a review after they’ve stayed at the property. However, only 36% of hoteliers respond to reviews on OTA sites. It’s important to do an efficient job of managing online reviews.
- Consider paid advertising
This doesn’t have to be restricted to big and rich hotel corporations. It can also be a viable option for independent hotels on a pay-per-click basis. While paid advertising is no guarantee of more bookings, it will help make your property front-of-mind. If your content and aesthetic is strong enough, you should see a rise in revenue and your OTA ranking.
- Focus on specific markets
Narrowing down your targets will mean you impact a lower volume of customers but you’re also more likely to secure the bookings you want if you use certain time periods, events, geo-targeting or other methods to target specific audiences.
- Understand your competition
It’s vital to know who the similar players in your market are so you aren’t significantly underselling or overselling your rooms. If you are, you won’t be able to compete. On top of this, being aware of their activity may provide an opportunity to snare extra bookings. For example, changing rates could indicate the occupancy of a competitor or a promotion based on something you could also benefit from. There are specific data systems hotels can use to monitor competitors.
With an optimised OTA profile, your hotel will not only gain bookings from third-party channels but direct traffic to your website should also increase, helping you to offset the commission fee you pay.