No hotelier underestimates the marketing prowess of OTAs. Yet everyone recognizes the high cost of each OTA booking.
The popularity of online travel agencies (OTA) has always put hosting providers in a difficult position. For one thing, their ubiquitous reach and high advertising budgets bring vital brand awareness to properties. Also, many customers prefer the familiarity of booking through well-known OTA brands.
Yet this scope comes at a high cost. 15% – 20% for each booking. At times like now, when the industry is crippled by a virus, the expense is even harder to bear.
So how can you reduce your addiction to OTAs? Let’s explore in this blog.
First, OTAs are not your enemies
Don’t play the victim. OTAs are where your customers search the most, and they’re here to stay. They offer something you can’t recreate: reaching the right people, at the right time. So stop crying about commissions and take advantage of this scope and the customer booking journey in a way that makes the most of the reach of OTAs.
Boost direct bookings
We all know that it is not possible to negotiate commission rates given the power of OTAs. In fact, if you push too hard, you may find yourself cut off from their channel.
Fortunately, an OTA is not the only point of contact in a customer’s booking journey. There are others, including your website. If you optimize it, by converting OTA viewers to bookers, you can develop direct bookings and reduce OTA fees. Let’s see some ideas to develop your direct booking tart.
Create a stunning and user-friendly website
Your website is your storefront. Every opportunity someone glances at is an opportunity to convert them into a sale. For this, the window must be very attractive.
High-quality videos and images that load quickly and tell your story compellingly are your opportunity to invite users to experience what a stay with you would be like. Understand your audience. Organize your content according to their needs and answer their questions. Leverage the intelligence of a smart booking engine that meets user needs, is easy to use, easier to manage in the background, and designed to leverage insights to generate direct revenue.
Make attractive direct offers
Don’t let rate parity keep you from making offers that will result in a booking. Get creative to add value to the customer, without violating rate parity conditions. Provide access to free amenities. Offer discounts for friends and family or return reservations or add upgrades. Make sure your booking engine introduces these offers at the right moment of a user journey on the site, causing a reservation.
Allow customers to compare rates to OTAs while on your website (a stellar feature of the STAAH booking engine) so they stay and book through your website.
Build a loyalty program
Guests who have experienced and enjoyed your service are likely to be your biggest advocates by referring friends and family, providing great reviews online, or returning for another stay. .
Encourage customers to join your loyalty program with incentives and make sure you always have a database of people to contact with direct offers and last minute offers.
Become a proactive digital marketer
In order to sell more rooms directly, you need to take a more omnichannel approach. Leverage the channels OTAs have mastered to establish your own brand and identity. With a few code snippets, a lot can be done. If all of this sounds a little daunting, consider hiring a digital marketing agency.
Research is a powerful medium. Is your website optimized for organic traffic (SEO)? What is your paid marketing strategy on Google? Have you connected Google Ads via your STAH platform yet? It’s a free and effective way to harness the power of google to look for.
Equally important digital channels are email and social networks. Halfway between OTAs and social media, online reviews are imperative to increasing your brand preference and getting booked.
Maintain your profiles on OTAs
A well-written profile, highlighting your experience and amenities on OTAs is very important. Remember, this is where most of your guests will begin their search. In order to get them interested enough to come to your website, become great at telling your OTA story.Abstract
It’s not realistic to aim for an overnight reduction in commissions – unless you fully utilize OTAs, which we don’t advise. Implement the above, however, and you should see a regular fit of your direct booking ratio on OTA.