If you are in the hotel industry for some time, you are fully aware of the importance and impact Online Travel Agencies have on your business. Most probably a good portion of the reservation you’re getting are labeled as Booking.com, Expedia.com or Hotels.com bookings. Being around this long, these giants are doing their jobs pretty well – creating publicity and bringing guest to their client’s check-in desks. Best of all, for this advertising model and their effort, you only get charged if you too get business. Sounds like quite a deal, right?
Question is: Are the OTAs slowly becoming your partners in profit or can you do good without them?
Too important not to be taken seriously
Behind all major OTA brand names, stand multi-billion companies with multi-million annual marketing budgets, thus gaining the importance and influence over you target audience – the potential guests. OTA sites are popular with the travelers solely because they provide simple way of displaying all relevant data for the traveler to compare and make the final decision on the accommodation of choice. Plus, not only the traveler doesn’t pay extra for this service, frequently he’s given extra benefits if the booking is done with the OTA.
It is you, the hoteliers, who pay for all this facilitation in the end. Commissions have doubled in the past years, so many OTA charge 20% and more on every single reservation driven from their service.
If a guest calls you on the phone or sends you an e-mail inquiry you don’t pay commission to anyone, naturally. So why do you throw money at the OTAs for online bookings then? Is there no other way, just because they bring so much traffic to your place you’re obliged to hand over half the earnings you make?! Of course not, bet on your direct booking channels.
The smarter, better way
Marketing. And I don’t mean ads. Marketing strategy. It all comes down to the way you develop your hotel marketing strategy.
Efficient long-term marketing strategy, coupled with strong direct booking channels, will significantly reduce your dependence on OTAs over time.
By all means, keep being present on all possible OTAs, even more than you’re currently on. Exploit the free publicity they give you, but play smart. Strengthening your direct booking channels is a key element for this transformation.
Travelers choose to book through OTAs just because it is easy and familiar, remember that!
So give them exactly that – a simple and familiar way to book on your own website. They will always check your website before they book anywhere. Make your site and booking engine functionally adequate to convert potential to booking clients. If you give them a good deal, a little extra while matching the OTA’s price, they book right there and then! After that, it’s up to you to over-deliver on every possible guest expectation and check the reviews on TripAdvisor for ways to improve even further.
The degree of how advanced your direct booking channels are, will determine the ratio between the reservations that take money out of your pocket and the ones that put money in.
If you are ready to improve your sales and quit leaving money on the table, get in touch with us and our team will help you achieve your goals.