The hotel industry always used 3 rd party sellers in its Sales and Marketing approach, and the use of Online Travel Agents has become a “necessity” in the developing internet world.
More than 300-million consumers visit “Online Travel Agencies” every month. OTAs produce more than half of all hotel bookings each year and consequently, a hotel should embrace net presence by using OTA’s which offer visibility across the world wide web stage.
OTA usage provides Hotels with a potent, often overlooked, “secret” weapon
|1. 50% of OTA users will visit official hotel
2. website prior to booking
3. 85% say price is the most important
4. factor in deciding where to book
5. Increasing number of occupied rooms
6. OTA channels reach and traffic
7. Current OTA clients
|1. Lower costs through digital technology and marketing initiatives, e.g. non- monetary incentives
2. Capture these leads by improved user experience, user driven design and easy booking on hotel website
1.) Drive occupancy
The reach of OTA’s creates tremendous exposure and consequently allow a larger group of potential clients to get to know your property.
2.) New Clientele
Due to the global reach, OTA allow your property to be seen be a diversified client base in new markets
3.) Marketing Power
An OTA major strength is Marketing and Selling. They are very good at it and are among the largest spender of online and TV advertising. They can target potential customers far beyond the reach of any individual property.
4.) Direct Bookings
Often overlooked is the “billboard” effect; OTA’s generate a significant level of direct bookings as the exposure on the OTA’s website.
Why should you have more OTA connections for your hotel?
For hospitality marketing; more is better (increased exposure)
Being visible on more OTA websites increases your exposure, obviously, and consequently one can expect a higher number of actual bookings.
In addition, you can target specific feeder market either geographically, by segment, by interest etc.
OTA’s can actually drive traffic to your website.
Guests interested in property seen on an OTA site will often countercheck the property’s website to evaluate services provided.
It is estimated that 52% of interested clients visit the hotel website after having seen it on an OTA site.
HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR OTA COOPERATION
- Use the OTA’s big marketing budget
OTA marketing spending continues to climb, e.g. Priceline and Expedia spending over USD 24 Billion combined with a growth rate of over 20% over the past 6 years.
No individual property can come even close to that spending, consequently an OTA will help a property to use its marketing spread and reach to secure, and improve, new feeder markets.
As mentioned already above, far reaching visibility is a major key component in your property’s marketing effort.
By using OTA’s which are already control the overall booking pattern, a hotel can optimize its visibility not only worldwide but also in particular market it is interested in.
- Go International
Understand which regions are your “feeder-markets”, and which new markets you would like to explore. Experiment with new OTA’s which cover those target markets.
Continuously test and prod the OTA’s capability to unlock new potential.
- Adapt to changes
Changes in bookings, as example cancellations of groups, political changes etc. which may impact your booking situation, can be quickly addressed be leveraging the different coverages of your OTA’s, and allow quick participation in short term promotion activities across multiple agents.
- Marketing Cost
To alleviate the participation cost, explore different offers of marketing participation.
These marketing offers are often of “high value” to an individual property and may cause a surge in bookings allowing the property to adjust rates.
- The cost of distribution by different OTA’s should always be compared
- Does an OTA produce, if not, evaluate the reason (eventually prices are too high for a particular period and your competitors are “under-cutting”
- Do you receive the required coverage
Continuous evaluation, and consequent adjustments, will achieve the ROI expected
- OTA target capabilities
Individual OTA have different strengths, in addition to the different coverage areas.
Some are good with much-in-advance bookings, others specialize in shorter term bookings, others are “last minute” specialists.
Identifying their individual strength, and exploiting it, will improve a property’s ROI on OTA expenses, as well as maximize the property marketing approach. Recommended is to use the different strengths and evaluate which one covers best an individual property’s needs.
It is much easier to review direct competitor’s prices and availability based on web presence. One can easily compare and consequently adjust your pricing to strengthen either positioning or leverage occupancy.
- Channel Manager
A channel manager will help you to change availability and prices on short notice, across the entire spread of OTA signed. Manage room inventory, organize “black out” periods and leverage prices.
Being a passive OTA partner is expensive as just waiting for the OTA to produce bookings can be either “long in coming” or bookings do not meet the expected ROI.
Active participation in using the partnership’s associated marketing tools results in higher visibility, and consequently in higher bookings. The availability to change your selling status in established markets, such as inventory, pricing, room category and associated services gives a property the advantage to react fast to the always changing market conditions and to maximize the use of the available marketing tools will keep you ahead of your competition