1 – High Online Travel Agency (OTA) Rankings are critical to succeed
Hotel marketers are acutely aware of the power of online rankings, but what is not often realised is that results vary based on location, user, appliance, browser etc. For example, when a user in London searches for a specific hotel in India on a certain OTA, the ranking results on OTAs of that search can be different from a user based in India searching for the same hotel on the same OTA. Hence rankings are less relevant in general and widely misunderstood!
The best practice to follow is to encourage & incentivise customers to leave reviews to keep improving hotel ranking and review scores.
The best way to ensure that your Trip Advisor rating is reflective of your hotel’s actual performance is to encourage past guests to leave a review. Often, it is the customers who have negative experiences who are the most vocal on review sites, so encouraging past guests who have had positive experiences to do a review is also important.
As each guest checks out, provide them with a card (or send them an email post stay) inviting them to share their experiences on respective OTAs and/or on Trip Advisor.
2 – We are a boutique hotel & OTAs are for the mass market
In more traditional markets, the belief is that retail travel agencies place the majority of the bookings at hotels. However online travel agencies have matured (even in markets like India & China) and unfortunately, hotels are wary about combining the existing traditional travel agencies with established online travel agencies to achieve higher occupancies and RevPAR.
Focusing on one or two channels as a business source can be a risky strategy. Diversifying channels is critical to maintaining high occupancy and rates. When there are times the traditional travel agencies are weak, the hotels will be able to supplement with online channels. It should be considered as an additional channel to increase overall occupancy and maximise Average Daily Rates (ADR).
There are a number of things which need to happen once hotels are present on OTAs. Hotels need to start by identifying the true competitive set and complete a pricing review. This is critical as pricing needs to be competitive in relation to other relevant competitor hotels in your location.
Then hotels should work closely with the OTAs to identify all possible offers and promotional opportunities on an ongoing basis which leads to hotels enhanced visibility.
3 – Generating additional business through Online Travel Agencies is difficult
Online Travel Agencies are often seen as a necessary evil in the hotel industry. A big part of the negativity towards them stems from the commission and not getting enough bookings from these channels.
If the hotel is looking to maximise OTA productivity and spread the net wider, here are some questions for you to consider.
a) Are you satisfied with the existing business with the current OTAs?
b) Is there any room for improvement to increase the hotel profile online? (It is not enough to just be present, it is critical to be visible and appealing as well )
c) Would you like to identify additional OTAs that may be relevant for your hotel?
It is critical that hotels are able to work closely and collaborate with the OTA’s effectively to have optimal results. The speed of response from the hotel is also important.