Over the past two decades, the hotel industry has had quite a journey. New technologies and changing consumer behaviour has radically changed the way the hoteliers conduct business.
Small independent hotels to large international chains are actively promoting their business on the internet in an attempt to get the attention of a massive number of internet-savvy travellers. It has become a challenge for hotels to remain visible and drive sales within the online marketplace.
Therefore, it has become imperative for hotels to stay on top of innovation if they have to boost their business’s visibility and increase their reach. And that’s where OTAs help.
What is OTA in Hotel Industry?
Online travel agencies (OTAs) have gained an increasingly important role in the hotel industry. Simply put, OTAs are websites where you can list your hotel business to make your property more visible to a broader audience and take bookings from them.
OTAs allow potential guests to compare various hotel options on parameters such as price, location, facilities, amenities, reviews, etc. to make an informed booking decision, from the comfort of their homes or while on the go.
The statistics below reveal the importance of Online Travel Agents in the hotel industry:
Priceline, a popular OTA sells more than 2 million bed nights per month TripAdvisor, one of the world’s best OTAs receives over 315 million monthly unique visitors.
With advanced technologies, targeted email lists, million subscribers, and a team of talented hospitality professionals dispatched across the globe, OTAs have a worldwide presence that a hotel marketing team can only dream of. In short, OTA hotel management cannot be ignored.
Why your hotel needs to have OTA connections?
Here are a few reasons why your hotel needs hotel OTA connections:
Increased Online Visibility:
With competition being so fierce, it has become tough to rank your hotel website high in browser searches to get direct organic traffic, which can result in direct bookings. But if you list your property on the OTAs, you get the opportunity to be seen. Your potential guests get to know about your hotel, which would not have been possible through your own website.
So, how exactly does OTAs help in increasing your online visibility? In the last few years, the OTAs have been smartly investing in both marketing initiatives and technology solutions. This strategical approach has empowered the OTAs to keep the travellers engaged throughout their customer journey. The result: The trust of the people. Travellers now rely on the OTAs to provide them with relevant hotel options so that they can make an informed decision.
What’s the benefit for you? So, when you are listed on the OTAs, your property will be shown to the people visiting the OTAs, thereby increasing your online visibility.
Increased Website Traffic:
Research says that about 52% of travellers that see hotels on an OTA eventually end up visiting your hotel website. After seeing your hotel listing on the OTAs, curiosity sets in, compelling the travellers to visit the website to know more about the hotel.
So, how OTAs help? Through a simple process, the OTAs allow the travellers to filter out potential hotels and then lets them check the hotel websites one by one.
This means that each of your OTA connection increases the chances of people visiting your hotel website with the genuine intention of knowing what the hotel has to offer. This eventually improves your website’s traffic, translating into better conversions.
So, what’s the benefit here? The OTAs drive high traffic to your hotel website, improving the SEO and the ranking of your website.
- Increased Bookings
76% of hotel shoppers book online via OTAs, and 20% of the hotel’s direct bookings come from customers who spot the hotel through an OTA
As per a recent Google survey, 52% of travellers visit your hotel’s website after discovering you on an OTA.
People trust the hotels that are listed on the OTAs. They are open to the idea of booking your hotel (they haven’t heard of or been to) either through the OTA or on the hotel website (if they have come across your hotel via OTAs).
- OTA Ranking and Reviews Influence Travelers
Before booking a hotel, the OTAs allow travellers to access hotel reviews to check the reputation of the property. The number of reviews has an impact on the ranking of a hotel on OTAs (the OTAs have their own ranking system, which is similar to the search engines).
That means positive reviews of your hotel can boost your hotel OTA ranking, encouraging travellers to book with you.
How to maximize your OTA hotel bookings?
How do I increase my OTA hotel booking?
These OTA optimization strategies for maximizing your OTA hotel bookings can help:
Revise Your OTA Distribution Strategies
Provide up-to-date information to OTAs to ensure your guests get all the information they are looking for. Hotel revenue management software with a well-integrated meta-search manager can help you save a lot of time and effort here by automating your room rates and availability in real-time across all integrated online travel agencies. It would also be great if your chosen hotel revenue management software incorporates a one-click ready booking engine so you can maximize your direct bookings and save big on the commissions to be paid for OTA bookings.
Optimize Your OTA Profile
In a world where people make buying decisions solely based on how the product looks or is described, you got to gain a lot from an impressive online hotel OTA profile. Here’s what you can do to optimize your OTA profile:
- Complete your OTA profile: A completed hotel OTA profile is likely to rank higher in the searches. Include your hotel’s history, your current room rates, your hotel room availability, and any other information your customers might need to know before they book with you.
- Add your hotel website to the profile page: By doing so, you increase the likelihood of getting direct bookings, saving the commission fee you otherwise would have to pay the OTAs.
- Focus on your hotel’s strengths and creatively play them up: Use high-definition photographs of your hotel property, hotel rooms, and amenities to entice your potential customers.
- Keep your description catchy, crisp, and delightful: While your description should be compelling enough to make the customer book with you, it should not make promises that you cannot deliver.
Implement the Right Integrations
Integrating the OTAs with your hotel revenue management software gives you a much broader reach, engaging business as well as leisure customers through all the stages of their travel experience. So, it’s essential that you make the right integrations:
Integrate your channel manager:
Both room availability and rates fluctuate with seasonal demands and changing consumer preferences. Managing consistent room rates across online channels is difficult without hotel management software.
Hotel revenue management software needs to integrate with a channel manager to automate pricing adjustments using Artificial Intelligence. The integrated system connects more than 100 platforms across the web to post your room rates in real-time and also retrieve OTA bookings.
It also incorporates a cloud-based property management system(PMS) that works in tandem with the channel manager and the pricing system to change and update room details uniformly across OTAs in real-time. This is the most efficient and effective way to keep your OTA marketing strategy updated for increased occupancy and sales.
Also, if you don’t have an integrated hotel management system, and if there’s a cancellation, you will have to update your inventory or room manually; otherwise, your room will show as booked and may result in a loss of an opportunity.On the other hand, if you have the channel manager-hotel revenue management integrated system, your inventory gets updated in real-time, sets dynamic pricing, thus making sure that you don’t have lost opportunities.
- Integrate a booking engine plugin into your hotel website:
We have already established the fact that OTAs drive traffic to your hotel website. If you have an integrated web booking engine, you can easily convert those visitors into customers.
Create a Responsive Mobile-Friendly Hotel Website
You might have heard it often that having a mobile-friendly website is essential to your hotel business. We have a statistic to back that up. According to the latest Travel Flash Report by Criteo, over one-third of people book a hotel room using a mobile device, and OTAs’ share of mobile bookings is now 45%
Today’s travellers use a host of devices and platforms to explore their travel options. The affordability of smartphones and instant access to the Internet has revolutionized the way people browse and book hotels. If your website and booking engine are optimized for mobile devices, you can turn your OTA bookings into direct bookings, giving your hotel sales a big boost.
Therefore, you need to have a hotel website that dynamically and successfully functions on tablets, smartphones, laptops, and other devices. Thus, enabling a secure, efficient, and fast online exchange between Online Travel Agent, customer, and you.
Here are a few key things you should get right with your mobile website:
Let users know they’re getting the best deals and information
- Create a fast and frictionless experience
- Present information clearly and efficiently
- rovide easy access to your hotel’s contact details
Pay Attention to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
It’s interesting to know that OTAs use a similar algorithm to Google and other search engines. Therefore, you need to implement SEO strategies within the hotel OTA platform to help boost your results. Some examples of SEO best practices, which you can use are as follows:
Keep the title and meta description of your listing simple
- Use optimized images and high traffic keywords
Have an Effective Review Management System in Place
Your potential guests would really value first-hand information so help them make an informed choice by giving them all the information they need along with your property’s location, pictures, and amenities. Also, encourage your hotel guests to leave reviews on social media and OTAs and be sure to respond to bad reviews immediately . While the positive reviews will work to assure your potential guests of a great stay at your hotel, responding to the negative ones will convey that you are a customer-centric brand that is proactive when it comes to service recovery and customer satisfaction.
- Choose the Right OTAs
Which factors determine your OTAs selection?
Your target audience
What kind of people you cater to? OTAs these days target a specific market segment to assist travelers in booking quickly. So, you need to factor in this aspect while choosing the right OTAs for your hotel so that you can make the most of this opportunity to attract the right type of guests.
OTA’s demographic reach
It’s important to know where the majority of your guests are coming from because this is an important factor to consider while listing your property on the OTAs. Almost all OTAs are geo-specific. That is, they cater to the audience from specific geo locations or regions.
Listing on local OTAs gives you the following benefits:
Makes sure that you are known to the local public.
- Allows you to attract local guests and guests from the surrounding cities or regions.
Not all OTAs are right for all types of properties. Choose the OTAs, depending on the type of property and the amenities that you offer in your hotel. For instance: AirBnB is for solo travelers, whereas Expedia is more suited to sell 5 star and luxury rooms. Choosing the right OTA helps you to sell your rooms faster.
- OTA’s commission model
OTAs do not give you the online visibility, reach, and bookings for free. It works on a commission model, which varies from one OTA to another. So, if you are listing your property on the OTAs, you need to keep aside a budget for commissions.
When registering with an OTA, follow these tips:
- Make sure you know what commission each OTA charges you for booking a room through its website.
- Start listing your property on the OTAs that charge lower commission.
- To determine whether the OTA is worth the cost, check the customer lifetime value of guests the OTA brought in.
- OTA’s involvement in increasing your hotel visibility and bookings
Apart from listing hotels, most OTAs run loyalty or reward programs to promote the hotels listed with them. Some may offer a discount per booking while some may give out a night’s stay for free. These special offers draw the attention of the customers, encouraging them to book.
You may decide your OTA listings based on how effective their promotional programs are in boosting visibility and increasing bookings.
Top 9 Online Travel Agencies(OTAs)
Below is a list of 9 top OTAs that can help you increase your visibility and your bookings:
How Aiosell can help?
Listing your property and managing these OTA hotel profiles on various hotel OTA connections is a manual, tedious, and time-consuming task.
But, there is a smarter way to do it – through Aiosell.Aiosell is a smart hotel revenue management software
that can integrate with the list of OTAs mentioned above through a simple add on.
Once the OTAs are integrated with Aiosell, it helps you to easily list your property across various OTAs simultaneously, saving you the hassle of manually going to each OTA and listing your property.
Aiosell also provides connectivity between the OTAs, channel manager, and hotel management system to update the room rates and inventory from your booking/reservation system to other OTA connections simultaneously, thus enabling dynamic pricing, without having to log in to each of those different systems individually. As a result, your KPIs, such as revenue per available room, can be drastically improved, which in turn increases your hotel’s top and bottom lines.
OTAs are valuable assets that can help you reach a wider audience and increase your bookings. With the OTA optimizing strategies mentioned in this article, you can make a few changes in your OTA marketing strategy to derive maximum benefits from your OTA distribution channels.