In an ideal world, all hotel bookings would be made direct on your own website with no commission needing to be paid. However, Online Travel Agents (OTAs) are still widely used by guests making their bookings online. You can make the most of OTAs to ensure you have exposure to your target market while also enticing people to book direct on your website.
Should I list on as many OTAs as possible?
When it comes to how many OTAs you list your property on, more is not always better. Every OTA you connect to requires time to set up and keep content and photos up-to-date. It is best to find which ones get you enough bookings to be worthwhile and invest your time into those, rather than connect to many which may only yield one or two extra bookings a year.
It is important to understand your target market when deciding what OTAs to use. If you run a hotel, you will see bookings come in from popular sites such as Booking.com and Expedia. If you manage holiday houses, your target market is likely to be looking on sites such as AirBnB and VRBO (Stayz).
Google is also rising as a large player in the meta-search area. Using Google Hotel Ads or the Google Free Booking Link can bring in more direct bookings instead of sending potential guests to OTAs instead.
Hold back rooms in peak periods
During peak periods such as Christmas and school holidays you can hold back rooms from being sent to OTAs. This may be in the form of a buffer so the OTA receives less rooms than you actually have or a complete stop sell so you are only accepting direct bookings during these times. Doing this allows you to still have a presence on third party sites but reduce the amount of commission you pay over periods you know you will sell out regardless.
Entice people to book direct
Some guests may use OTAs during their initial search to narrow down their choice of accommodation before checking your direct website. Using a popup on your website such as Levart’s Why Book Direct Widget shows guests what benefits they’ll receive for booking direct. You can offer a discounted price or additional items such as late checkout, room upgrades or a free bottle of wine.
You can also send your rates to OTAs at a set percentage higher. This not only always makes your website prices cheaper, but also helps offset the commission for guests that do book through the third party.
Reward loyalty for returning guests
Once a guest is staying at your property you can encourage them to return by offering a loyalty promo code with a discount. This could be placed on a card in the room with a link to your website or in a post- checkout email that you send once they guest has left.