Being a hoteling professional, what is your take against the OTAs? Without doubts, most of you feel beaten up about the unfair advantages they take home.
Well, you aren’t alone, because many hoteliers find themselves struggling on the same page as you. Fact is, hotels believe they simply can’t survive without OTAs like Booking.com and Expedia.
As much as hoteliers prefer to generate revenue directly, they feel that they’re simply unable to beat the revenue being produced through these giant sized OTAs. This revenue generated, of course, comes with a high commission cost of 15-18%.
However, if you observe this situation closely, it will be soon realized that wars aren’t won overnight. Nothing can be gained if you are unwilling to get into action. In order to march ahead of OTAs at their own game, you need to realize the areas where you’ve been lacking expertise as a hotel. Some of the mistakes mentioned below might cause you to lose more revenue than you can possibly imagine.
What mistakes do hoteliers make and how to correct them?
1) Poor Hotel Website Handling and Booking Process
Poor website handling and maintenance is the major reason behind hotels losing against OTAs. If you are not actively investing time and money in building up your hotel’s website, you are giving away your direct bookings to big OTAs yourself. Also naturally, when you aren’t providing a smooth booking engine functionality and user experience, you are deliberately training guests to look elsewhere for better offers.
Here is what you must do:
- Maintain a modern hotel website that is highly converting and is well equipped with a compatible booking engine.
- Make direct bookings on your website attractive, smooth and easy to confirm for all visitors.
- Keep an eye on your volume of booked revenue and source of bookings.
- Set your hotel website rates lower than the rates available on the OTAs.
- Give your guests more reasons to book direct.
Have a look at some of these ideas below:
- Free breakfast when booking direct
- Early check ins or late check out
- Free dessert and wine with main courses
- Include Wi-Fi in your room rate
- Free valet parking or laundry service
2) Fear of Spending Money on Marketing
If you are one of those hotels that hold on to the age-old question of “Why should I spend money on marketing on sales and marketing at all?” you are making a major mistake. Even after you have a completely re-designed look of your website, you must allocate sufficient marketing funds for your hotel. Hotels spending time and money on their branding and digital marketing always gain more revenue in the longer term.
Marketing in the hospitality industry should focus on
- PPC (Pay-per-click)
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Metasearch SEM, (Google, TripAdvisor, Kayak)
- Google Hotel Ads, Google Hotel Finder
If you are still confused regarding how much to spend on ads and marketing, consider allotting a budget of 4-9% from your room revenue. If you are strategic and wise in spending your money in digital marketing, you would soon begin to see a healthy boost in your direct bookings.
3) Poor Booking Engine Functionality
Another blooper is keeping a booking engine which is not integrated properly with your hotels’ website. If your booking engine offers a poor booking experience to your guests, why would they book with you or recommend you to anyone? Up your booking engine’s game by applying the tools that OTAs like Booking.com and Expedia use.
To improve your booking functionality:
- Make sure your website is perfectly integrated with a smart, high-class booking engine.
- Keep the pricings and room types on your website very simple.
- Avoid using jargons, use single line, impactful and innovative sentences.
- Throw discount messages and customer reviews here and there.
- Use device based discounts to your potential guests on your website.
- Offer membership discounts and price fencing based on geo locations.
- Reassure your guests about discounts on advanced booking value and length of stay.
- Guarantee your guests that they are going to get the best possible rate only when they book directly with you.
Independent hotel websites are not performing better because they lack some of the above basic abilities to fight against OTAs. Being a hotelier, you certainly need to step it and fight against giant-sized OTAs if you want to regain control of your inventory. So, what’s the delay? Stop giving away your hard-earned commissions right now! Start acting, taking help from BookingWhizz if you want to outsmart those OTAs once and for all. Our company offers all the services mentioned above and much, much more.
Do not offer a resign to the belief that OTAs will always be dominating hotels. You have the ability to fight back—let’s start the battle!