Whether you’re new to the hotel industry or have been part of it for decades, you’ll doubtless share one opinion on online travel agencies (OTAs).
No, no – not that one…
This one: there are so many of them. There’s the biggies, of course, but the number of smaller, niche OTAs has simply exploded in recent years.
This presents something of a problem for savvy hoteliers who want to maximise their presence online; how do you choose the right OTAs for your hotel?
As it turns out, it comes down to four simple factors. But first…
It’s about quality – not quantity
Spreading your wings wide online and having a presence on several OTAs has always been good practice, but that can lead to OTA overload if you get too carried away.
Your agency strategy should be one that focuses on quality rather than quantity. Even with the best channel manager in the world linked up and ready to go, you’re still giving yourself rather too much work if you sign up to every OTA under the sun.
Instead, it’s better to seek out the OTAs that best fit your hotel’s ethos, target market and, obviously, which are the most cost effective.
Here’s how to find them:
1. Check the audience
If you list your rooms and rates on an OTA that targets an audience you’d never target yourself your hotel might begin filling with customers who’s demands, tastes and expectations simply can’t be fulfilled.
For instance, if you cater mainly for couples seeking short breaks in kid-free environments, listing your hotel on a family-oriented OTA is probably going to result in some rather uncomfortable guest clashes.
Before you sign up to any OTA, find out exactly what type of audience they’re targeting by either asking them directly or scouring their website (the clues will be there).
2. Suss out the price
Every booking sent via an OTA comes at a price – that will never change. However, to avoid getting too grumpy over commission, you need to look at it more positively.
Which commission rates are going to deliver the best bang for your buck? If the OTA appears to target your perfect market, or is likely to bring in some high-spending guests, a slightly higher commission rate is probably a price worth paying.
Oh, and the commission rate should reflect something else you get, too…
3. …the features!
Not all OTAs are made the same; some offer specific rate management and listing features that you won’t find elsewhere – and some of those features may not be compatible with your marketing plan at all.
One of the key things to check during your OTA shopping trip is compatibility with your PMS and channel manager. Without that, an OTA is next to useless, because you’ll end up in double-booking hell and with a huge amount of work that should be undertaken by software.
OTAs spend a lot of time and money creating new features that hoteliers can take advantage of – just make sure they’re features you’re likely to use.
4. The guest experience
Time to put your guest hat on.
What’s the OTA like when it comes to booking a room? Is the booking process accessible, intuitive and likely to resonate with your audience?
A great feature set, cost effective commission rate and perfect audience is nothing if the OTA is a pig to use – tough but true.
Happy OTA hunting! Take your time, but use the four factors above to narrow down your search to the most relevant websites for your hotel.
Been there and done it? What’s your OTA strategy? Have we missed something? If so, tell us in the comments section, below.