OPTIMIZE FOR THE BEST RESULTS
To get the full benefit of OTAs and their reach, here are nine proven ways you can optimize your hotel’s profile:
1.Know your market managers
Build a relationship with them as you would any other business partner. OTAs offer tremendous value, so it’s wise to use your market manager and get the best value through them.
2.Recognize the OTA is a marketing and sales channel for your hotel
Like any brand, your hotel’s marketing and sales efforts should be consistent across all your selected channels. As with your availability, don’t save your best images and content just for your direct website; make sure they’re on your OTA listings, too. Compliment high resolution images with detailed room descriptions to showcase the best your hotel has to offer. And, be sure to provide as much detail on your cancellation and check-in policies. Research shows fewer travellers will book when these details are missing.
3.Offer the same availability as you would your hotel website or any other channel
Do you currently provide the same availability to ALL your selected OTAs, or is it a guessing game as to which will fill your rooms first? Availability is crucial and because it will fluctuate, particularly during peak or seasonal periods, you need to make sure it is equal and accurate across all your OTAs – always. Using a channel manager that updates OTAs in real-time and has pooled inventory functionality is the best way to achieve this and ensure travellers aren’t disrupted by double bookings or incorrect data. This way, you can achieve higher conversions and keep your rate of occupancy high.
4.Cleverly manage your rates and promotions
Guests don’t simply use OTAs for a wide range of choice and inspiration; often they’re looking for last minute deals and offers. If you have time-sensitive promotions they’ll have a greater chance of being taken up and you can more easily sell your distressed inventory. Make alterations on your OTA profiles to highlight a particular rate or capitalize on seasonal events to attract and convert more guests.
5.Carefully respond to guest reviews
While only 14% of consumers trust traditional advertising, 92% respect reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor. Reviews on OTAs are traditionally reliable because guests can only post a review after they’ve stayed at the property. However, only 36% of hoteliers respond to reviews on OTA sites.
It’s important to do an efficient job of managing online reviews, and recognizing the essential role they play in both your guests’ post-stay experience and in influencing the perception of other potential guests. Capitalize on the ability to reach consumers directly.
6.Consider paid advertising
This option isn’t restricted to large hotel corporations. It can also be a viable option for independent hotels on a pay-per-click basis. While paid advertising is no guarantee of more bookings, it will make your property more impressionable and provide you more control over your marketing message. If your content and aesthetic is strong, you should see a rise in revenue and your OTA ranking.
7.Focus on specific markets
Narrowing down your targets will mean you impact a lower volume of customers but you’re also more likely to secure the bookings you want if you use certain time periods, events or other methods to target specific audiences. For example, you can employ geo-targeting so only Chinese travellers see a particular promotion.
8.Understand your competition
It’s vital to know your local competition so you aren’t significantly underselling or overselling your rooms. If you are, you won’t be able to compete. Being aware of their activity may also provide an opportunity to snare extra bookings. For example, changing rates could indicate the occupancy of a competitor or a promotion based on something you could also benefit from. There are specific market intelligence systems hotels can use to monitor competitors.
9.Consider entering into a preferred partner agreement
Through a preferred partner agreement, an OTA will rank your hotel higher in return for a larger commission. I’m sure the thought of paying more commissions is the furthest thing from your mind, but understand that this is typically a short-term strategy only. Your goal should be to get on to page 1 of an OTA, so the long-term benefits can far outweigh the short-term costs. Once you increase your conversions, you can pull back on your commission rate as, by then, you will have already increased your ranking organicall If you’re going to pursue this option, tread carefully and analyze, analyze, analyze.
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