29th March 2017
The constant battle of keeping up with OTAs can be tricky, but here at our hotel digital marketing agency, we have a few key solutions that you should be implementing to help you wage war on online travel agents (OTAs).
1. Optimise for mobile
In any industry, it is vital to change with your consumer, and in the world of hospitality, that means ensuring your website is as accessible as possible across all platforms.
Though the upfront cost of a website build may seem intimidating, having a fully-optimised mobile website will prove priceless when it comes to increasing direct bookings and revenue.
OTAs have super-quick, super-responsive mobile sites, and some have apps for tablets and smartphones.
If you don’t keep up, you’ll lose out.
Functionality is key.
If your consumer can find the information they need on a more easily navigable, user-friendly platform, then they will.
Don’t lose the battle against OTAs, keep up with the fast pace of today’s technology, and invest in some solid website design.
2. Guests search on mobile, but book on desktop
This means that your booking engine simply must be up to scratch.
It’s easy to be tempted by cheaper options, but will they provide your customer with the best booking experience?
Almost definitely not.
Invest in quality, and you will see a return.
It’s particularly useful if your booking engine enables customers to book offers, packages and even dining online.
Customers want the simplest and quickest consumer journey possible, so having everything in one place is a real bonus.
One problem incumbent in the splitting of the consumer journey between mobile and desktop, that you will doubtless encounter, is the issue of accurate and useful tracking.
Due to the switch from mobile to desktop to make the booking, paid search traffic on Google, Bing and Yahoo can often look like a direct booking, instead of one from PPC.
To help combat these broken links in the consumer journey, utilise call tracking, email capture, and conversion tracking tools to help measure results and get a handle on this problem of modern guest attribution.
It is worth noting, 33% of guests call the accommodation provider as part of their booking process, according to Google’s data.
This only serves to reinforce the importance of call tracking when it comes to measuring consumer booking patterns.
3. Bid on your brand terms
One question we continually get asked by hoteliers is, “Why should we bid on brand terms when people are searching for us anyway?”
And our answer? Because users don’t care where they book, and if the first search return is an OTA, they will click on it and book via them instead, costing you more in commission than you would have paid for the click.
This is why PPC for hotels is so crucial.
Booking.com and Expedia’s digital ad spend equated to nearly 5% of all Google’s advertising revenue in 2016.
Their budget equates to hundreds of thousands every day, when hotels spend less than that each month.
So, how do you compete?
According to GeoLocalSEO:
“If you only decide to do one bit of digital marketing, do Google AdWords for your hotel brand name. It is a fraction of the cost compared to the keyword “Your City” + the word “Hotels”. The OTA’s know this so if your hotel is not running that ad, the OTAs will own that advertising space above your organic listing. You’ll then pay 12% – 25% commission on something that should be either a free listing for you or one that costs a lot less through Google AdWords than the OTA commission.”
It’s an ongoing battle, but it’s important to keep up the fight against OTAs.
4. Use OTAs to help drive direct bookings
Even though OTAs are continually bidding on your brand terms and appear next to your website on search engines, you can use it to your advantage!
They are helping to drive attention to your brand, so make sure that you capture guests and drive them directly to your website instead.
We all know that SEO is one of the most powerful ways of getting guests onto your direct site, and in this current phase of digital marketing, you cannot afford to neglect this area of expertise.
Content is king.
Producing high-quality content that is optimised thoroughly and updated regularly is essential for boosting your online presence, and getting guests to come direct!
According to Mews Systems, “Proper SEO lures people to your website like ants to honey. The more content your website offers, the more ants you can feed.”
SEO is one of the most powerful ways to battle against OTAs competitively large Adwords budgets.
It can often feel like an uphill battle, but by implementing a combination of these four key strategies, you will stand the best chance of reducing your reliance on OTAs.