How to Maximize Your Revenue with OTA and Direct Bookings
Online travel agencies like booking.com have achieved their success by filling a market void and doing it well. No longer are wholesalers, agencies, and tourist operators required in the booking process. Where people know they can save without additional cost like time, they will.
The downside for you as a hotelier with OTA success is they have become really good in the digital space at brand highjacking hotels and accommodation providers. Every day the smart online operators snatch direct bookings.
If you cut them off, your occupancy rate may plummet in half. How do you maximize your revenue with the OTAs and direct bookings?
Our advice at Fastrack is to not run from the OTAs. They are not all evil. The top ones generate bookings from their great platforms which otherwise would not have come your way.
OTAs have an existing market reach and actively spend money to advertise on your behalf. They are sales staff working on your behalf who earn their commissions.
Another often overlooked benefit of OTAs is they create brand awareness for direct bookings. This is called the "billboard effect". People "drive by" your listing on OTAs to later search your name in Google. When one client de-listed themselves in the OTAs then later re-listed, we estimated a 25% boost in direct bookings.
The problem of OTA dominance arises when they detract from your direct bookings when you lack search engine presence.
- Maximize your OTA presence with clear descriptions and photography
- Have a good website that converts. Without this asset, every direct booking is harder to get
- Get listed in the top booking sites of 2014. They help you achieve maximum occupancy and boost direct bookings
- Even if all your bookings come indirect, retain customers through email marketing, loyalty programs, and most importantly - providing a great experience - so you can establish direct bookings
- Have a lowest price guarantee on your website. Google in their 2014 travel study found 76% of leisure travelers and 70% of business travelers book through an OTA because they had a better price or deal
- Build assets more in your control. Rather than dumping all reviews onto TripAdvisor, get some on your Google Plus. This helps your SEO.
- Do SEO and PPC. These are your best avenues to acquire new bookings and takes advantage of the billboard effect. Here's a beginners guide I wrote explaining SEO and PPC for hotels
If you'd like help to drive more direct bookings, give us at Fastrack a call on 1300 659 289.