When it comes to increasing the visibility of your hotel and maintaining maximum occupancy of your rooms, it’s vital that you have a well-planned and diverse marketing strategy. Of course, you need to ensure that booking directly with you is as simple and easy as possible. However, the reality is that relying on your website alone to achieve this is a mistake. Online travel agencies (OTAs) and metasearch engines are playing an increasingly important role for consumers, particularly during the ‘research’ stage of the traveller booking journey. And if you want to reach as many potential guests as possible in both domestic and international markets, increasing your OTA connections is a no-brainer. Here are three of the top reasons to increase your OTA connections.
Optimise Your Reach Internationally
Strategically distributing your inventory across a number of OTAs means you give your property the best opportunity to reach the broadest audience both in Australia and internationally. Different OTAs reach different audiences and geographic markets so it makes sense to diversify your connections.
Listing your properties on Trip.com (formerly CTrip) in China, HRS in Germany, or Holidu in Europe for example, will invariably increase your chances to generate room nights from these source markets at a relatively low cost in terms of real marketing dollars.
When you consider that international travellers pay an average of 10% higher daily rates, stay 0.5 days longer and book 35-plus days in advance, it makes sense to ensure you expand your visibility in the overseas market too. As international visitor numbers are projected to continue rising significantly with the relaxing of Covid restrictions, it’s vital to explore OTA connections and other distributors with a strong footprint in key international source markets.
The Billboard Effect
The majority of consumers engage with OTAs as a kind of one stop shop to enable them to search destinations, compare room prices and read reviews before narrowing down their search. OTAs make it easy for travellers to compare hotels instantly without having to open up individual websites, capturing them at the all-important research stage.
However, after narrowing down their search many people will navigate directly to the hotel’s own website for more details including to browse more photos and see if they have any specific offers. And if you have a good website, with engaging content, easy navigation and a booking engine, you will likely convert the customer and win the direct booking. This is known as the Billboard Effect as the OTA acts as an advertisement for your hotel.
OTA’s have huge marketing budgets, giving them an online visibility that would be completely unaffordable and unattainable for all but the biggest hotel brands. OTA listings dominate travel search results. This is why smaller, independent hotels cannot exclude OTAs and metasearch engines from their marketing mix: they provide a level of exposure for your property that you cannot afford to do without.
New Market Segments
Reaching new market segments, including various traveller niches can be extremely expensive and time consuming unless you have significant marketing resources at your disposal. The huge variety of OTA connections and metasearch engines now available mean that you can be selective about the distribution networks that you work with.
Different online distributors can help you reach different types of consumers and provide potential new market segments. OTAs have strong affiliate networks and provide booking capabilities from many and varied associates.
Smaller OTAs need to differentiate to compete and remain in business. So not only are they cheaper, but they can also help generate marketing exposure, visibility and consumer reach in niche market segments you may not currently have access to.
Being focussed on a target market rather than a ‘spray and pray’ approach not only makes sense from a cost perspective but is also usually more effective in terms of booking conversions as you have fewer competitors.
In summary, OTAs and metasearch channels need to be a vital component of your marketing mix and distribution channel strategy. They allow you to increase your online visibility and reach a huge number of potential guests locally, nationally and internationally, when they are in the early stages of the buying process.
They spend enormous amounts of money promoting their own brands and enable you to achieve marketing efficiencies by gaining a level of market exposure more cost effectively than most other forms of advertising.
Of course, there are the obvious leading OTA’s of the world, however, there are many online hotel distributors that can be equally as beneficial for your business. It is all about finding the ones that will work best for your business.
HiSITE Channel Manager connects to more than 50 individual OTA’s, including International Channels such as Trip.com and Holidu. Extend your marketing reach internationally in an economical manner by connecting to these channels. Target your specific demographic with the likes of BedandBreakfastWorld.com, Hostels.com, Home Away or Airbnb.
Take advantage of the Billboard Effect by listing with booking.com or Hotels Combined, and attracting prospective guests to your easy to navigate website to book direct.
The ultimate goals for any hotelier are to drive more bookings, increase occupancy and grow your profitability. Without effective distribution management, you are very likely missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your business.