For a profitable hotel business, the most preferable booking channel is booking engines. But on the contrary, Online Travel Agencies have a maximum share of the total number of hotel bookings.
Hotels have to pay commissions to OTAs for bookings they bring and hence this decreases their margin.
But instead of trying to pull a fight, hotels should go with the flow and learn how to extract the maximum out of the current scenario. OTAs can be very powerful allies and can get you a lot of opportunities to make money
So I have tried to discuss some of the tips that can be profitable in the mission of getting the most out of the OTA distribution.
1. Improvize your OTA profile
Your OTA profile should be lucrative enough to attract travelers to book your service. Always provide correct information to OTAs. Upload beautiful pictures of your hotels and write good descriptions.
Hire a professional photographer and get some attractive photos of the property clicked.
Investing in good quality pictures really pays off as they create your first impression and they motivate travelers to make the bookings.
2. Update inventories and rates
Keeping rates and inventories updated on all the OTAs on which you have listed your property. Customers prefer updated information.
Apart from that if there is an inventory mismatch then there are chances of overbooking and under-bookings.
Updating rates and inventories on all the channels manually is a hectic task so you should use a quality hotel booking engine and a channel manager.
3. Choose OTAs wisely
You have to be very precise when it comes to the selection of the OTA otherwise you will end up paying a lot of commission and decreasing your margin.
The first criteria should be the traffic that OTA is getting. If the OTA is not popular enough with the people then why waste money on it.
The second thing can be selecting OTAs on the basis of region. The first step in every business is recognizing your customer. So you should first understand your client base and select OTA accordingly.
The reason behind this is obvious. The popularity of OTAs can vary with the region also.
4. OTA’s Commission
Hoteliers have thought that the OTAs charge too much as commissions. But it is also a reality that OTAs offer many options to the hotels too.
You have to keep an eye on while evaluating the performance of the OTAs you have invested in. If an OTA is worth the single penny you have invested in then what is the necessity of slandering it.
5. Customer Service for profitable business
Travelers make their bookings after a lot of research, they take a well-educated decision. There are a lot of comparisons involved hence you should serve yourself as a value for money option.
Use your ex-customer so well that they become a source of free marketing.
Provide customer support where they can put their thoughts, try to get positive reviews from them, and post them on social media and other platforms.
6. Offer discounts for profitable business
Discounts and price cuts are always the best methods to attract customers. People like to do travel hacking i.e. looking for discounts and last-minute cut-offs or any loyalty programs to make their journey economical.
So try to be reasonable with your prices.
7. Bundled services
OTAs provide flight bookings, car rentals, and other services apart from hotel booking. Hence when they bundle different services together hotels get the chance to play with the prices and dodge rate parity.
They can provide differential prices for packaged products.
8. Aim for high rankings in the OTA’s search result
Like search engines, OTAs also show various results in their search results. Now, a hotel should aim for the highest rank in those search results. The practice is the same as Hotel SEO.
Just as a search engine has an algorithm, OTAs also have an algorithm so hoteliers should keep an eye on these algorithms, and whenever there is a change you should change your SEO strategy accordingly.
9. Curb them for profitable business
OTAs are only limited to the booking of the hotel. The real king is the hotelier, he has the product to be provided to the customer. Ergo, when a guest comes to your hotel you should make him a loyal customer.
As the ex-CEO of Expedia said
You guys all criticize me for how much I charge you for guests to come to your hotel. I think you’re looking at it wrong. Look at us as the cheapest source of referrals that you could imagine. If they come through me, you pay me once, and if they come back to me again and again, shame on you. You should make them a loyal customer
10. Do not over depend
You have to be very smart when you allow the inventories to OTAs. You do not have to allow all your rooms to the OTAs and depend on them for the booking.
Allocate a part of your total inventory to the OTAs and keep a part for yourself. You will have to strike the perfect balance here.
If keep more inventory to yourself then you will be left with vacant rooms and if you give OTAs more than the required inventory then you will end up giving more commission.
Ergo be very careful in inventory allotment.
11. Run Loyalty Programmes
Loyalty Programmes have probably become one of the most potent marketing strategies for almost every business. You have to use them to make a loyal customer base. This will increase your direct bookings.
And as it is said that a loyal customer is the cheapest source of marketing. Also, they come directly to you if they need a hotel hence saving your OTA commission.
So these were some of the tips to make your OTA strategy more profitable. Although the competition is increasing day by day in the hotel industry it is also true that this industry booming at an exponential rate. So the hotel owners have to grab any possibility to earn as much as they can.
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