There are multiple opinion pieces pushing ways in which hoteliers can free themselves from online travel agencies and increase their own direct bookings.
NB: This is an analysis by Sabrina Lugo at Ice Portal.
Even though most of these suggestions seem wonderful, it is not how the real world ACTUALLY works. Many hotels don’t have the budget to beat OTAs marketing efforts, and quite honestly, this is the most important thing of all.
If your hotel is not front and center after a Google search query, it will not be looked at. So basically, you hate them but can’t live without them.
However, there is one important thing that you need to understand: without OTAs, you would be lost in a pool of competitors and subsequently customers will have little access to you website, because it is impossible to find! They do not hurt your hotel.
Here are the most common misconceptions we believe hoteliers have in regards to the OTAs.
1. OTAs work against me
If anything, you try to work against OTAs, because all you can think of if the outrageous commission percentage they take from each room sold on their site.
The best way to make the most out of OTAs is to work with them towards the common goal, which is to increase overall bookings! Would you rather give 10-25% commission rate or for that particular consumer to book elsewhere and lose that sale completely?
2. Do not provide me direct bookings
Well, according to a WIHP study – a 3 year survey on the billboard effect- 20% of your direct bookings come from people who discovered your hotel on an OTA.
In addition to that, a Google study says 52% of travelers will visit your hotel’s website after seeing you on an OTA.
3. They’re only used for price comparison
Many believe that consumers only look at prices whenever they are on OTAs, and that is why they don’t really care on the way their listing is displayed on these channels.
This is a major mistake! In order to receive the desired results, you need to optimize your OTA listing and fill it with other features that consumers also take into consideration when navigating through these sites, such as reviews, photos, and hotel descriptions.
4. They don’t benefit my company
Even though they’re all over the place, holding bells and covering your hotel’s site on Google, thanks to them you got thousands of clients prospectively looking at your hotel.
Furthermore, 52% of them end up coming to your website, representing a fresh new batch of prospective customers to your front door.
Seriously, it is time to stop the nonsense. Quite frankly, in a couple of years (if not months) metasearch sites will be the next thing you will have to worry about –when in reality you should be thankful for them.
According to MMGY Global’s 2013 Portrait of American travelers, 28% of travelers head to a metasearch site when looking for accommodations, and I would expect that number to increase rapidly within the next year.
These sites are becoming extremely helpful and popular for travel consumers, simply because metasearch compiles the best results for a specific travel request, thus saving the consumer loads of time and providing them with valuable information; and you can’t forget that within these results consumers will inevitably find the OTAs.
Just on Kayak hotel queries accounted for 14% of its travel searches (eMarketer).
In addition to that, for metasearch being a relatively “new” thing, 6% of US traffic into OTAs comes to them from metasearch sites (eMarketer).
In this cluster of worldwide hotels, OTAs are the ones that know how to reach out to people. Like it or not there is no way of competing against them, and doing so may only hurt your brand. It boils down to the fact that these giant companies have invaluable resources, strategies, reach and audience to market themselves and your property much better than you could probably do so in the online travel search market. So, how are you going to make the most out of them?
NB: This is an analysis by Sabrina Lugo at Ice Portal