Your hotel doubtlessly has its own marketing strategy in place, which currently may or may not include the use of online travel agents (OTAs) to help give your occupancy levels a boost. Whilst many hoteliers rely on OTAs in this way, as a third-party source of bookings – others prefer to use them as a stealthy yet highly-effective marketing tool which fuels direct bookings via your website, instead of depleting them. Here’s our quick guide to how your hotel can do the same…
Keep Your Content Updated
If you want to promote your hotel, you need to ensure the content listed with your online travel agent is up to date. Outdated information will only lead to suspicion from your potential hotel guests, who will either wonder what it is you’re hiding, or suspect the same level of carelessness extends to the fundamental running of your hotel. It is more likely that they won’t even see your hotel listed if you don’t update on a regular basis – as keeping photos, amenities and text up to date ensures you remain relevant in searches. These updates might not seem very important, but they can make the world of difference when it comes to sparking that all important initial interest in your offering.
Be More Strategic
Many OTAs offer hoteliers a widget/app which can be installed directly to their website, showing the latest rates for their rooms via the online travel agent. This can be tremendously helpful in showing potential guests how much great value your hotel is offering, but nonetheless must be used with caution. If you’re trying to score more direct bookings, the last thing you want is for your prospect to leap from your website to the OTA and book via them. For this reason, ensure you take two very important actions. Firstly, keep the widget somewhere it does not interfere with the remainder of your website. A sidebar, or lower down the page than you might initially plan. This way, your potential guest should have already scrolled through a lot of information, and perhaps commenced a direct booking, before seeing alternate ways to book. Display your OTA information with pride, but don’t let it dominate your entire online strategy or you’ll be missing out on plenty of bookings which could have otherwise been made directly.
Boost Your Online Presence
If you’re using your OTAs as an online calling card for further investigation, then it pays to make sure the other pages of your online presence are in good order, too! This means polishing up your website with information about how quick, simple and affordable it is to book directly, as well as checking your reviews are showing your hotel in the best light, having a top-notch booking engine, and keeping your social media updated with the latest bargains and information for travellers. As an independent hotel, you have many benefits when using online travel agents – but to keep customers booking directly, remember to pay close attention to how each element of your online strategy supports this aim.
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