Having worked for a number of independent hotels, I appreciate the difficulty in attracting clients online to come and stay at your hotel or Resort. It is a highly competitive market place, especially online with a number of dominant players who have bigger budgets and therefore higher visibility.
So the obvious solution for independent hotels when promoting online, is to contract with as many OTAs (Online Travel Agents) as possible. You can also pay a higher commission to gain a higher position in the searches and compete with the big boys. A recent study by HeBS Digital (2014) found that 70% of online bookings for independent hotels come from OTAs. For Europe, booking.com is the dominant player where the independent hotels receive the majority of there reservations.
Having such a high level of dependency on OTA´s in the mid to long term for any hotel will ultimately affect your bottom line. Even booking.com does not believe that there website will be their major source of income over the next few years demonstrated by the recent acquisition of Buuteeq, a hotel marketing platform which has been rebranded to suite.booking.com With their recent purchase, they are going to provide a digital marketing platform for independent hotels to increase their visibility and revenue through their web. Google´s introduction (www.google.com/hotels) into the market place and the recent change to price guarantee in Europe are big market changes. Even Amazon recently announced that they a dipping there toe into the travel market with a trial in New York.
So what is the right strategy to follow?
- Connectivity to Google HPA, Tivago & Tripadvisor
- Adword campaign to increase visibility in searches
- Increase comments on your hotel´s google plus page
- Ensure your own web site has the best price
- SEO & SEM digital Campaigns
- Targeted Youtube campaigns
- Comprehensive Data Capture strategy
- Optimized Web & easy to use booking engine
- Close out in OTA´s where you have little or no visibility or high commission rates
Is the above going to allow you to stop working with OTA´s?
With the introduction of websites like Trivago, it has made it even easier to search for the best price for your hotel and by always having the best price on your website, this is going to help increase your direct reservation revenue. You can also close out the OTA´s where you have little or no risk. The main players like booking.com will always provide you revenue as they are a global player and a magnificent booking engine but at least over the course of a few years you will be much less dependent which in turn reduces the amount you pay in commissions.
The market is changing rapidly but what is clear is that hotels have a terrific opportunity to increase there direct reservations. Over the course of the last 10 years hotels went from being dependent on travel wholesalers to online travel agents. Lets break the habit of dependency and create our own client base!.
If you would like to find out more, feel free to get in touch with us.