At Vibrant Management, we find that our properties see an average of around 12 percent of their overall bookings coming from OTAs, or other travel agencies. This includes sites like Bookings.com, Hotels.com, or Expedia.
OTA bookings can be a positive thing for your hotel, vacation rental, or resort. OTA sites, and especially popular ones like Booking or Expedia, can expose your property to guests who may have never heard of you. These customers are already searching there, and if your site isn’t included in an OTA’s listings for an area, you’re missing out on a large portion of potential customers. For new properties, in particular, OTAs can be a great source of exposure and a form of marketing.
However, because OTAs do take a percentage of bookings made on their sites, having too high a percentage of your overall bookings coming from OTAs can have an impact on your bottom line.
Like most businesses in the travel industry, OTAs saw a drop in revenue at the start of 2020 and the outbreak of COVID-19. But they are once again on the rise. As a business in the tourism industry, if you find yourself with an increasingly high percentage of your bookings coming from OTAs, it’s time to take stock of why this might be. Keep reading as we explore what you need to know, how to encourage direct bookings, and how a Utah hotel marketing management company can help.
Why Your OTA Bookings May Be High
There are a number of reasons why your property may see a higher percentage of OTA bookings than direct bookings.
The first is that your property is new. It takes time to get your website ranking well for the keywords that your guests are using when searching for a place to stay. Even with the help of the best Utah hotel marketing management company, it still takes some time.
As a result, when guests search for things like “where to stay in Springdale Utah,” they’re more likely to land on an OTA site than on your website.
As time goes on, your website will gain traction and begin to rank well for the important keywords. Additionally, you’ll start to see more repeat bookings from previous guests, as well as word-of-mouth referrals. If you’re investing in hotel social media marketing and other marketing, you’ll also begin to see these efforts pay off, and your rate of direct bookings will naturally increase.
However, if you don’t invest in organic and inorganic marketing for your website, the percentage of bookings coming from OTAs may remain high.
Encouraging Direct Bookings
In order to co-exist with OTAs, it’s important to focus your energy on encouraging and increasing direct bookings. There are a number of ways to do this.
The most important thing that you can do is to build a website that is polished, professional, and attractive. When potential guests arrive on your website, you want to make sure that they’re instantly drawn in. Investing in stunning professional photography and hotel video marketing can help you to make a great first impression on your site. The goal is to tell a story; what kind of experience can your guests expect to enjoy when they stay on your property?
If you’re seeing a high bounce rate on your website, it’s unlikely that you’ll see your rate of direct bookings increase until you address it. It’s important to get to the root of why guests aren’t sticking around on your site long enough to book a stay, and fix the problem.
Another great way to co-exist with OTAs is to offer incentives when guests book directly. You can’t simply offer a much lower rate when guests book directly with you. On top of this, you’ll also be competing with discounts that OTAs may be able to offer.
But one thing that you can do is to offer additional benefits when guests book directly. For instance, consider offering a free experience, upgrade, or other bonus. If you have an on-site spa or restaurant, you might offer a free appetizer or discount on spa services when guests book directly.
Investing in Repeat Guests
The best hotel and vacation rental guest is the repeat guest. While a guest might book their first stay with you through an OTA, if they have a wonderful experience at your property, they’re likely to go directly to your website the next time they want to book a stay.
Creating amazing experiences for your guests can help to encourage repeat stays. You can also offer discounts, special rates, free room upgrades, or other perks to repeat guests. Inform your guests about these benefits while they are still on your property. Asking them to join a loyalty program is a great way to get their contact information so that you can send them announcements about new features or discounted rates after their stay is over as well.
How a Utah Hotel Marketing Management Company Can Help
As a new property, it takes time to see your rate of direct bookings increase. But creating a stunning website and investing in your marketing from the start can help you set yourself up for future success. If you’re not a new property but are still fighting high rates of OTA bookings, it’s time to take a look at your website and marketing efforts to get to the root of the issue.
Whether you’re a brand new property or an established one, a Utah hotel marketing management company like Vibrant Management can help. Our team can help you get to the root of your website’s problems, or help you build a brand-new, beautiful website from scratch. We can also help you choose the right organic and inorganic marketing efforts for your company.
Check out our services today to learn more about how we can help your property shine.