24 Apr 2013
While hotels are actively collaborating with online travel agencies (OTAs) for business, they are often forced to pay large commissions and adhere to conditions set by OTAs. With customers increasingly engaging the services of OTAs to plan their travel arrangements, you may find yourself in a catch 22 situation. The solution as well as challenge is convincing customers to favor your website for bookings over OTAs. The good news is, there are some ways around it. Here are a few techniques you can use to limit your use of OTAs or completely eliminate them from the picture.
1. Special benefits
Special offers and targeted benefits can encourage users to book directly on your website. You can provide value-added corporate bookings, discounted holiday offers and other incentives. Always make sure you explain to customers that your special rates and offers are applicable only when they book directly. In this case, you have a competitive advantage as OTAs face limitations when advertising their offers.
2. Seasonal use of OTAs
You can partner with OTAs on short-term contracts. For instance, you could completely stop OTA bookings during peak seasons when the demand is high, and rely on them during the slower months. During in-demand seasons, you can bank on customers to find you through your website or leverage any other hospitality solution to locate you. To improve your visibility online, you can invest in search engine optimization and social media marketing techniques.
3. Mobile apps for hotels
In a day and age when consumers are accessing information on-the-go, it makes sense to have a unique mobile app for your hotel. You can use this app to encourage your customers to make reservations, get information about special offers and stay abreast of your news. Over a period of time, your app would become self sufficient while you drive quality traffic to your website. A leading e-concierge and e-menu provider for the hospitality industry such as Blynk can provide you effective marketing solutions to attract direct bookings.
OTAs may no doubt be a popular choice but that doesn’t mean you cannot play your hand. Smart planning and execution can help you get your customers back in a real and meaningful way.