As a hotel professional, how do you feel about online travel agencies (OTAs)? Are you tired of the unfair pricing structure? Well, you’re not alone! Today, most hoteliers think that the commission rates demanded by the OTAs are unjust and are fighting back!
When it comes to distribution, online travel agencies should be part of a strategy, but not the entire plan for independents and branded hotels alike. -Source: HotelNewsNow
OTAs have undeniably booked a lot of rooms for hotels! Hotels have had short term marketing benefits from using OTAs. However, most hoteliers have realized the long term impact of OTAs on their businesses. The long term impact of online travel sites is high commission costs and loss of guests’ loyalty. Now, hoteliers are fighting back in hopes of shifting power back to the hotel, winning back the relationship of guests, and reducing marketing cost!
What hoteliers are doing to regain control:
1. Demanding a fair pricing structure
Many hoteliers believe it is time for a new pay structure to come into play. Inarguably, the online travel agencies deserve to be paid for bringing additional business to hotels. But, hotels shouldn’t depend too much on OTAs to bring in business they could get themselves directly. Keep in mind that many different channels can bring your hotel business. A hotel’s website is by far the most effective channel when it is optimized for various devices. Don’t forget how much influence you can have over travelers via social media and TripAdvisor – take advantage of all opportunities you have to communicate messages with your guests and potential guests.
2. Improving their websites and booking process on site
This means having an easy booking process on the hotel’s website. Make it easy and convenient for travelers to book on your site. It’s surprising how many independent hotel sites fail to provide an easy booking process on their website. Most independent hotel sites have a booking widget; however, there are too many hotel sites failing to understand the effective placement of booking widgets. It is essential to include the booking widget on all pages of a website – remember, it has to be convenient and easy to find. You never know what page on your site will influence the traveler to book! Also, hoteliers must keep an updated website with professional photos and relevant content. Otherwise, travelers will think your hotel is not as sophisticated as the hotels they can find on OTA sites.
3. Introducing black-out dates
Most people have not heard about black-out dates! Why? Because InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) have been the first to do this – but, will not be the last! Black-out dates are specified days, approved in advance with OTAs, in which rooms can only be sold via a hotel’s website. Would you consider black-out dates?
Nevertheless, hoteliers are getting fed up and utilizing other resources to regain customer relationships and lower costs.
“In our view, we want to own the customer, and the cheapest delivery mechanic we can do that is through our website.” – Niall Kelly of Starwood