The struggle continues as many hotels look to reduce reliance on Online Travel Agencies and increase direct bookings. This may seem daunting, but in reality there are many ways to win back some of the revenue lost to OTAs. One small improvement or differentiating factor might not make the case, but when many small adjustments are made the impact altogether can be great. Social media is a great medium with which to start in order to gain more bookings directly on your hotel’s website. Your hotel has control over your social media pages, so it’s important to take advantage of this marketing medium.
One impactful channel that is still gaining in popularity and importance is Google+. While it may not seem to be the most relevant social network currently, it’s imperative for hotels to join the network and optimize their pages. Listings and postings from Google+ influence Google rankings and this of course can impact how people find and book with your hotel. The following are a few key elements for optimizing your Google+ page effectively:
- Make sure to complete the business information listing for your page. Use keywords to describe your property, but remember not to stuff them in irrelevantly. The Google+ Dashboard will show what the “Top Searches” are that take users to your page. Using some of these keywords creatively in your posts will help drive users to your Google+ page as opposed to your hotel’s page on an OTA.
- Post enticing content from your hotel’s blog or website to your Google+ page. This will help take users from your social page directly to your website. Use hashtags to ensure searchers will find you!
- Join communities to help stir conversation. Position your hotel as experts in your local area!
- Create special offers that provide something worthwhile. With rate parity, hotels cannot offer lower booking prices on their own websites when compared to the prices on OTAs, but hotels can put together special offers packages that will entice guests to book directly with them instead of through a third-party player. Post about these special offers on your Google+ page!
Google+ is a great tool to utilize and when part of a bigger social media and online marketing strategy, can be very effective. What other tips can you offer for using social media to mitigate dependence on OTAs?