How to choose the right OTAs for your hotel?
Reach more travelers at the right time and convince them to book? Online Travel Agencies do the marketing for you and are an essential part of your distribution strategy. Which booking channels should you choose to promote your accomodation?
Hotel and B&B owners are aware that OTAs are necessary nowadays. In order to achieve a maximum occupancy rate, you need to promote your accommodation on Online Travel Agencies.
Moreover, big players like Booking.com and Airbnb have built a strong, reliable brand, which makes travelers trust them. Therefore, a lot of travelers start their search for accommodations right away on these platforms.
But how do you know which OTAs to choose and which ones will help you get more bookings?
Important things to check when choosing the right OTA
1) The right target group?
"Everybody is welcome here" may not always be the best starting point to get the most out of your business. When you attract the right guests, you can address their needs in a better & smarter way. With upselling or cross-selling for instance. A clear example:
You are the owner of a B&B located in a beautiful natural area, known for the wunderfull bike- & hiking trails. When you receive backpackers or nature lovers, you offer an extra bike rental or picnic service. A lot more interesting than business travelers who only stay in their rooms and wouldn't have any interests in your special offers, right?
Once you've defined your target group, you can choose the OTAs that score well with this type of travelers and increase the chance of online bookings.
OTAs control two-thirds of all online bookings.Hospitalitynet.org
2) The right market?
Each OTA is succesful in one or more market segments. Some OTAs are doing very well in the USA, others are more popular with Asian travelers. Even your accommodation type plays an important rol in your choice of OTAs. B&Bs for instance, usually show great results on Airbnb. Do you have a spacious vacation rental, ideal for families? Then you should check out Vrbo (former HomeAway).
3) Commission model?
Another breaking point might be the commission model handled by the OTA. How much does your guests have to pay, taking the commission into account? Are your rates competetive enough? Some OTAs use a fixed commission percentage, with other it depends from the region your accommidation is located in. Take your time to compare en to try things out. It's the only way to discover what's best for your situation.
Some OTAs in the spotlight
This young booking channel grows fast! Airbnb guests are travelling for a variety of reasons (work, family, romantic getaway), so this platform is popular with different types of travelers. B&Bs that welcome "leisure" travelers are usually doing well on Airbnb. It’s an ideal platform to fill up the blanks: about 40% of the trips booked on Airbnb are last-minute bookings.
Agoda is a useful booking channel if you want to be visible for Asian travelers. Its HQ is based in the heart of Asia (Singapore). This OTA has a network of different types of accommodations, such as apartments, homes, villas and hotels. Agoda is part of the Booking Holdings, just like Priceline.com and Kayak.
Booking.com has been around for a while and keeps a high standard for the other OTAs in Europe. It’s the biggest player on the European online travel agency market and is a good match with every type of accommodation, mostly used for "leisure" trips. Just like Priceline.com, Kayak, Agoda and another few players, Booking.com is part of Booking Holdings. Booking.com is the biggest and best performing brand of the group.
Biggest OTA in America, especially North America. It's Expedia's goal to give the traveler a complete experience, so booking plane tickets, making online hotel reservations, renting a car or ordering a cruise ticket, it's al possible on 1 platform. The Expedia Group consists of other Online Travel Agencies like Vrbo and Hotels.com.
Do you wish to use wholesalers to increase your occupancy? Hotelbeds is a distribution platform used by travel agencies, tour operators and airlines to book hotels for their customers. A way to discover a new, successfull market?
Are business travelers part of your target group? Then you should try out HRS as booking channel for your rooms. This OTA pays extra attention to this type of travelers and puts business deals in the spotlight. Might be interesting, considered 60% of business trips are converted in Bleisure (business + leisure).
Trip.com is China's largest online travel agency. Chinese travelers prefer group travel less often. In addition, Europe is a loved destination for long holidays. A booking platform like Trip.com creates diversity in your connectivity which makes you reach all parts of the world. Travelers can book their accommodation, plane tickets and even train tickets on this platform.
Do you own a holiday home that has room for a bunch of people? Then you should check out Vrbo. This booking platform is mostly popular with Families or groups of friends for a long Holiday. But if you show enough flexibility, short-trip travelers and even weekenders could book your accommodation. Vrbo is part of the Expedia Group.
Cubilis Booking Engine
Finally, a good hotel website with booking engine is still crucial!
OTAs are popular and a lot of travelers will complete the booking on these platforms, it's true. But statistics also show that almost 50% of travelers still visit the hotel website, after discovering this accommodation on an OTA, out of curiosity.
The more reservations you receive via your own website, the less commission you have to pay. But to increase your online visibility and to maximise your occupancy, you can use the help of OTAs. A healthy mix is the solution!
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