How To Take Back Control Of OTAs
There is no denying that OTAs are a leading factor of any hotel’s marketing plan, but what often happens is that over time the power is shifted from you utilising OTAs to them using you as just another hotel in their strategy. Using your hotel to get as much commission as they can, there is a way to take back control. The key is re-evaluating your distribution chain and thinking of ways that you yourself can market your hotel in such a way it generates good levels of conversions, without costing you too much to implement.
Here are some of our key factors to help you begin taking back control:
You need to begin by truly understanding where you are at now, a full SEO report is a great way to start. Seeing how effective your website is and how well it ranks on Google, before deciding on some key metrics to calculate further the effectiveness of your website. A good metric, to begin with, is your conversion rate, calculated by dividing your bookings on site by your visits to site. If the conversion rate comes out at lower than 5% then you have a lot of work to do. To finalise your audit, you should look at where your traffic is coming from. Re you attracting traffic from sources that you mean to be, or is there one that is attracting a lot of traffic without you trying? This could be a source to make note of for the future.
A key step that many fail to complete, is ensuring that their owned website is as easy to use as possible. Ensuring all relevant information and features matching that of those offered by OTAs. Whilst OTAs may be able to offer better pricing, you can look to compete with this by offering included extras that mean your offering is better value for money. Another clever way to match OTAs, is to include a piece of code that will show a hotel price check. Showing a comparison makes your website match the usefulness of OTAs and can also help to show how you are offering a better package or price.
3. Get Strategic
Having maximised the usability of your website, it’s time to start boosting the amount of traffic that it is receiving. Paid for ads on social media, specifically Facebook, can be a great way to achieve this. However, this shouldn’t be the only tactic within your strategy. Using Google Ads, along with monthly checks and tweaks of your websites SEO are other key ways. As well as email marketing and mixing in some traditional forms, such as PR events and other methods of really building beneficial relationships with stakeholders.
Previously alluded to within the context of SEO, all of your tactics within your strategy need measurement methods. Crucial to inform you for future decision making, choosing the right KPIs and metrics are important for this step. ROI is a great metric to see which tactics are generating the most profitable outcome for you. There are others that can be put in place, it is important to remember that this stage dictates to you what needs changing and what may need scrapping from your strategy. It is common for businesses to feel the need to have every social media channel available, without actually formulating ways to use each individually. If for example Instagram is receiving mass followings and generating high levels of traffic to the website, then this should be your focus. However, other channels that may not be doing as well can be tweaked and also focussed on for a month or more to see if different ways of using them can boost their success. Following this, if no improvement is evidenced it is ok to cut them from your marketing strategy.
Hopefully, these steps have allowed you some clarity on how to begin taking back control from the OTAs, it is important to remember that whilst they can grasp the wheel of your business. If used strategically they can still be a benefit, however, for many businesses these steps are a lot of work for their team. We here at Dirty Martini can offer you a bespoke package to help you implement the steps above and more, ensuring that your business is shining on any platform that it can be found.
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