As of 2019, more than half of hotel bookings came from online travel agents (OTAs) like Expedia and Booking.com. Ouch. That’s a lot of commission fees.
NB: This is an article from WebRezPro
Fortunately, that’s also a lot of visibility. It’s like window shopping. Guests browse hotels on OTAs, but they can be enticed onto your property’s own website through an appealing listing and persuaded to stay with deals and personalized value-adds. You can turn OTA shoppers into loyal guests who return to book directly with you. Here’s how.
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Polish Your OTA Profiles
Your OTA profile convinces people to stop on your listing and/or find your website. It’s at the top of your marketing funnel, so it needs to look nice. Think about it. You wouldn’t go into a store with a cracked mannequin and a pile of stained clothing in the window, would you?
For many of your guests, your OTA listing is the first impression they get of your property, so make it a good one. Guests can’t become repeat guests if they never book in the first place.
Fill out all available fields, use plenty of high-quality photos, and keep your information up to date. Your property management system should integrate with your OTA channels, so pricing and availability changes are automatically reflected online. This ensures you’re always offering the most advantageous rates and prevents overbooking. Guests never like hearing there’s no room at the inn, especially after they’ve paid for a room at the inn.
If OTA shoppers like what they see, many of them will google your website to explore your property further.
Optimize Your Website
Once you have potential guests on your website, you need to keep them there. Your site needs to be clear, easy to use, and visually appealing.
Make sure your site is mobile friendly. As of 2019, forty-two percent of guests around the world had reserved a hotel using their mobile device. Mobile friendly means responsive design, which automatically adapts your website to the device it’s opened on.
Include an accessibility widget with options to adjust text size, spacing, contrast, etc., for those who are visually impaired. Not only will this attract more guests, but making your website accessible is the law under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Leverage reviews on your site. Eighty-one percent of guests usually—or always—read hotel reviews before booking, so make your reviews easy to find by adding them to your homepage.
Lastly, promote your website around your property and on social media. Guests can’t book directly with you if they can’t find you.
Offer Direct Online Bookings
Guests are more likely to book direct if they don’t have to call the front desk to do it. Make sure your website includes an online booking engine that is clearly marked, simple to use, and matches your brand.
It helps to choose a contrast color for your booking engine button so that guests can see it easily, as in our recent design for Forest Home Cabins where the reddish brown stands out from the green (and achieves a harmonious color scheme). Don’t include unnecessary steps in the booking process. Guests will abandon a booking if it takes too long.
It’s also important to ensure that your booking engine and website are secure with a valid SSL certificate, a secure https connection, and PCI-compliant payment gateway integration. Nothing turns off a guest faster than potential identity theft.