How Your Small Hotel Can Compete With an OTA’s Acquisition Budget

As an independent hotelier who operates an intimate and quaint property, it might sometimes feel like it’s you against the corporate world of travel industry giants.

Online travel agents, or OTAs, are some of the biggest players in the travel industry worldwide. These massive businesses provide consumers with all of the information they need about vacation deals and packages in one convenient location, and it’s overwhelming to think of competing against them.

Their marketing budget is larger than yours, they have professionals dedicated to raising brand awareness, and they are the sites that travelers think of when they want to plan a trip.

The key here is to stop thinking about OTAs as the competition. Instead, think of them as a valuable partner in attracting motivated travelers to your property.

After all, OTAs give you significant perks…

Use OTAs to get found in general

Improve your overall reach to travelers from across the globe through OTAs. Even if your hotel has implemented the best SEO strategy, it likely won’t push your rankings above OTAs.

OTAs are a powerful force in the travel industry, and they are widely recognized by consumers as a reliable source during the research phase of their booking journey.
Through an OTA partnership, you can reach far more travelers than you would on your own.

Use OTAs to reach niche audiences

You can use OTAs to gain access to niche travel audiences that you would not otherwise discover on your own.

Special interest groups are likely to use OTAs because they can search for available properties that are offering great deals during the times that they want to travel.

While these groups may not know to search for your small hotel on their own, they may discover your property through their OTA search.

But don’t be overly reliant

Balance your reliance on OTAs with a powerful and effective direct booking strategy.

Remember to not become solely dependent on OTAs, as these bookings cost you a significant amount in commissions. Direct bookings allow you to maximize your revenue per customer.

Invest in direct booking strategies

Optimize your website

Your website needs to have relevant and accurate content, as well as plenty of high-resolution photographs.
Make it simple and easy for guests to book a room on your website. Also, make sure that you use responsive web design that gives mobile users the opportunity to browse and book from their preferred devices.

Accept online bookings

Use a booking engine to accept direct bookings from your own website. Your booking engine should have online payment capability as well as provide a seamless process for your guests.

Take advantage of metasearch engines

Use metasearch engines to drive traffic to your website. Sites such as Trivago and Kayak provide travelers with valuable information about many different hotels in one convenient spot.

By partnering with metasearch engines, you can broadcast your rates and availability in order to direct guests to your site to complete their booking.

Invest in guest loyalty programs

Re-engage past guests

Reduce your cost of acquisition by booking past guests. You can design promotions that offer guests a discount if they book a subsequent stay at your small hotel within a specific period of time, such as 6 months or 1 year.

Incentivize referrals

Develop referral programs to encourage your guests to recommend your property.

When you use past guests to acquire new ones, you increase your revenue per customer significantly.

A referral program can reward both the past guest as well as their family members and friends, and can be quite effective when it comes to improving your brand recognition.

Verdict? OTAs should be included as one component of your overall distribution strategy. You can easily partner with them when you have an innovative channel manager that broadcasts your live availability and rates to all of your channels. Learn more about how to play the online channels like a pro, with our free eBook:

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