Are you paying more commissions to online travel agents (OTAs) than you should?
Many hotels are. In fact, increasing direct bookings is the #1 request I get from hotel owners and operators. It’s why the mission of this site is to “show hotels how to use the internet to increase direct bookings.”
If travel websites are helping fill rooms with guests that wouldn’t have booked otherwise, that’s one thing. It’s quite another if you’re paying unneeded commissions for bookings that could have been made through your own website.
Here are three common ways I see 3rd-party sites stealing direct bookings from hotels:
1) They bid on your hotel name for cheap clicks
On search engine PPC networks, your hotel name is often just a few cents per click. At prices this low, I’m amazed when hotels pass up this opportunity and allow OTAs to bid on their own name.
How you can beat them: Include your hotel name as a keyword in your PPC campaign
2) They outrank sloppy search optimization
Some hotels have websites that are so poorly optimized, that they don’t even appear at the top of search results for their own name!
Savvy OTAs can come in and rob hotels of all these easy pickings and get lots of free traffic.
How you can beat them: Implement a smart search optimization strategy for your website
3) They attract searches for ‘reviews’
Keyword research reveals one of the most common search query structures is: keyword + “review.”
The reason is simple: people want other opinions before making a purchase. Based on this logic, sites like TripAdvisor nearly always outrank a hotel’s website for review searches.
How you can beat them: Publish your own page of 3rd-party reviews…and promote it.
Sometimes, they’re just a lot more savvy about online marketing
Recent industry studies revealed that Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline and Orbitz rely heavily on the hotel industry for the bulk of their profits. Since airlines do not pay commissions on tickets sold, the hotel industry contributes more than 60% to booking fees collected by OTAs.
So these companies will fight hard with every trick available to encourage bookings through them.
What if you budgeted the current amount you spend on OTA commissions to build an online marketing campaign that drove direct bookings? This strategy would quickly pay for itself, and reap dividends over the long term.
Are OTAs stealing bookings from your hotel website?