Here are four key do’s and don’ts independent hotels should consider when working with their online travel agency (OTA) partners and leveraging their digital reach to drive bookings and revenue:
DO read guest feedback/ratings and take action
Independents who claim their OTAs “don’t work” should look at their online feedback and ratings to see if they’re the root of the problem. Travelers take OTA feedback and ratings into consideration during booking, so while they might not be the main reason why travelers book, they can definitely disqualify hotels from consideration. In addition to responding, operators should use OTA feedback to correct issues noted by past guests. Addressing issues immediately will eliminate future negative reviews and additional reasons why OTAs “don’t work” for some hotels.
DON’T ignore the details
As noted, travelers use OTAs to streamline the reservations process, so the appearance of hotel profiles is critical. Hoteliers must ensure all property photos and descriptions, local information, maps, etc. are accurate, so they entice travelers to book rather than push them away. OTAs help drive booking opportunities and revenue for hotels, so independents cannot afford to ignore the details that truly matter.
DO pay attention to competitors
Competition is one of the main drivers behind the success of OTAs. The stronger the offers that hotels provide, the more value OTAs can deliver to travelers. Independents must monitor the OTA listings of their competitors to ensure that they’re well-positioned to capitalize on as many bookings and revenue opportunities as possible.
DON’T underestimate traveler value
The hot/cold relationship between independent hotels and OTAs often revolves around money – hotels feel that they pay too much and OTAs believe they’re worth every cent. What gets left out of this discussion is the value their relationship delivers to travelers. Travelers like OTAs because they’re easy to use, allow for comparison and one-stop shopping and appear to offer great pricing. So while independent hotels and OTAs work out their differences with each other, it’s important that they continue to consistently deliver the value that travelers expect and deserve.