(ARTICLE UPDATED in December, 2020)
Editor’s Note: Originally published in October 2019, this post has been completely updated and refurbished for comprehensiveness, accuracy and relevance.
There is no denying the fact that Hotel Reputation Management is important. While the hoteliers strive towards getting more bookings directly through their website, one cannot overlook the significant impact that the OTAs have on reservations and the overall reputation management of a hotel. There is no doubt that the OTAs have invested a lot in marketing and have been able to expand their reach too far when it comes to hotels and bookings. As the research suggests, about two-thirds of the guests prefer to book through the OTAs. Hence the importance of OTAs in the hotel industry is just unthinkable. For instance, Expedia.com covers up to approximately 28% of the online hotel market share, while Priceline.com and Booking.com have a share of up to 16% and 19% respectively.
To put it simply, OTA is an Online Travel Agency where hotels or all kinds of accommodation providers can list their properties to enhance their visibility to a larger audience. This, in turn, has the potential to drive more hotel bookings. In addition to this, the OTAs help the consumers obtain more information about the property they are booking and allow them to compare different options at one place before making a sound or informed decision. Thus the OTAs sort of act as the one-stop-shop solution for travel shoppers.
Some of the most popular OTAs that the property owners should look out for include:
Things Hoteliers Should Be Aware Of:
Online travel agencies’ commission rates are the charges that an independent property or big brands have to pay to an online travel agency for every booking that arrives via that OTA channel or website. This is an important tool in hotel reputation management. Over the decade, the fees have been steadily increasing from the earlier 10% of commission on bookings. For instance, Expedia charges over 15%-30% of commission from the independent hotels as opposed to the major brands paying 10%-15% commissions. Similarly, Booking.com charges an average rate of 15% as a global commission.
Considering the value that these online travel agencies bring to your hotel and bookings, every hotelier must be updated with the OTA industry trends. Hotels need to tie-up with any of these online platforms and look for ways to enhance their hotel reputation management over the OTAs if they want to drive more traffic to their website. Surely, the success rate depends upon the number of connections you have. But before getting a higher listing on the OTAs and more bookings, it is imperative to focus on how to build your reputation remarkably on the OTA platforms. So, to answer the most frequently asked question “How do I improve my OTA rankings?” the simplest answer would be to first collaborate with the OTAs and enhance your hotel visibility on these platforms.
……………..So You Must Be Thinking How!
Here are the few ways in which the OTAs help build and manage your hotel reputation:
Before starting with online hotel bookings, it is important to make yourself known in the hotel industry. The task of introducing your property to prospective customers can be left without any hesitation on the OTAs. For the users coming to them to book a property, OTAs are extremely beneficial in providing the customers with enough information about your hotel- rooms, amenities, price, location, ratings, reviews, to name a few. Again, it has been observed that about 52% of travelers who view hotels on the OTAs do visit the hotel website. Thus the enhanced visibility engages the customers to book with you and visit your hotel website. This is by far the most significant online travel agencies’ impact on hotels.
Even if your property does not have an elite ranking or listing on the OTAs, the fact that it is on the OTA alone can work wonders. Budget is a major factor behind bookings and most of the time, it may take precedence over the ratings. So even if you are a property having a 3/5 rating on any of the OTAs offering a feasible budget in comparison, the travelers looking in that budget are highly likely to book with you. In short, the OTAs help narrow down the search of the guests by giving them lots of options as per their requirements.
Sometimes, there are cases where the visitors leave only their ratings without actually drafting a review about their stay. So, if you are a professional, you will also pay heed to the only-rating-review and curate a perfect response to that as well, instead of simply taking it for granted.
Generally, it is a tendency on the part of modern travelers to find out what others are saying or thinking about a particular hotel, before confirming their booking status. In this case, you can rely on the OTAs to do the needful with the magic of the reviews.
It is obvious that a higher rating or score on the OTA platforms will help to attract more customers and bookings. Ota hotel management rating or score is the first thing that entices a customer towards a property. For instance, you are likely to lean more towards a property with 4.5 ratings on Tripadvisor as opposed to the one having a rating of 3.5, at least at first glance.
Reviews act as a window to a hotel’s reputation. A user would want to read as many (positive)reviews as possible before coming up with the concrete decision of going ahead with the bookings. 81% of travelers find online hotel reviews important. In fact, 49% will not make a reservation if the hotel has zero reviews. Thus reviews can help tell a lot about the price, location. aesthetic value, ambiance, staff service, etc. of a property. This is extremely important from the point of view of hotel reputation management.
• Great, high-end photographs of the property supported by a spot-on description including the amenities would be an excellent way to make your presence on the OTAs impressive.
• Location plays a major role in influencing the customer’s decision. An exact description of your hotel and the proximity to the major areas of interest can do the trick. For instance, if your hotel is close to, let’s say Disneyland, do not forget to mention it in your location. Again, the proximity to the center or main area helps define the location accurately to the customers.
• Every professional response that a guest review gets is essential in boosting your online presence.
• Indeed, you cannot appease all your customers. But the way you pay heed to even their negatives by responding to them professionally and giving proper attention to them help turn even the negative into positive. Being polite and clear is the key!
• The OTAs have a wider consumer base and can reach out to a larger audience to market your property
• It can present a user with so many options to choose from and that also in one place.
• It has higher search results when compared to the actual hotel website.
• It has higher conversion rates compared to direct hotel marketing.
• It can aid in fetching more direct bookings.
These are the few ways in which you can increase your bookings and hotel reputation management quotient over the OTAs. But it should be kept in mind that while the OTA bookings are important for your hotel’s reputation management, too much dependence on the OTAs has its downsides. For every booking that you strike with an OTA, the latter charges a heavy commission. Hence try to balance the relationship and keep looking for better ways to increase your bookings directly through the hotel website. How? This article will teach you the needful!
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Refreshingly simple and designed for modern hoteliers, our reputation management solution will help immensely in fine-tuning your reputation over the OTAs. With us, you can increase your review count, attract bookings, and optimize your visibility over the OTAs. See trends, analysis, and professionally respond to reviews on major booking sites and Google that influence customers to book. Influence your customer’s booking decisions with cutting-edge reputation management: get fresh reviews, collect feedback, improve your online scores, analyze reviews, show off your best reviews on your website with a review widget, and respond to your guests’ reviews automatically. In other words, your reputation management is our responsibility:)