There’s no getting away from it - if you mention the acronym ‘OTA’ to most hoteliers, they’ll either wince, roll their eyes or suggest the conversation heads elsewhere.
The fact remains, however, that 76% of UK consumers booked their holidays online during 2016. That’s a huge number of people heading to the web in order to find hotel accommodation, and there’s a high chance the first website they land on will be an online travel agency.
This blog assumes you understand the value of an OTA listing for your hotel but haven’t taken the time to maximise the effectiveness of your profile.
Thankfully, optimising your hotel’s presence on the major OTAs is relatively straightforward and can be summed up in four steps any hotelier can undertake:
1. Think SEO
Effective search engine optimisation (SEO) ensures your website can be easily found on Google by the visitors you would consider valuable. The same goes for hotel listings on OTAs; to be found by the right type of guest, you need to employ some SEO tactics.
All OTAs feature some form of ranking system and most will give you plenty of advice on how to ensure your hotel climbs the search result pages. Pay attention to these instructions, and follow SEO best practises.
In the main, that means utilising plenty of keywords, but there’s a lot more you can do, too. We’d recommend a quick hunt through the Moz blog for inspiration. Although it gets a bit techy at times, their advice is invaluable.
2. Use only the best, highest-resolution images
To be honest, we could leave this tip at that, but it’s worth reiterating; don’t use photos of your hotel and its rooms that you’ve taken with your iPhone (no matter how many times Apple tells you it’s the ‘only camera you need’). Get in a pro snapper in to take photos of your property that show it off in its best possible light.
Lastly, if the OTA allows you to include videos on your profile - get someone in to produce an introductory piece for your hotel. Why? Because studies show that videos on website landing pages increase conversion rates by a whopping 80%!
3. Make friends with your OTA marketing manager
You know the person who rings you every so often to talk about your OTA listing? The one you always turn away because you’re too busy?
Yeah… we’re sorry to say you need to make friends with that person.
And, no, you’ll be glad to hear that doesn’t involve taking them out for a pint or inviting them to your first born’s christening - just a desire to hear them out whenever they get in touch.
You needn’t worry, either, because your marketing manager will no doubt be very nice indeed and their job is to help you get the most out of your presence on the OTA.
Remember: you’re paying the company for whom this person works significantly to do a job for you - so let them do it!
4. Finish off that profile… go on!
Think about the number of times you’ve searched for accommodation for your own getaway only to be frustrated by the number of hotels that have incomplete profiles on travel agency websites.
Annoying, isn’t it?
Don’t be that hotel. Make the last task for today that of fully completing your OTA profiles, right down to the very last field.
Getting your hotel up and running on an OTA isn’t a ‘fire-and-forget’ routine; it’s something you need to spend a great deal of time on initially, and then continue to update as your business grows.
Many people will head for your hotel’s own website after finding the property on an OTA. It’s therefore vital that you make the best possible first impression if you’re to gain that direct booking via you own online booking system.