Questions hoteliers should ask their OTA representatives | hotel booking systems

Online travel agencies (OTAs) provide a valuable source of new bookings for hotels.

But that comes at a cost; for some, a cost that’s rather hard to swallow.

Your OTA relationships are some of the most important you’ll have as an independent hotelier. Thankfully, most come with a representative with whom you can have regular catch-ups to ensure you’re getting the most from your listing.

When your next OTA rep meeting is due, here are a few tips on what to ask.

How will my hotel’s information be displayed?

hotel industry tips: what to ask your OTA rep | hotel upselling

Most OTAs let you add images and descriptions, but, sometimes, the latter isn’t down to you.

Some OTAs will take a tourism business description and use that, instead. Try and find out how much control you have over editing the description - after all, it’s the first introduction to your hotel for many guests.

What types of rate are allowed?

manage hotel rates on OTAs | hotel software uk

OTAs have different rules about rates and what is and isn’t allowed. Find out from your rep exactly which types of rate you can synchronise between your property management system and their platform.

Quiz them on the following:

  • best available rates;
  • package rates;
  • late cancellation rates;
  • advanced purchase; and
  • add on services such as dinner and other experiences.

Are there any paid marketing opportunities?

Questions hoteliers should ask their OTA representatives | hotel management systems uk

If the OTA rep is doing their job effectively, you should already have heard about this, but in case not, ask if there are any options for paid marketing.

Some OTAs will give hotels the ability to better position themselves within search results by paying additional fees. It’s a bit like Google Ads, only for OTA listings.

What markets will my hotel be exposed to?

what markets are hotels exposed to | hotel booking systems

Most OTAs are focused on specific markets; they’ll have ideal audiences and guest types to whom they target the lion’s share of their advertising.

Try and find out which markets your OTAs are strongest in and whether or not your hotel is missing out on opportunities in markets in which you’re not yet listed.

Are there referral opportunities?

Questions hoteliers should ask their OTA representatives | hotel upselling

Although a relatively new concept on some OTAs, referrals are fast becoming a great way for hotels to build relationships with local businesses.

Your OTA might offer the ability for your hotel to recommend local attractions, places to eat or events to attend during the booking process. Ask if this is an option and, if so, how you can take advantage of it.

What reporting tools are available?

reporting tools with OTAs for hotels | hotel upselling

Although you’ll hopefully be benefiting from lots of great reporting in your channel manager, the OTA itself should offer some key insight from behind the scenes.

Ask the rep what kind of reporting tools the OTA offers via the platform. It might include competitor reporting, revenue stats, rate type performance and more - but you won’t know unless you ask.

Is there a loyalty programme for customers?

loyalty programme for hotel customers on OTAs | hotel software uk

Even if you run your own loyalty scheme, many OTAs will have their own membership options for guests.

These will provide offers, exclusive deals and other loyalty tricks which may encourage a few more regular bookers for your hotel.

Wrapping up

It’s time to take responsibility for your OTA listings. Our guiding questions above will help you get the most from the OTAs you work with, but don’t be afraid to dig deeper.

If you’ve got a burning question on your mind about an OTA relationship - ask it. Remember, the OTA reps are there to help you, and it’s another example of where your commission payments go.

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Welcome Anywhere has over 30 years of experience in helping independent hoteliers deliver guests an unforgettable experience with its simple property management system that controls your daily activities. The best part -  it’s all cloud hosted! We develop scalable solutions for your property such as PMS, a Booking Engine and Channel Manager. Our team has a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry and we serve you to better serve your guests.

Call us today at + 44 (0) 33 0100 1090, or email us at sales@welcomeanywhere.com. We will be happy to walk you through Welcome Anywhere’s all-in-one solution for your property management needs.

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4 things hoteliers can do to increase direct bookings | hotel booking systems

If there’s one question hoteliers ask themselves every day, it’s: “how can I increase direct bookings?”.

And that’s understandable because ‘beating’ the online travel agents (OTAs) feels like an impossible task…

…until you realise that it isn’t really a battle.

Seriously - in order to gain more direct bookings as a hotelier, you need to view this industry as a level playing field, because in the digital age, that’s exactly what it is.

In today’s blog, we’re going to look at four things you can do today to increase direct bookings at your hotel (and none of the tips below involves getting into a backstreet brawl with an OTA):

1. Get into digital marketing

digital marketing tip for hotels | increase direct bookings

Isn’t all marketing in the digital age, er… digital?

Nope!

In fact, the hospitality industry remains one of the few that still relies on old-fashioned methods of brand promotion thanks to the prevalence of printed brochures and direct mail campaigns.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that stuff, but it needs to run alongside a concerted digital marketing effort if you’re to be found online.

Here are a few ways you can up your digital marketing game, relatively easily:

  • optimise your website for keywords relating to the type of hotel you run, its various services and location (this is known as ‘SEO’ - speak to your web people if you’re unsure how to approach it);
  • start a blog and write regularly about the hotel, its events and topics that relate to the area in which it’s situated;
  • use your social media presence - don’t just let it sit there unloved; a post or two a day advertising your latest rates or showing off photos of your rooms and grounds will work wonders;
  • give Google Adwords a try - it isn’t the money pit some will tell you it is.

The above list is certainly non-exhaustive, but it’s a start, and if you make good on your promise to keep on top of each task, you’ll gradually start to see results in terms of increased visitors to your website and - all being well - increase direct bookings.

2. Respond to - and share - guest reviews

hotel industry tip | hotel software uk

Ah - reviews. Well, we were going to mention this sooner or later, weren’t we?

Guest reviews can make or break hotels - but not in the way you’re perhaps thinking.

Receive a bad review? Respond to it; demonstrate that you’re listening and care deeply about your business and the service you provide guests.

Receive a great review? Share it! Tell the world via social media and a testimonials page on your website.

By proactively dealing with guest reviews, you’ll become the master of them, and the more active you are with such guest correspondence, the more chance you have of diverting people to your own website rather than an OTA.

3. Give guests a reason to part with their money

bespoke hotel packages | increase direct bookings

Getting people to your hotel website is only half the battle. Once they arrive, they need to be given a compelling reason to book direct.

Try creating bespoke packages that are only applicable to people who are willing to book direct. Avoid rate parity issues by retaining the same OTA rate but instead include something on top that is of high value to the guest but relatively low cost to you (a breakfast upgrade, for example).

If you avoid the opportunity to give potential guests a good deal immediately, they’ll quickly head elsewhere.

4. Implement a killer online booking system and payment gateway

online booking system hotels

Potential guests need two things to convince them that booking direct is the thing to do:

  1. Ease of booking.
  2. Reassurance.

Number 1 simply means you need a great online booking system that enables people to make bookings in just a few short steps. Number 2 requires a recognisable payment gateway (e.g. PayPal) and a crystal-clear booking policy. Both will be bolstered considerably with a PMS that connects directly to your website's hotel booking systems.

Make your deposit, cancellation and no-show policy ultra-clear and ensure guests are forced to agree to your terms before booking.

The more transparent your booking process, the more people will use it - it’s that simple.

Wrapping up

Have we missed anything?

If you’re an independent hotelier and have experienced a significant uplift in direct bookings, tell us your experiences below. It doesn’t hurt to share your successes with the world once in a while!

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Welcome Anywhere has over 30 years of experience in helping independent hoteliers deliver guests an unforgettable experience with its simple property management system that controls your daily activities. The best part -  it’s all cloud hosted! We develop scalable solutions for your property such as PMS, a Booking Engine and Channel Manager. Our team has a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry and we serve you to better serve your guests.

 

Call us today at + 44 (0) 33 0100 1090, or email us at sales@welcomeanywhere.com. We will be happy to walk you through Welcome Anywhere’s all-in-one solution for your property management needs.

Read More