Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are a huge competitor for hotels, and with Statista projecting revenue of the online travel booking market to be £17.3 billion by 2023, this competition shows no signs of decreasing. We’ve compiled a list of seven ways how your hotel can compete with OTAs – and increase the chance of your customers looking at your site, rather than your competitor's, giving you the best-possible chance of boosting your travel brand.
People use their phones more than ever now, so optimising your site for mobile is crucial to your hotel staying competitive. The quicker, easier-to-use and more streamlined your booking journey is, the higher chance you have of converting site visitors to customers.
Furthermore, mobile optimisation has the benefit of improving your hotel's ranking on Google search results, as site speed is a factor in its ranking algorithm. Further details on how site speed impacts your site and tools to help you monitor it can be found here, and discover how we can enhance your travel SEO.
In an age where it’s easy to share and contribute content it would be silly not to integrate reviews and user generated content into your site. A survey ran by Tripadvisor found that 96% of people consider reading reviews when considering booking a hotel or holiday, so offering a place for customers to leave a review and photos on your site is important. This means potential customers don’t need to visit OTAs as they can get reviews directly on your site and it offers you another chance to engage with customers – happy or otherwise.
Being visible online isn’t just restricted to search engines like Google or Bing. Get your hotel on metasearch engines like Trivago or Kayak. These types of sites give you a higher chance of being found by a user, can give you an external link, and also drives traffic to your website.
The important thing is to ensure you incentivise users to click through to your website. This can be through a fast, responsive website and/or a price guarantee – users won’t book with you if they can get it cheaper elsewhere. These platforms are great at attracting traffic and offer an opportunity to direct some of that traffic to your site.
As a hotel, capturing contact details about your customers gives you the opportunity to build a relationship with them beyond their stay. Whether you capture their email through free WiFi sign-up, at check-in or check-out, gaining this type of information is crucial to your future marketing relationship with each customer. Marriott is especially good at ensuring they capture guest data through creating accounts when booking to follow up emails like the one below.
This is a reason why OTAs currently have an advantage over hotels, as they are great at capturing customer data then acting upon it with relevant offers – if it works for them, it can work for you.
Once you’ve got the email address of a guest, you need to put it to good use – start tailoring marketing material to open a dialogue. Send a follow-up email asking how their stay was and invite them to leave a review on your site. Schedule follow-up emails with offers and discounts to encourage guests to stay with you again – the acquisition cost is significantly lower with people who have already stayed with you.
Well-crafted email marketing campaigns can lead to further visits from past customers, and also has three times the conversion rate compared to social media, as found by Revinate.
This can work in coordination with your email marketing campaigns, as offering incentives to previous customers to refer family, friends or co-workers to your hotel is a great way of maximising the potential revenue per customer. Imagine that a family stays at your hotel for a holiday, they love it then recommend you to another family. This is the perfect scenario as you are broadening your potential customer base offline – word of mouth is still marketing gold.
This step is tailored to millennials, but still has impact on other segments of your potential customer base. Highlighting the experience of staying at your hotel and the activities that guests can do is great as people are beginning to value experiences more than physical possessions. If your hotel is near a particularly great water-sports school, for example, highlight this on your website. There’ll be plenty of activities near you to suit all types of customers.
A great example of content that highlights the experience a guest will have at a hotel is on Jumeirah Vittaveli's homepage. In the first block of content, it emphasises the array of experiences and activities guests can find at their resort. Although a luxury hotel, this practice of communicating experience to guests is invaluable.
OTAs are large organisations that can pose a threat to hotels, and it isn’t easy remaining competitive, especially if you're an independent. However, with these seven ways to stay competitive, you will be able to take back control of your website, help retain existing guests and be more likely to secure new ones.