How independent hotels can reclaim bookings from OTAs


The drive to increase direct bookings has moved into high gear for many hoteliers, with the large global chains and hospitality industry giants leading the charge. Hotels are looking for ways to wean travellers away from booking with OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) in a bid to fight back against the high fees and restrictive terms that these aggregate travel booking agencies impose.

Marriott and Hilton were the first major hotel chains to make a significant bid to reclaim direct bookings. They used every available marketing channel to bring their loyalty club benefits and low direct booking rates to the public’s attention.

How independent hotels can increase direct bookings and reclaim bookings from OTA’s?
Independent and boutique hotels have a golden opportunity to capitalize on the publicity efforts of the larger hotel magnates. Travellers are aware that direct booking can offer considerable advantages, and are eagerly searching for lower booking rates and perks that are not available through the OTAs.

Improve your rankings.
The first step to increasing direct bookings is to make sure travellers can find your website. The OTAs have captured the top spots for many hotel-related search terms on Google and the other search engines, so independent hotels need to put in some extra effort to ensure travellers can find them when searching online.

Trademark to protect your hotel brand.
If you haven’t trademarked your hotel’s brand name, the OTAs can hijack the top spots in searches for your specific hotel name. Once you trademark your hotel name, claim all your online assets, including review sites, to keep third parties from diluting the effectiveness of your online hotel marketing strategies.

Branding SEO strategies.
It’s a good idea to perform an SEO audit to outfit your hotel website with the latest, most relevant keywords.

Get more traffic.
To generate more bookings, you need to steer as many travelers as possible to your website.

Promote through online marketing strategies.
Digital advertising is the ideal low-cost way to publicize the benefits of booking directly with your hotel. Create visually appealing social media postings and ads, write blogs explaining the benefits of direct bookings and enact mobile PPC strategies.

Upgrade to a responsive, mobile-friendly website.
Phocuswright reports that mobile bookings were up 49% in 2015, with US$25.5 billion in bookings made via smartphones and tablets. Switching to a responsive hotel website with a robust booking engine is essential if you want to attract mobile, on-the-go travelers.

Generate more direct bookings.
The final step to generate more direct bookings for your hotel is to offer such value to travelers who book directly that they won’t want to book a stay any other way.

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