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How to compete with online travel agents

One of the biggest challenges for the hotel and travel sector has been the rapid growth of online travel agents (OTAs).  One of the biggest challenges for the hotel and travel sector has been the rapid growth of online travel agents (OTAs).

They’re some of the biggest players in the travel industry worldwide, dominate the landscape of online bookings, and provide consumers with all the information they need about holiday packages and deals in one convenient location.  

Large marketing budgets and professional teams mean OTAs have established sophisticated and accessible websites and have built excellent brand presence with search engines.  

Competing may feel daunting, but there are various tactics that can help you side-step the OTAs and generate direct bookings.

Here are some ideas to get you going.

Have a fantastic website. Whether potential customers arrive to your website directly or via an OTA, make sure it counts! It’s important to ensure that your website follows a logical order with ‘book now’ buttons and clear calls to action. 

Customers are curious and will want to know what your story is and what sets you apart from the competition, so well-written content and great quality, compelling photos are vital. Show clear, attractive photos of rooms, communal areas, restaurants and other amenities. 

Most importantly, make sure your website looks professional, credible and trustworthy. After all, you don’t want to give your potential customers an excuse to leave your website and go to an OTA! 

Make it easy to book. Make sure your website booking system is simple to use, as fast as any OTA in the hotel industry, and works across all devices, especially mobile. It must be obvious where to click next, with the whole process being just three to four clicks maximum; and remember to send them a confirmation email thanking them for their booking.

Get seen! It’s one thing having a great website, but it’s no good if it’s not easily found. Getting the basics in place, with strong search engine optimization (SEO), keywords, and meta tags is a good starting point. Regularly creating and sharing relevant blogs with strong calls to action is also a great way to to give your business a voice and will give you plenty of content to share on your social media platforms and drive traffic to your website.

Be engaging. Encourage customer reviews. A good testimonial has the power to overcome scepticism and convince others that your hotel is worth trying out. Make sure you respond to positive and negative reviews alike – a response is always better than silence!

Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to increasing your direct bookings while enhancing your brand and building a loyal customer base. 

To learn more about strategies to drive direct bookings ask us about our Revenue Management Training. 

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