Competition with OTAs is something most properties have grown accustomed to, but with drastically different marketing budgets in most cases, it’s important to understand the value behind marketing directly to your guests. Expedia and other OTAs have large marketing and advertising budgets, which help them to develop flashy commercials and find their way to the top of search ranks. Your budget probably doesn’t quite stack up in sheer numbers, but with the right tactics you can compete with the major players at a local level.
Collecting Guest Information
Make sure there are processes in place to collect guest data whether it takes place when they’re already at your property or inquiring on the phone or via email. You can even capture guest information from travelers who have booked through OTAs, as many of these guests will call the property to confirm the reservation/ask any questions they may have. With products like TRACK Pulse, this becomes second nature.
It makes it easy for the voice agent to ask the guest that booked through an OTA for his or her email address. The agent can also enter the information directly into the PMS. -John Smallwood, Travel Outlook
Collecting this information from guests that have already booked is simple using front desk employees to facilitate a conversation. Whether it’s checking in or checking out, your reservationists should take advantage of this time to have your guests sign up for special offers that come direct from your hotel. During this conversation, reservationists can also inform guests that they’ll receive the best rate and best information when booking direct with your business as OTAs do not deliver a direct relationship as you do with your guests.
Content Encourages Engagement
Provide exclusive content that requires an email address to view. An OTA is probably not going to market only your property as they do not receive more revenue for filling your rooms than others. You are the best person/team to market your own business!
Whether this is producing a tourist guide, showcasing user-generated photos, or keeping an up-to-date blog of things going on at your property, think of content pieces that will not only help to increase your search rank, but keep guests interested. This increases their likelihood of subscribing to your emails and spending time on your website as opposed to OTAs.
At the end of the day, OTAs will attempt to market directly to your customers, and it is important for you to be doing the exact same. Don’t be afraid of their massive advertising budgets. You have the ability to create personalized content that your guests want to see and collect emails of guests that are staying or inquiring about your property.
These may seem like small steps along the way, but they will allow you to tailor a more effective marketing campaign and convert more direct bookings. Letting guests know that booking direct is the best choice for their stay should be at the forefront of your marketing campaigns, as keeping your revenue and building guest lists leads to a stronger, more profitable business.