Although all hotels aim to achieve their bookings directly through their own websites, aggregator sites or online travel agents such as Booking.com, Trivago and Expedia have undoubtedly become increasingly important in recent years. They’re popular with consumers because they bring together lists of accommodation organised by stipulated criteria – often price – and allow for easy comparison between similar properties, making bookings quick and easy.
As a result, many hospitality marketing agency or owners are striving to get their properties listed there and avoid being left behind by their competitors. But how can hotels ensure they stand out on those lists and are therefore more likely to attract reservations? Here are a few tips on boosting visibility. The early bird catches the worm Many travellers book their trips well in advance, so cater for them by uploading your room rates and availability at least 12 months into the future. This way, you’ll provide something your competitors aren’t doing and hopefully increase revenues.
In addition, putting up more rooms is looked upon favourably by the algorithms of websites like Booking.com, thereby improving rankings and visibility automatically. Use plenty of information You might think you haven’t got much room in the description boxes for your property on aggregator sites but this doesn’t mean you should see them as an afterthought and hardly bother with the text. Actually, many penalise properties that don’t have a comprehensive description about their services and this results in them appearing much further down the results lists than might otherwise be the case. To avoid this, include clear, concise bullet points about what your hotel offers and ensure they apply directly to your target audience in order to attract the most bookings. Make good use of pictures Although pictures of hotels will only appear as thumbnails on aggregator sites until would-be guests click through, they should still be carefully considered during the uploading process. Images should be as clear as possible and at the correct resolution so they don’t appear blurred.
After the click-through, there should be another set of photos that adequately demonstrate all of the hotel’s plus points to customers – try to tell a story through them. Poor images can be penalised by travel aggregators and many now employ staff to go through posts flagging them up for removal, so don’t risk this for your property. Remove restrictions At times when room occupancy rates are typically low, you might want to consider reducing restrictions as a way of attracting more guests and therefore clawing back valuable revenue. This might include cutting out single occupancy charges, for example, thereby appealing to single travellers.
However, it might be a double-edged sword because it can result in less reliable bookings and therefore potentially more cancellations – consider the prospect carefully on balance to see if it is right for your hotel. Are OTAs right for you?All of the above tips should help you to boost your visibility on aggregator sites and this could help you to raise your profile among your target audience. However, it is worth remembering that OTAs do charge commission fees because they act as a middle man between your hotel and your guests. This will need to be factored in to your marketing budget. If it is a huge amount, you might need to ask yourself if a presence on such sites is worth the fee, particularly if you are a small, independent hotel. Always keep an eye on your profits and if they are declining, perhaps consider taking yourself off OTAs for a while and using other channels to get noticed.
Booking.com, Trivago and their ilk can be advantageous, but they need to be used in the right way if they are to boost revenues for hoteliers.