Online Travel Agents (OTAs)are the big travel websites like Expedia, Booking.com, Wotif and Agoda. They traditionally focused on selling big 4, and 5 star rated hotels and resorts. However, they are all now placing increasing emphasis on small boutique accommodation options outside the CBD and particularly holiday homes. Over the last 5years, they are increasingly playing a key role in holiday home bookings, helping holiday home owners market their properties and making it easier for travellers to find and book unique holiday accommodation.
That’s why effective listings on OTAs are essential to a holiday home owner’s online distribution strategy. Collectively, they’re the most used channel for online holiday accommodation bookings.
The billboard effect
The billboard effect refers to capturing direct bookings which originated from a customer’s search of either a destination or other property listed on an OTA website or destination site or other booking sites.
You should try to maximise the Billboard Effect by listing on as many travel sites as possible including but not limited to the big OTAs and be active in social media where the same effect occurs. Aside from the bookings they generate these channels also inadvertently help by directing searchers to your holiday home website.
That’s why it’s very advantageous to signup to OTA websites to get extra traffic. But if your listing is lacklustre, with poor images and not enough information or uninspiring descriptions, you simply won’t drive the volume of direct bookings that you should.
Here are some tactics all small accommodation providers can use to scale the OTA ranks;
Build customer reviews
Small properties don’t have the luxury of a big brand name reputation. So you have to build your reputation through positive reviews to boost OTA ranking and the increased bookings that flow.
Here are a few simple facts; travellers want to hear feedback from others who have experienced your product; holiday home rentals with no reviews or poor reviews will get fewer bookings; positive reviews, even if they’re just a short few words, boost traveller’s trust and motivate booking.
Update your content
OTAsconsider your complete profile when establishing rankings. They rank properties with complete and current profiles more highly because travellers are more likely to book them. So your property profile needs to be as complete and up to date as possible.
Updating the pictures, adding relevant details, and answering predictable customer questions can all have an impact that will increase your ranking and hence booking rate.
OTAs allow searchers to filter by amenities categories like ‘Wi-Fi’ and ‘parking’. According to TripAdvisor, the amenities which are most influential when booking accommodation include:
- Free Wi-Fi – 74%
- Free breakfast – 60%
- Amenities – 58%
Make sure you include all the amenities at your property so you’ll pop up when searchers filter for the amenities that are important to them.
If your property is not listed with the major OTAs, you’re sacrificing revenue.
The benefit is the awareness you gain from the channel displaying your property, but bookings made through OTAscome with fees of distribution commission.
Though you may not like paying commissions for bookings, vacancies are worse.Savvy holiday home owners understand that commissions are actually a fair way of rewarding channels for what they invest in capturing customers and getting them to book. What can be fairer than where you only pay if and when you get a booking!
An online booking system to appear on all OTAs
Through an all-in-one online booking system like Rezobx you can connect to multiple OTAs, maximising your online exposure, generating a billboard effect and without having to worry about double bookings.
You can choose to list your holiday home, B&B, or small hotel on Booking.com, Wotif, Expedia, Agoda, TripAdvisor, HomeAway, and numerous local and regional channels. With Rezobx, your reservations are automatically managed for live bookings at all times on over 200 channels.
An integrated and fully functional online booking system reduces the additional costs of a support team and gives you the following features;
- Cloud-based access to the online booking system and property management tool means you can use any device including a desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, or tablet.
- As soon as a customer makes a reservation online, availability is updated instantly and automatically on every website that promotes your business.
- Minimise the time and energy you spend managing your property or activity through sophisticated automation.
- An intuitive booking process ensures that every customer can easily view availability and book and pay to confirm.
- Allows customers to make bookings at any time, from anywhere.
- Booking pages can be customised effortlessly with Rezobx.
- Unique live inventory exchange model blocks availability as soon as it’s booked to protect against double bookings.
- Secure and automated payment process
Connect your accommodation to the world’s leading booking sites. Start your free trial of Rezobx now.