STOP COMPETING WITH YOURSELF
RATE PARITY is the key. Many hotels make the mistake of providing packages for OTA without offering the same package in their own website. Offering different packages and rates to OTA and directly on your official website allows guests who may have already decided to stay at your hotel to book at OTA website for the better deal, needlessly costing your hotel a commission fee.
Hotels must effectively and consistently control rate parity across all online distribution channels to increase consumer confidence in booking with the hotel website. A hotel offering the guaranteed lowest rate on the official website will discourage shopping around by potential guests.
LIST YOU HOTEL WITH ALL MAJOR OTAs ( Online Travel Agencies )
In 2012 it was estimated that 2.4 billion people used the Internet to some extent. These users are scattered worldwide and speak one or more of scores of major languages. Most users making travel arrangements online prefer to shop around and tend to visit multiple OTAs, GDS partner websites, social media and review websites in search of the best deal. A hotel must ensure a prominent brand presence in all OTA and travel-related sites to help increase awareness of the hotel name. But be careful in your strategy and remember that you MUST maintain your rate parity with all OTA or you will lose direct business.
BENEFITS OF USING OTA
Billboard effect – There is much evidence that online consumers eventually book on the hotel official website after searching OTA websites. The Billboard Effect can help your hotel brand showing on all OTA channels where online customers do their research –– actually helping to drive them to book in your official website.
Bringing new guests – OTA can help introduce your hotel to new customers. While your official website offer only a few languages, OTA offer information in many languages to promote wider market penetration. This availability of information in many languages can help promote your hotel in new markets, and the new customers can become loyal guests who will recommend your hotel to their friends, who may also book direct.
Helping small hotels – Small hotels with limited marketing budgets can benefit most from OTA services in accessing multiple markets. and connecting to the potential customers worldwide. Even with the higher commission charged to low–volume clients, booking through an OTA can be a cost-effective solution to expanding market share.
START IMPLEMENTING PROPER CRM (Customer relationship management)
In the constantly changing online market, rate parity alone will not keep a hotels competitive edge and retain customers. Large hotels compete for guest loyalty through incentives and cash rewards, expensive programs that are often beyond the capabilities of small-group or independent hotels.
Proper CRM activities help hotel not only to retain customer loyalty but also to encourage onward promotion to friends and colleagues. The rapid growth of social media is exponentially expanding the impact of CRM. Hotels can enhance CRM through:
Automated Campaign & Mailing – Keep in constant touch with your customers with automated emails containing special offer packages, promotion, and birthday/holiday greetings.
Social media maintenance – Social-media marketing is a two-edged sword: the bad experience of one guest can be propagated to thousands of potential customers. A hotel should constantly monitor all travel-related social-media platforms, weblogs, and websites, responding to positive postings with courteous remarks, and to negative comments with a expression of gratitude for pointing out the lapse in service. Even bad postings can generate positive promotion if the hotel communicates a sincere desire to improve.
Successful technology integration – CRM monitoring and communication activities can place a large burden on hotel staff. Integrating CRM into a hotels booking engine or central reservation system allows the automation of many tasks, reducing the load on human resources. (more about Pelican integrate CRM).
While the successful exploitation of online booking and social-media presence is essential for a hotel to remain competitive, a marketing strategy is only as good as the product it promotes. A hotel, perhaps more than any other business, is entirely dependent on the dedication of staff and management to their primary duties. Automating routine reservation and customer-relations tasks through careful application of new online technologies frees time for hotel employees to do what they do best: keeping each guest satisfied, comfortable, and looking forward to another stay.