To some they are a godsend to fill vacant rooms, to many they are the parasites of the industry.
While OTAs offer a number of advantages to accommodation providers including a wide, multi-national reach and big marketing budgets, the commission rates of anything from 15 per cent up to 30 per cent are a heavy burden on business profit margins. Remember the days of 10 per cent to bricks- and-mortar travel agents?
Small wonder that there is a huge drive by accommodation providers to secure direct bookings. Some are doing it very well but many are appalling by just not realising what ‘online service’ is all about. It’s not just a case of having a website and offering incentives, it is the need to provide a full consumer- friendly booking experience that makes it simpler (and financially beneficial) for potential guests to book direct. That means putting no impediments in the way of a direct booking.
There are a lot of accommodation providers out there that think that a consumer-friendly website with a couple of come-ons in the way of a free drink on arrival is sufficient to overcome the OTA pheomenon. It’s not.
The one power that an accommodation provider has over an OTA is direct content. Don’t hide your phone number, personal email address… make it easy for a potential guest to talk to you. Not everything is done online. People like to know that they will be staying with real people and if they can’t talk to a real person when they want to make a booking, then you’ve lost them.
My wife organises four coach trips a year for one garden club and two a year for another. They are only for about 30-40 oldies each but the “service” she gets from accommodation providers leaves much to be desired. If you think about it, that is at minimum 75 bed nights on a twin-share basis at pretty good rates. Yet the amount of assistance my wife organiser gets from accommodation providers is, frankly, pathetic.
Accommodation providers must realise that communication is a two-way thing.
To read the full article, check out our upcoming 52nd issue of Accom Management Guide.