You may think that OTA’s have cornered the booking market because you do not have the funds to compete with companies that can spend billions of dollars on online and television advertising. The reality is that you can compete, thrive, and even outdo the OTA monsters.
The keys to beating OTAs are learning from their tactics and using the comparatively limited advertising budget that your hotel has in the proper way to produce maximum reward per advertising dollar.
The OTAs have an advantage in reaching the top of search engines because they buy top billing by using apps like Google AdWords. The OTAs also have the advantage of using a lot of brand name hotels and motels to boost their position in searches.
The OTAs own the booking metasearch sites. This fact coupled with placement means that OTAs can and do dictate pricing for rooms. The OTAs stay at the top of search results because they can afford to buy the best writers to constantly update their sites and reviews with the quality content that the artificial intelligence that guides Google search results demands these days.
It may sound like the small hotel cannot compete but that is just not true. The following ideas are the way to use the OTA against itself and in your favor. There is nothing illegal about doing any of this. It is just smart business making use of the reality that exists.
1) Use pay-per-click to get your hotel to the top of OTA listings. You pay for the privilege by bidding on your brand and destination. This tactic counters the OTA use of brand names to boost their position in search results.
2) You need to get specific. People want certain services, features, and amenities from a hotel. Rewrite your brand so that you feature what you do best. This makes you unique and since search engines look for unique you get higher position in results and more interest from people looking for hotels in your city.
3) Use long-tail keywords as the tool to advertise your special amenities and services. This tactic builds a niche that even the big brands cannot compete with.
4) Enroll in instant booking programs. The programs may cost you as much as 15 percent of the rate for a given room but you have the advantage of changing rates and keeping your small hotel full to offset the additional charges. This scheme beats OTA’s metasearch advantage.
5) Go mobile. The world shops with their phones. Google and other search engines have changed the presentation format for mobile searches to show only three selections per page. If you use the above tactics you have a better chance of being in the top three on the first page of mobile searches.
6) Go local. Algorithms that manage local searches have also changed. The way to stay on top is to constantly update your hotel site. Having pages that use the same phrase or the same words will kill you in search results. Using phrases like the best hotel in this city (your city) is also a sure way to lose position.
7) Add value. Tell your potential clients about special events in your city, local colour in out of the way restaurants and bars, and anything that your competition is not showing off. This beats local competition and OTA brands by adding value and making a good impression.