The relationship between OTAs and their primary breadwinners—hotels—has been closer to one of rivals than business partners. However, both partners must work together effectively to achieve optimal success. Fortunately for hotels, changes in technology and consumer behavior are creating new ways for these long-time adversaries to collaborate. New online booking channels are shifting the traditional OTA and hotel relationship by introducing a business model that empowers hotels to improve their bookings without cutting rates, using unique strategies and tool that bring them closer to guests.
This new breed of online booking channels offers true value to both hotels and guests by connecting consumers with the rates and property features they want, while giving hotels access to data that will help them improve guest loyalty and boost bookings. Below are some of the ways that new channel partners are helping to enable an even better relationship between guests and hotels.
Pinpointing socially active guests
Online booking channels are increasingly adding tools to identify high-value, socially active consumers who are more likely to review or recommend a property online, which can help boost bookings and revenues. These customers are also more likely to share photos and videos on social media that will help influence their followers and friends to consider booking at a property. Hotels can leverage the benefits of social influencer marketing to inspire guests to engage and share their experiences on social media, promoting more visibility for the hotel brand.
Accessing guest data.
A traditional OTA and hotel relationship may not have involved sharing insights into guest behaviors and booking habits, but that may be changing. More channel partners now offer access to valuable guest information so that hotels can tailor their offers and services to meet guest preferences.
Marketing experiences vs. beds.
Guests are increasingly placing more emphasis on the importance of experiences rather than material goods and luxury amenities. Channel partners are responding to this by creating tools that enable hotels to provide complete travel experiences and an in-depth understanding of the destination rather than just a place for guests to lay their heads at night.
As mobile booking becomes more prolific, channels are providing unique mobile tools to improve guests’ experiences both during the booking phase and throughout their stay.
Scrapping race-to-the-bottom pricing.
Unlike traditional OTAs, new online booking channels are not encouraging hoteliers to slash rates as a strategy to boost bookings. Discounting is not necessarily smart revenue management strategy as it can effectively diminish a property’s brand value in the minds of consumers. The practice can also create a downward spiral of competition that continuously undercuts hotels’ bottom lines and erodes their financial performance. Instead, new channels enable hotels to offer promotional rates and value-adds to incentivize consumers to book, while earning more revenue from each booking secured.
With more options for booking partners, hotels can build a better relationship with non-traditional OTAs that ultimately benefits both hotelier and guest.
About the Author
Mike Murray is the founder of Vir.al, a new content-driven hotel booking app and website.