Understanding Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) is probably one of the most important things for any accommodation owner to wrap their head around. Between Booking.com, Expedia, TripAdvisor and Travelground, local accommodation owners have a lot to juggle… And that’s without taking into account the guests who need looking after! We asked The Reservation Office for some tips on how to improve your ranking on OTAs.
1. Spend your efforts carefully
Think about your property, and what suits you, and choose the OTAs that work best for you. Focus on the OTAs that are best suited to your property and maintain them at 100%. You won’t have time to check in with every OTA every week, so spend the time you do have on the OTAs that give you the best returns. If you’re a 5 star establishment, for example, it’s worthwhile adding Mr & Mrs Smith or Hotelbeds to your OTAs; if you’re 3 or 4 star, then Travelground or SA Venues may be a better fit.
2. Do a quick audit
When is the last time you looked at your various profiles on each OTA? Take a look and see if your description is still current, what your photos look like, and how you shape up next to your competitors. It’s a good idea to have a standard description that you can tweak to suit each channel, including information on what is included in the room rate (breakfast, wifi, en-suite bathroom etc) and any unique details about your property. Having a consistent presence on OTAs makes them easier to manage and keep updated.
3. Be smart with your photographs
You already know how important it is to brief the photographer (even if that photographer is you!) But it’s also important to choose your first photos carefully – the five photos forming the top display of each OTA should include:
1. Your primary image
2. An exterior shot
3. A bedroom shot
4. A photo that shows what’s for breakfast
5. A pool shot if you have it (outdoor space if you don’t).
4. Choose promotions carefully
It can be very tempting to say yes to every promotion offer that is suggested by the various OTAs. But remember that there’s commission to pay, and any promotional discount on top of that. So the net amount you get at the end may be less than anticipated. It’s also important to understand the terminology of the promotion – “travel within 3 days”, for example. Is that 3 days of the current date, within 3 days of booking, or within 3 days of certain dates? Make sure you know exactly what it means before you commit to a promotion.
5. Keep it fresh
It’s important to regularly log in to each of your OTAs (ideally once a week, or every fortnight) and refresh things. This can be as simple as changing your photo order – keep your primary image the same but shuffle the other photos around, or remove a pic this week and put it back next week. It’s also good to see if there are any updates or new opportunities to take advantage of. This links back to the advice to choose your OTAs carefully and maintain them 100%. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the maintenance, you may have too many OTAs listed, or you may need to call in some help.
Have you learnt any magic tricks when it comes to managing OTAs? Share them with us, and let’s all learn from each other!