What can you learn from Online Travel Agents?

Online Travel Agents (OTA) have been in news for a few years in the middle of the conflict between distribution and booking direct. But what can you learn from them to help you in your business.

Many things actually…

Mainly how to use technology to induce buyers to buy. For them it does not matter if the customer chooses X or Y product. They get a commission irrespective of what the customer buy.

But for your hotel, it may be a matter of profit or loss so use the exact strategies they use to leverage sales.

Encourage repeat sales

You and your sales team know that the cost of acquisition of a single client is cost prohibitive. So you need your guest to keep coming often. As soon as you make a booking on any online channel, use a hotel and check out, they start a barrage of email and banner ads to try and get you to book again. As you continue to keep booking on the platform, their cost of acquisition goes lower and they make money.

As a small hotel, you may not have the bandwidth of pouring in unlimited money on acquiring customers, but by getting your guest to keep using you you can make more money.

Run a loyalty program

Whether it is a coupon program that MMT runs or points based program of Expedia or member only Genius program of Booking.com, all these engines run a loyalty program. At the simplest to operate is a instant gratification program which offers instant perks. You can offer it at your hotel without having to keep expensive tracking mechanism. Discounts on spa, food and beverage and on next bookings are easy way to entice guest to keep booking with you.

Maintain segments within your database

You know that not all of your guest are equal. Some are value oriented, some are last minute travelers and some are impulsive buyers. Create targeted offers based on what each guest has done in past. Look at data and segment them and create customized offer for each category of guest.

Some other example of slicing your database is by guest birthdays or anniversaries, where they usually do take time out to spend with family. Send targeted offers to guest just before their special day so that they can consider you.

Beating the OTA with their deep pockets may be difficult, but no once can stop you from copying what they have done well.

Explore these strategies to improve your direct business.

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