In our previous blog on defeating the OTAs, we discussed the history of OTAs, how they affect hoteliers and some marketing tactics we could employ to encourage direct bookings. But there’s another scenario that would throw most of those tactics out the window: going directly to the OTA site!
OTAs have invested a lot of time and money into advertising, which we believe has resulted in somewhat of a shift in consumer behavior. This shift causes many consumers to go directly to an OTA site to book travel arrangements. If this is the case, then many of the tactics we discussed previously simply won’t work or will be diminished significantly. Unfortunately in this instance, we must play in the OTAs own backyard, which means we’ll have to buy into their advertising programs in order to shift share away from them. Here are a few tactics to keep in mind, sorted by OTA:
Expedia was one of the original OTAs, first launching in 1996. Since then, they have continued to grow and have acquired other OTAs along the way. They have many advertising opportunities across their various properties, including Expedia, Hotwire and Hotels.com:
- Banner ads on various sections of their websites and also opportunities to create microsites for special offers.
- Social media advertising opportunities on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
- Sponsored listings, a PPC program design to give a hotel more visibility during a search.
- Display retargeting, which targets users with a banner ad or video of a hotel after they leave one of Expedia’s properties. Retargeting on Facebook.com is also available.
- E-mail advertising opportunities to their opt-in e-mail list.
Orbitz is another major OTA that offers a wide-range of advertising opportunities:
- Banner ads and other media placements throughout their website.
- Various opt-in e-mail and newsletter opportunities.
- Sponsored search listings, a PPC program designed to give a hotel more visibility during an Orbitz search.
- Display retargeting, potential guests see a hotel’s banner ad on other website after they left the Orbitz site.
Priceline has some memorable commercials that travelers will probably recognize, and they also have plenty of opportunities for advertising on their website:
- Many banner ad and video placement opportunities on their website, e-mails and even Facebook and Twitter advertising opportunities.
- Banner ads that target segmented users who visited the Priceline site (retargeting).
- Priceline sponsored listings, a PPC program that displays your hotel near the top of a Priceline search.
Travelocity has many options for advertising, which mostly include banner ads on their website, newsletter and mobile app.
These tactics seem like a lose-lose situation compared to what hoteliers are historically used to, and we’ll be the first ones to tell you that it is. However, we must also recognize that OTAs are here to stay and they have created a big wave of change in the way the consumer travels.
This isn’t the case for every hotel. We find that some clients simply don’t get a lot of OTA bookings, and so employing these tactics simply wouldn’t make sense. Then there’s the other end of the spectrum where clients see a lot of OTA bookings. In this case, it may or may not be a good investment to employ the tactics stated above. It really is a case-by-case decision.
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