How OTAs Rank Hotels

By: O'Rourke Hospitality Team

As all hoteliers know, landing one of the top rankings on SERPs is critical to increase traffic to your website and, therefore, increase direct bookings.

However, the top rankings on OTAs are also important and something hoteliers should pay attention to.  According to Statista, OTAs accounted for 52% of all hotel rooms sold in 2015.  Clearly, resorts rely on OTAs for a significant portion of their revenues.

So how do OTAs rank hotels to determine which appear at the top of the page? The most important factor is how effectively the property converts guests. The Priceline Group and Bookings.com reportedly find that high customer reviews, interesting content, and high quality images result in more conversions than hotels without these features. Therefore, OTAs will place hotels with these features higher than hotels with poor reviews, content and photos.

Naturally, since many guests turn to OTAs in search of a deal, price is an important factor when OTAs rank properties. Much like shopping at Amazon, guests can filter results based on price as well as other amenities when searching. Hotel rooms priced at what guests perceive to be a good value will create more conversions, generating revenue for both the OTA and the hotel, and will improve the property’s visibility on OTAs.

Scott McCartney from the Wall Street Journal says that hotels with poor customer reviews are punished for their bad service by ending up lower in the rankings. While this seems to be an advantage for guests, biased reviews may sour a hotel’s position within the rankings.

Additionally, OTAs are privy to guests’ online profiles and can tailor their results pages based on what they think a specific guest wants to see. For example, if a guest’s online profile appears to be a mother, she will see results for family-oriented hotels. A college-age guest will see accommodation options for younger travelers.  As OTAs build and improve their databases of customer preferences, we can expect that personalized OTA results will be more and more common.

Visibility is critical due to the high number of bookings that are made on OTAs. Fortunately, by creating profiles using engaging content, high-quality photos and by providing excellent service that guests review positively, your hotel or inn will likely appear at the top of results pages.

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