Trone Research and Consulting
Category: Retail

5 Ways for Hotels to Maximize Bookings: Direct & OTA

In recent years, the hotel industry has been battling online travel agencies (OTAs) for sales. A decline in direct bookings and increases in commissions have led hotels to market aggressively to try to regain customers. But the truth is, OTAs are not the enemy. Working with OTAs provides an opportunity to attract new guests, get free marketing and reduce room inventory, particularly in off-peak times. Hoteliers should consider a strategy that promotes both OTA sales and direct bookings.

Hotel Booking Boosting Tips: 

  1. Upgrade your loyalty program. Many major hotel brands have been successful recently in improving direct bookings by providing loyalty incentives for members. Discounted stays. Free meals. Preferred rooms. Smart technology features. A bottle of wine waiting upon arrival. It’s all about creating loyal customers who will keep coming back and providing a steady revenue stream. And believe it or not, this might mean extending some of your loyalty perks to repeat OTA customers.

  2. Update your OTA listings. New high-resolution photos and detailed amenity descriptions can make a significant difference in attracting customers on a third-party site filled with competitors. Including information about on-site dining establishments, spas or other available services can encourage customers to visit your site to make reservations, boosting incremental revenue.

  3. Follow the urgency lead. OTAs are famous for gaining impulse bookings with “one room left” and “limited space available” claims. During high-demand periods, make sure your customers are aware of limited space.

  4. Don’t shun your OTA customers. It’s one thing to have a loyalty program. It’s another thing to make your OTA customers feel less welcome or less valued because they didn’t book direct. Given a fantastic guest experience, an OTA customer can be an incredibly valuable brand advocate. You may get a five-star review, a social media tag or even a recommendation to a friend.

  5. Ask for reviews everywhere. One great review can lead to multiple bookings. Make sure you’re encouraging satisfied guests to post reviews on your site, on OTAs and on Google reviews. On some platforms, improving your rating may improve the placement of your listing and, thus, the likelihood of consideration.

It’s important to remember that one of the primary benefits of OTAs is the ability to search and book everything in one place—hotels, flights, rental cars and more. Rather than fighting OTAs and risking losing bundled sales, it may be a smart business decision to embrace these sites as partners. They’re likely not going away any time soon.

Interested in performing hospitality market research to better understand customers and increase loyalty? Contact Trone Research + Consulting at 336.812.2002.

Doug Barton, President & CEO

Doug Barton

President & CEO

Doug is a career research, analytics and brand marketing executive with more than 35 years of experience working with Top 50 market research firms, Fortune 500 companies and marketing firms on client and supplier side.

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He is a leader and advisor with a proven track record of solving business challenges for start-ups as well as small to large businesses across the world. Doug’s industry experience spans across hospitality, telecom, CPG, financial services, insurance, textile and apparel, turf and ornamental, animal health and retail.

Kimberly Ness

Kimberly Ness

SVP, Insights & Marketing

With 25+ years of experience across research, branding and marketing, Kimberly has the unique ability to transform complicated data into a simple strategic plan that achieves results.

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She has led marketing efforts for global and national brands and has a specialty in animal health, working with brands like Zoetis, Boeringer Ingelheim and Mars Petcare. She is known as an industry thought leader and has been a featured speaker at Global Pet Expo, AAHA, CBI, Brakke Consulting and Fetch, a dvm360 conference.

Tom Minsel

Tom Minsel

PhD, Head of Research & Data Science

Tom is our PhD Statistician and master data miner with 25+ years in direct marketing, customer targeting, modeling and research design.

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His areas of expertise include statistics, applied and theoretical measurement, psychological research, survey research, summative and formative evaluation, SAS, sampling, trend analysis and generally all things analytics. Tom oversees more than 65 comprehensive studies each year to help clients better understand their customers.