5 Ways to Win the War Against the OTAs

With OTA business now accounting for 25% of all hotel bookings, an urgent and innovative strategy is needed to battle with the OTAs and drive bookings through your own website. However, promoting your website as the only place to get the best rate can be tough with so many alternatives available plus the ever-increasing budgets of the OTAs for online advertising.

If you’re ready to do battle, follow these top tips for successfully ensuring your website outperforms the rest!

1. Book Direct Incentives

What’s more attractive than a complimentary gift? Create a unique and attractive incentive that will ensure your target market will have no doubt that booking directly on your website is the best decision.

  • Partner with nearby shops or attractions for discounts that can only be received when booking directly. Keep it relevant to your guests: for example, don’t offer family passes if your main market is couples and romantic breaks.
  • Give a discount on hotel services. A €20 voucher off the signature treatments in the spa or a €10 off the set menu in the restaurant during a specific period are great ways of rewarding the guest for booking directly with you.
  • Free Hotel Signature Cocktail on Arrival: share this on your social media for more exposure.
  • Room Upgrade Lottery Draw each day.
  • Free Hotel Sweet Treat on arrival: change it up every week and get the chef to write a blog on it!

2. Best Rate Guarantee

To instil confidence that your website is the best place to make a booking, create a best rate guarantee and actively promote it on your website. Offer some compensation if a better rate is found elsewhere, such as:

  • Match the rate if found elsewhere.
  • Provide a free upgrade.
  • Free bottle of wine on arrival.

Once the best rate guarantee is created, it needs to be widely promoted across all mediums, your website, email marketing, email signature files, Pay Per Click campaigns, and any offline promotions.

3. Top Reasons to Book Direct

Ask yourself this question, why should someone book directly through my website and not on a third party? Then write down the answer and promote this on your website. Choose an attractive way to promote these reasons; utilise your website space and use your home page header banner to highlight these great reasons. Create an attractive graphic that grabs the attention on landing on the website.

Pin these reasons to your ‘Book Now’ button on your website or on a separate promotional panel on the website home page. Add the reasons to book to your PPC campaign to get the message across at the search stage.

4. Loyalty programme

Say thank you to loyal customers by offering them the opportunity to get discounts on future bookings. Create specific packages for return bookers and provide them with a secure password to access their specific offer. Differentiate yourself from the OTAs using this tactic and offer a personalised reward to your loyal guests.

5. Creative Marketing

While OTAs have large budgets to put behind all forms of advertising, standard budgets would be far smaller than these. Creative marketing can help to generate some natural (and more cost effective) advertising and PR. Developing your own hashtag/tag line is one way of doing this. The Marriott managed to do this very well with their “It Pays To Book Direct” strategy. Keep it short and snappy and use terminology that people are familiar with, #bookwithus, #directisbest #websitewins. Again, use your shop window (website home page) to promote your campaign and promote across all mediums of the web.

Never fear: the battle can be successfully fought with the OTAs and you can come out on top. Follow our top tips and get everyone in the hotel involved. Invite suggestions from everyone on the team, keep an eye on your competition, and partner with Aró to get the best results for your business!

Contact your Account Manager now to get your battle strategy in place.