Get a good website and booking tool: Your value proposition is best expressed in your own way. Sure, OTA’s and portal websites provide various ways to promote your business, but they cannot be relied upon to broadcast your complete value. Go ahead, throw your favorite professional images, video, and copy into your listings. In every case, you’ll be limited to presenting your value in the ways prescribed. The only way to showcase your property with flexibility is to have a truly optimized, visually captivating website. If it looks cheap, then that’s what they’ll be willing to pay. And, if it looks like everyone else’s, then how can you expect a shopper to choose you above all other options? That’s right, cheaper pricing… AARGH!
Instead of relying on shoppers to finalize their purchase by selecting you from a list, take them by the hand and guide them to your beautiful website. Make it the best possible marketing tool combined with a holistic marketing approach in all other areas. In other words, keep your brand consistent and showcase hot deals, promotions, updates on your website with all other marketing. Then, get your guests to follow you (keep in touch) through new means of social media, email, and text marketing campaigns. This brings in repeat groups, guests, and generates word-of-mouth business.
Hello? Internet marketing anyone?: Your ultimate goal is to route guests to your website where your value proposition is presented effectively to then funnel guests to your online booking tool. This is where they should find making a reservation to be simple, secure, and informative. So, set up every inbound link properly. When you are creating your listing for your local Chamber or CVB, for example, write the copy in such a way that the reader will want to click to visit the website, use promotion codes for a special discounts, and encourage click-through’s by using a call to action (to visit the website) everywhere possible.
OTA’s can be a blessing: Use OTA’s the way they were meant to be used. You can sign up for Expedia and just leave yourself wide open to receive bookings that will fill your rooms year round. But, what are your margins? Do you pay franchise fees on top of your OTA fees? People, I am telling you, the world is now full of savvy travelers who know how to use the internet to shop around. Online comparison shopping rules the day. So, if you are not visible online, or even quickly accessible through an online search, then yes, you will forfeit your chances at earning a higher return simply because you have chosen to sacrifice higher margins for easy OTA bookings. Use the OTA’s only to fill empty rooms that could not be filled otherwise. This means you’ll have to actively control your room inventory for your OTA listings on a daily basis. If you don’t have time for this, delegate or outsource.