OTA connections

OTA stands for Online Travel Agency, or more simply put: ‘booking site’. An OTA is a website on which travellers can book products such as a hotel room, transport and activities. The OTA makes sure your rooms are displayed on the site, arranges the booking process of the traveller and is the primary contact for the guest. As a hotelier, you can offer your rooms on the OTA to increase the number of bookings.

What you need to know about OTA’s:

Before you can sell your rooms on a booking site, you make arrangements with the OTA and sign a contract. Among other things, you make contractual agreements about the earnings model. Usually, the contract does not consist of monthly fixed costs, but the OTA receives a percentage of the total price of the booking made. We also call this commission. The amount of commission that has to be paid differs per booking site or negotiation (if you are in the position to negotiate). Once you made these arrangements and you have set up your account, the rooms will be displayed on the booking site for guests to book.

When a booker searches for hotel accommodation, he often looks at one or more OTA’s. By working with OTA’s, you increase your visibility and the chance that a guest will stumble upon your location. It also gives you the possibility to reach new target groups that otherwise would not have found your property.

Another advantage is that you can free-ride on the marketing success of the OTA. Booking sites often spend a lot of money on marketing and advertisements, which automatically gives your hotel more visibility. Employees of OTA’s have specialist knowledge of the market. They can help you with advice on regional trends, promotions and packages. A small remark: use your common sense, because OTA’s are set up to sell as much as possible. It should also be profitable for your hotel, not only for the OTA.

After a while, you will get a good insight into how your hotel is doing on the booking site, because many OTA’s have their data and reporting tool. It can also put some pressure to perform better, although it is especially interesting to see how many rooms you have sold through the booking site. The OTA is also beneficial to receive reviews from guests, which can convince new travellers to choose your hotel.

There is no generic ‘best’ option when it comes to OTA’s. There are many to choose from, and they come in all shapes and sizes. They can be huge, globally known OTA’s, but there are also booking sites that specialize in a niche market. If you have a Channel Manager, make sure the booking site has a connection to it. It’s a shame if you end up having to do a lot of manual work. Also, take a look at the target group of the booking site. Does it suit the type of guests you want to attract? A booking site that focuses on hostels is probably not a logical choice if you have a B&B.

Also, ask how many bookings are made on average per week at the booking site. It may just turn out that the booking site is excellent for extra online visibility, but doesn’t generate any reservations at all. Does that fit into your hotel strategy? If it does, it can never hurt to connect.

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