Your property might have a top-tier concierge service, freshly pressed linens and an ocean view, but it can’t sell itself. Guests need to be able to visualize themselves enjoying those plush pillows, five-star meals and sandy beaches before they start daydreaming about your property. Simply listing your property on Online Travel Agencies like Expedia increase total reservation volume by 7.5 to 26 percent, according to a Cornell University study. But with competitors flooding the choices, it is easy to get lost in the mix. To maximize the benefits of Global Distribution Services and OTA’s, you need to create a listing so attractive that guests can’t stop picturing themselves spending their vacation at your property.
The visual appeal of a property should stop guests in their tracks. Every time they browse away to another property, the images of your property should be calling them back, like a refrain. If your listing offers videos or photos, they must be high quality and show the true state of your property. A professional photographer will be able to capture the true essence of the property.
Use appealing photos that will not only be representative of the individual property, but which will also entice potential guests, helping them visualize how they will spend every moment of their stay. Doubling a hotel’s online pictures can result in 4.5 percent take-up and $3.50 higher average daily rate, according to PhoCusWright’s Consumer Travel Report. If potential customers cannot picture what their wonderful hotel experiences will be like, they will quickly move on to a site they trust to paint a better picture for them.
These three additional tips will help you get a better picture of how to maximize your OTA presence:
- Encourage customers to give feedback via OTAs and review sites. Not only will peer reviews allow users to make a more informed decision, but OTA users trust their peers, so a positive review can be very valuable.
- Try to appeal to international travelers. They stay for longer periods and are less likely to cancel bookings. Spell out the amenities and features that would cater to them.
- Offer incentives for booking through OTA’s. Stand out from the pack by offering to provide guests who book through an OTA a free meal or a spa voucher, for example.
- Each property listing should be consistent across all OTA’s. Do not confuse guests by listing different amenities or photos for the same property on different OTA’s.
Although you may not notice a drastic increase in bookings through OTA’s initially, in the long term you will achieve greater visibility and experience an increase in direct bookings as a result of an improved OTA profile.
The Cornell study determined that direct bookings on the property website and via phone are directly influenced by OTA listings. A whopping 75 percent of guests use OTA’s to begin their hotel search. Make your listing so appealing that guests just can’t shake the image from their heads. The bookings will come pouring in faster than you ever imagined they could.