Understanding the Marketing Strategies for OTA’s vs Hotels Website

By.  Ahmed Mahmoud 13th Jan 2016

Expedia, Booking.com, Kayak and Hotels.com are prolific spenders on Google AdWords, regularly logging in the top fifty search engine marketers by spending an average of $67,250 per day. And that’s just on Google.

So how does this ad spend play out across all search engines, including Bing and AOL?

The answers come from an OTA/hotels paid search analysis by search advertising monitors Brand Verity, who considered 100,000 search results.

Specifically, the analysis looked at PPC ads that were triggered by hotels’ branded keywords – such as “New York Hyatt.”

The findings show just how much the online travel agencies are outspending hotels, using their breadth of inventory and depth of pockets to deliver more in-bound paid clicks. In short, this study says that OTAs are indeed bidding against hotels in ad auctions – and are paying handsomely to rank concurrently or higher than hotel brands.

Moreover customers go to OTAs to simplify things and get access to many choice , just go and have a look at Booking.com home page and breakdown , what you will see

  • Nice clear ratings – stars, text and numbers – customer can’t go wrong surely!
  • Discount messages
  • Thumbs up symbols – providing the customer who is not sure which way to turn with reassurance
  • Latest booking 20 mins ago
  • There are 32 people looking at this property

When someone searches XYZ Hotel in Google with the following query (just type the hotel name or the city name) the result is headed by the OTAs AdWords ads they buy from Google ( Booking.com is number one buyers and number one show in search results ) – and charged hotels through commissions – with the intended idea to get ahead of hotels website’s offer.

It’s interesting to note that when you click on the property, the number of people looking goes up and the time since the latest booking comes down. What this does is validate to the customer that he or she is looking at a good option and begins to create a sense of urgency – better book that hotel before someone else does!

This is called a ‘sub-conscious positive reinforcements’.

Best price guarantees and ‘savings’ messages are also dotted throughout.

And, that’s not all. There are further carefully worded phrases and tools to help the consumer dive for his or her credit card. Free booking and free cancellation are some you often see, again providing the consumer with peace of mind that they can change their mind.

The reality is that the cancellation policy tends to be no different than if the consumer had gone to the hotel direct and you don’t tend to pay a booking free when you phone a hotel or book on its brand website.

Think about your hotel who has been ranked in search engines with the right keywords and that is why the competition between any hotel and OTAs is tough as they promote ads with messages like “Exclusive Discounts” or “price guaranteed” to what my business is disadvantaged.

Plus those ads are false, since the best prices are always the ones marketed by the Hotel or at least equally cheaper (although OTAs try to avoid it with their contracts and clauses).

The OTAs are one of the sales channel from the hotel pricing and marketing strategy, but not the only one. We need to be very careful with this because if we fail to certify our independency with intermediaries, we lose control of our business and worst we cut the contact with direct sales in the digital sphere.

Online travel agencies are part of my sell strategy. These channels allow me to act fast, try promotions, stimulate buyers, support branding actions and many other goals. Among the options we have as independent hotels the digital medias should come first for costs, market penetration, ubiquity of our customers, coverage and self-management of content

About  Ahmed Mahmoud

Ahmed Mahmoud has more than a decade of experience in the hospitality industry and business administration, Ahmed began his career early by holding a variety of management positions with such top hotel chains as Accor Hotels, Hyatt International and Starwood hotels. With decades of revenue management experience Ahmed founded RevenueYourHotel.com the very dedicated site for revenue management news, articles,

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