When someone searches mi Hotel in Google with the following query “Viña del Mar hotel monterilla” the result is headed by the OTAs AdWords ads they buy from Google – and charged me through commissions – with the intended idea to get ahead of my website’s offer.
My Hotel has been ranked in search engines with the right keywords and that is why the competition between my 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 my 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.
Follow the next 3 tactics to sell more at a lower cost without OTAs and improve your profits :
1.- Intellectual property of your brand and image
If you notice, the word “Hotel Monterilla” is widely paid by the OTAs to offer THEIR website as the place where you should buy MY hotel. This violates the law of intellectual property and trademarks in most countries since “Hotel Monterilla” is trademarked by the company from which we exploit the hotel. Never in any contract we have given the permission to use our brand to anyone.
To avoid this violation of the property I wrote to Google and claimed my intellectual property and explicitly request to withdraw all unauthorized advertising of my brand.
You can claim yours through the “Claim Trademarks Form” .
2.- Your own sales strategy
Travel agents are like businesses that sell bread without ovens, or bakers, or recipes, etc… What OTAs need are “rooms” and that is what we have – without them there is no business! With this position clarified, you have to revert the domain that OTAs have on your business.
Why? Because it is our obligation to sell the best and most advantageous way our rooms (and with no fees!). Investing time and money in digital media is not an option among several, it is an obligation which needs devoted time of study and strategy planning.
Do you have to use intermediaries? Yeah sure, it’s always good to have them, but under bounded and clear conditions, because losing control of how, when, who, how much and under what conditions your rooms are sold is suicide. Because every business has ups and downs, but when there are downs we need to decrease costs, and commissions paid to OTAs are costs.
The problem is that they rang from 12% to 20% and even 25 %. If at the time you want to lower those costs or any time soon in the difficult but predictable future scenario… What will you do if your sales where based on such intermediaries? You’ll have to lower your prices and give them away at a loss.
Why should you do that if the owner of the room is you!
If you want to sell to limit prices to save costs momentarily is part of a strategy that includes over sold on good dates or use all the tools of revenue you want, but can not do it because you drown OTAs with their pricing policies where only earn them is the worst thing you can do.
3. – Distribution
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.
Therefore and without neglecting other channels :
- The web is where most of the communication is conveyed. Without a well build and coded website search engines won’t be able to find you on the internet, nor on mobile phones, tablets and Google, Bing or Yahoo!
- Keep fresh and up dated offers to promote them. Having good rates with attractive offers is vital (everybody is looking for the best price/value)
- A website without a personalized booking engine, no commission charges and connected with your PMS is useless as it is the basic tool to execute Room auction, crossed promotions , etc. .
- Social networks broadcast occupy are central for the strategy as they are free, effective, fast and profitable. The problem is that you must have something to communicate. Content must have the arguments to convince the potential clients that they have to stay in your hotel and not another one.
- Send emails without cause and without being given the authorization is spam , spam and annoy a lot. For this reason you should have a policy for your customers you deliver that address. With the contents not only facts you can send special offers , so you’ve done to improve the hotel , events, partnerships , etc. .