Tips on beating the OTAs and how to get those direct bookings

OTAs have increased their ad spending enormously, but there are ways to beat them out and gain more direct bookings.

Expedia ranks as one of the top 26 companies in the world to spend the most on advertising.  Booking Holdings has recently increased their ad spend by 10%.

What does this mean for you, the independent hospitality owner?

The OTAs are spending loads to appear in front of the potential customer. The annoying thing is that they are spending our money! They are using our increased commission costs to earn more bookings.

How will the CMA investigation help youAll small hoteliers are currently fighting a losing battle.  We have two options: give up or fight back.

I'm going to talk about three things you can do right now to combat the mammoth that is the Online Travel Agents (OTAs). 

1. Tell everyone who visits your website to book directly.

Open up your website. Does it state WHY a guest should directly book your property as opposed to going through OTAs?

If it does not, you need to change it or message your web designer right now!

Whether you are going to offer the guests:

  • Better rates
  • A bottle of wine on arrival
  • An earlier check-in time

This all needs to be stated on the home page of your website, not tucked away on a page no one is going to see.

2. Trademark your property’s name.

Do a Google search for your property’s name and the town that you are based. When I used to do this for The Grainary Scarborough, I had FIVE other websites bidding on my brand name. (All OTAs, of course.)

  • Expedia
  • TripAdvisor
  • Hostelworld (I didn't understand this one)

That was five other websites appearing above mine, even though I had typed in “The Grainary in Scarborough.” That is MY business! Now, if  I had typed in “accommodation in Scarborough”, fair enough. That's a general search that doesn't indicate that the seeker is specifically looking to stay at my hotel. However, when someone types in my exact business name, I should be number one!

How do you stop this? You trademark your business name. When you trademark a business, other people cannot advertise using the brand's name. That includes the OTAs.

It costs £200 to trademark a business name. The form takes between 10 and 30 minutes to fill in. Then you're done!

24 hours after I got The Grainary trademarked, we had three direct bookings come in via our website!

The only downside is that a trademark claim takes three months to pass. In the meantime, here's a neat trick you can use.


3. Use Google Adwords and bid on your brand name.

All the OTAs are doing it, so why can't you? Put yourself right up on the list where potential customers are looking for your website.

You can even get smart with the wording and add something like “OFFICIAL WEBSITE FOR THE GRAINARY. Book directly with us for {insert value}.”

There are so many other things you can be doing to boost your direct bookings and beat out the OTAs. Hopefully, these three tips helped.

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