After the response I received from my blog post on Booking.com, I wanted to put together a post on how to get the most from your listing on Expedia.
The trick with all the online travel agents and listing sites is to put your information everywhere. These companies invest billions ensuring they are seen first when a potential guest starts their booking process, so if you don’t have a presence on all of the big online travel agents, you are leaving money on the table.
I appreciate the fact that you can’t be everywhere all of the time, though, so I recommend that you adopt the 80/20 rule.
How does this work?
1. Get listed on all of the online travel agents
2. Monitor the results over 6-12 months.
3. Find out which websites worked the best for bringing in bookings.
Once you implement this method, you’ll quickly find out which OTAs are making you the most money. Then, focus on the 20% of those websites that are bringing in 80% of the bookings.
When we ran this test, we found that Expedia was bringing in more bookings than we first thought. With that in mind, I wanted to put together a blog which showed you how to get the most from the Expedia group.
1. Upload high-quality photos
When you first join Expedia, you can upload pictures to their platform. Unlike other websites, you are not given a chance to write a long property description, so the images are everything.
As I have stated in the past, it is essential that you upload high-quality photos here. Expedia will flag your property profile if you are uploading pictures from a smartphone or old camera. Professional photos of your property are essential.
Unlike Booking.com and TripAdvisor, you don’t get to chose the order your photos appear on Expedia.
Note: You do get to chose the primary image, so make sure that this one showcases your USP (Unique Selling Point).
Advanced option: With Expedia, you can upload a virtual tour/360 imagery. To take advantage of this option, you need to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have included below what they will request back from you to help save you more time:
“To submit virtual tours, merely attach the files in an email to this address and to fully process your images, we require that they meet our format standards. Additionally, we need the full name of the company you worked with to have your virtual tours produced.
Please note that your virtual tours must meet the following format requirements:
1. Virtual tours must be a 360-degree panoramic image provided in jpg format only.
2. We recommend the longest edge of each virtual tour is 4500 pixels or larger.
3. Logos, maps, floor plans, and illustrations will not be displayed.
4. We do not accept panoramic images with visible seams, black and white photos, duplicate or near-duplicate images, images that include borders, or images with overlying text or graphics.
5. We do not accept QuickTime files, Windows media files, or Flash files. “
To stand out from the rest, I highly recommend adding a virtual tour to your listing.
2. Make sure your Property Management System (PMS) is linking to Expedia
The last thing you want is for your rates to be different on the OTAs than they are on your website. More importantly, you run the risk of double bookings if your PMS doesn’t link to Expedia properly.
Many PMS providers also understand why this is important and provide this service. When you work with a PMS like FreeToBook, for example, they automatically set up your listing on Expedia for you so that you don’t have to worry about this.
3. Adjust your check-in time to an hour after your usual check-in time
Over the past year, we’ve found this to be the secret to increasing direct bookings.
The Grainary’s check-in time for guests is 1 pm. If any guest books with us directly, they get the earlier check-in time. However, if a customer books via Expedia, they get a check-in time of 3 pm.
When we send out our booking confirmation email, we clearly state if the guest books with us directly, check-in time is earlier than if they schedule via an online travel agent.
What does this do? It gets into the customers head. For example, they might be coming to Scarborough for a wedding or an event. Usually, people come to stay for 48 hours. They want to get the maximum features and benefits, so they’ll want to check-in early.
We have had a decent number of people cancel their OTA booking and then called us directly to book the same room, thus saving us anywhere from 15% to 17% on commission in the process.
Something to look out for
When you have a listing with Expedia, you are not only listed on their website, but on all of their sister channels too. And there are a lot of those! They also share your property’s rates and information with other websites. This has caused a bit of controversy in the past. See here for more information.