Last week in Part I of the Effective Ways to Measure & Generate Demand, we discussed the first 2 steps to creating an efficient, effective and long-term demand generation strategy which were;
- Understanding your product, customer(s), and value proposition
- Creating the correct pricing to attract your target customers
In part II of this series, we will discuss demand generation within the OTA market segment and how you can position your hotel to become a market leader in this space.
Traditional OTAs like Booking.com, Expedia, HRS, Agoda, etc. Obviously, the first 2 OTAs mentioned on the list are the overwhelming producers; however do not overlook other small OTAs to generate additional business. Ensure you have a reliable channel manager that connects to a large variety of OTAs. Some OTA partners may only contribute a handful of reservations per month so you do the math. Take for example a hotel that works with 6 smaller OTAs that produce on average 8 room nights per month. That is an additional 576 room nights annually. This also helps to better spread your production amongst OTAs. As the old phrase goes, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
Another way to diversify OTA business and generate more demand is to look into your feeder markets. Are there local OTAs in those markets that can drive incremental business for your hotel? Have a look at your competitor hotels via MetaSearch sites and find out if they are working with any OTAs that you have not yet added and be sure to add them. If you do not have a solid insight on your feeder markets, you might be surprised to see what you find. Be sure that you review this on a monthly basis as you will find seasonality in your feeder markets.
When working with OTAs to generate demand, carefully consider targeted promotions. Some OTAs have the ability to push promotions to specific markets/clients so be sure that you understand all of your options.
Take for example a hotel located in Europe. January is typically very low season for most hotels in Europe but this is summer in South America. Therefore guests from this market would be taking their annual holidays. Speak with your market managers to see the options available for pushing out targeted promotions during your hotel’s low season. Be sure that you do this enough in advance to effect the target booking window.
Although OTAs come at a cost, these are experts in marketing and do have powerful tools to help your hotel. Ensure that you do a proper displacement analysis before running promotions to be smart about increasing your incremental revenue.
Lastly, look outside the obvious. During my days of Revenue Management for Independent Hotels, I used Airbnb as a channel for my hotels and it worked. Hotels are increasingly worried about the rise of this channel and for good cause. However if you can’t beat them, join them. Think about the traditional Airbnb guest, what are they looking for? Often larger rooms like Triple or Family rooms which traditionally was more difficult to sell in city center hotels during the weekdays. On top of that, stays for Airbnb guests tended to be much longer than the traditional OTA, normally 4+ nights. So by adding this channel, I was able to further diversify my distribution, fill lower demand rooms, save on cost (Airbnb is low commission) and also add incremental revenue.