How Hotels Can Beat the OTAs at Their Own Game

 

 

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When I was working as a travel agent during the early 2000's, people routinely came into the agency to plan their travel arrangements. Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) were already gaining momentum, but people still relied on our experience and advice to book travel. Since then, the OTAs have only surged in popularity with more and more information available to travelers online for them to make informed decisions and ultimately make the purchase transaction online.

The surge in popularity with the OTAs comes with a price. Today we hear hoteliers paying anywhere from 15% to 25%+ in commissions that would have normally come from relationships or through channels with a much lower cost. Add on top of that the OTAs have spent a great deal of money and effort to be ranked highly in search engines for both organic and paid results. If you search for your hotel, you will more likely see references to Expedia, Booking.com or TripAdvisor than your own website.

Google offers eight tools for hoteliers to manage their website's visibility online.

Google Adwords: An online advertising service that places advertising copy at the top or bottom of, or beside, the list of results Google displays for a particular search query. The choice and placement of the ads is based in part on a proprietary determination of the relevance of the search query to the advertising copy. The more hoteliers spend wisely on Google Adwords, the more high-quality visitors they are going to get.

Google Organic: Organic search results are listings on search engine results pages that appear because of their relevance to the search terms, as opposed to their being advertisements. In contrast, non-organic search results may include pay per click advertising (like Google Adwords). Hoteliers should have relevant content in their websites to have a better visibility when people search for related keywords.

Google+ Page: Google has described Google+ as a "social layer" that enhances many of its online properties, and that it is not simply a social networking website, but also an authorship tool that associates web-content directly with its owner/author.

Google Local Maps: Having your Hotel listed in the Google Local Map is a must for any hotelier especially for local SEO (Google Organic) strategies. Hoteliers should know that the Google+ Page is also a must for them if they want to use Google Local Maps.

Google Hotel Finder: It Provides searches similar to other Online Travel Agencies (Travel website) that searchers can search for check-in and check-out dates. The algorithm is similar to Priceline.com.

Google Carousel: Currently, the Google [Local] Carousel is only showing up for certain verticals. The only ones we’ve been able to confirm so far are restaurants, hotels, and colleges. Businesses that were previously below the fold will now be included in the carousel, meaning increased visibility and near equal footing with the top result. To make this happen, you still need to be ranked highly though.

Google Images: Google Images is a search service that allows users to search the Web for image content. Hoteliers should know that images are very important when it comes for travelers to compare them.

Google Video: Google recently announced that "Google Video for Business is shutting down and is currently in read-only mode".(Even though the search engine is still working for Google Videos)

Along with Google products, there are other sites such as Facebook and Twitter. While covering all of your bases is a good idea, Facebook is where most interactions take place and where your focus should be for the immediate future.

Read more on this topic on Hotel Executive.

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