Some OTAs have very high commissions, some have too few visitors and others are just not the right fit for your audience. So which ones are best suited for your property type? Here are our recommendations.
The massive online reach of OTAs makes them integral to every property’s distribution mix. More than a booking source, they’re perhaps the best way to get noticed on the internet.
Before we delve into which OTA would be suitable for your property type, let’s establish some key factors that will influence this choice.
Cost of an OTA.
One of the most important factors in deciding which OTAs you go with is the true cost of a booking it gives you. Don’t look at just the short term acquisition cost and commissions; look at the lifetime value of a customer coming through an OTA – which customers are loyal and big spenders? Your booking management system reports are a good indicator of such trends.
Target market and audience.
Hostels, B&Bs and guest houses are niche products. Identify your target customers and then see which OTA are they most likely to use. Similarly, if you’re targeting Chinese FTA market, Ctrip should be your choice.
Avoid dependencies on one or two OTAs.
Diversify your base choosing a mix of high reach OTAs with niche operators. Use the reporting tool in your booking management system to identify which mix works the best for your unique needs.
Now let’s assess your property and which OTAs may work for it.
Bed & Breakfasts
Typically intimate and even quirky lodgings, B&Bs are popular with couples looking for romantic getaways, adventurous travellers and guests seeking unique experiences. It would be right to say that most of your guests are relatively well off.
Operating on smaller profit margins, B&Bs generally do not have very deep pockets for marketing. Hence it is wise to choose OTAs that have lower commissions. Bedandbreakfast.com, hotels.com, AirBnB and flipkey.com have lower commissions and cater to your audience type. The other OTAs may have higher commissions but their reach makes them an important advertising medium. These include Expedia, Booking.com, Travelocity, Agoda and TripAdvisor. If you’re targeting Chinese visitors, list on Ctrip.
Yours is a transient audience – backpackers, adventure travellers and budget travellers. Hostels are great for trips with multiple locations, large groups, and small budgets. You should focus on OTAs with low commissions and niche target markets.
Hostelworld.com and hostels.com are the big ones in this category. Gomio is another one to consider. It provides great backpacking related information, puts all its hostels through a quality control test and has other cool features your audience will appreciate. To target Latin American countries, list your property on Despegar and Decolar. TripAdvisor’s reach and reviews make it important to add to your mix.
Perfect for couples, honeymooners, families and groups, guesthouses may come with a higher price tag but their sharing ability makes them a quite affordable. Operating on lower margins, the focus should be on low commission models.
TripAdvisor, Expedia, Travelocity, Agoda and Orbitz are great for reach, especially in low season when you need to hit out to a larger audience. Bedandbreakfast.com, AirBnB and hotels.com are also good mediums for guesthouses.
Are you a smaller independent property? Typically popular with solo travellers for their amenities and unique charm, guests to these properties want to be ingrained in the local culture. AirBnB is a great low-commission fit. Other suitable options include hotels.com, FlipKey and Ctrip (for those all important Chinese visitors). Again, don’t keep high-reach, but higher cost OTAs like TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Agoda, Expedia and Travelocity out of the running. Finally, manage your inventory wisely through your booking management system understand the reports it generates and allocate your inventory based on trends and insights.