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GUEST POST: Key strategies to shift bookings from OTAs to direct and keep the cash

April 12th, 2017 | | industry

This topic is central to how GuestCentrix can assist properties with its Yield & Web Interface Manager.

Recently a new property group ‘running 95% occupancy in prime city locations’ called us in for a meeting to discuss how they could use GuestCentrix to shift some bookings back to direct channels and start to reduce OTA commissions.

Within a couple of hours of sitting with our product specialists we made a plan with them to make some small changes and deploy GuestCentrix Yield & Web Interface Manager which will help control rates and also availability through their channel manager and out to their key OTA’s in a smarter way.

The OTA’s are a huge and very valuable source of business to this client but with a strategy and tools in place they can level the playing field during peak periods and drive direct bookings to their website and also front desk and phones given their prime locations.

The upgrade for GuestCentrix Yield & Web Interface Manager and the channel manager will not cost them an extra dollar and only requires a few hours of tactical re-mapping to save them $10,000’s of dollars per month.

NB: The content below comes from Milestone (a GuestCentrix partner)

As large OTAs increasingly use aggressive marketing techniques, hostels are at risk of losing a significant share of their total reservations to third parties.

Properties often cite the digital media advertising budget strength of OTAs as the primary reason for this shift.  While the advertising budget strength of OTAs is noteworthy, the truth is that a substantial portion of the OTAs market share growth has been driven by organic search traffic.

Robust website technology combined with extensive research on conversion techniques drive this growth.  In addition, OTAs do an excellent job of search engine marketing and email marketing.  The surprising truth is that all these strategies are easily accessible to individual properties or chains, offering an immense opportunity to enhance direct revenue while lowering the cost of distribution.

Here are just four top strategies that are most effective in driving direct business:

 

Website technology

Properties need to ensure that the website user experience and technology for search and conversion is on par or better than the technology deployed by large OTA sites.  Some elements that can easily scale to hostel sites are:

Schemas (Structured data) for voice search and latest search algorithms

Extensive use of structured data to mark up the content on your website leads to better indexing of content by search engines and hence a better ranking on search.  Structured data is necessary for not only search engines but also Apple’s mapping engine and other major consumer channels. OTA sites were the first sites in the travel industry to deploy structured data and hence their great visibility in search.

 

A/B Testing

Another key technique that OTAs deploy is constant A/B testing to enhance the user experience and conversion on the site.  Milestone’s CMS has a conversion rate optimization module that allows properties to conduct A/B testing using technology like that deployed on large, enterprise content management systems.  A Milestone customer recovered $10,000 a month in revenue using this technology.

 

Mobile AMP Site – Leapfrog OTAs and your competition on mobile with AMP

One of Google’s biggest initiatives of 2017 is to enhance the mobile experience using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). Google found that 40% of visitors abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.  AMP sites load 4x faster, in less than a second, and consume 10x less data.   AMP sites offer a unique opportunity for properties to provide a better user experience and visibility to their direct channel website.  Milestone’s CMS is the world’s first hospitality industry CMS to enable AMP sites for our customers.

Source and full list of strategies: CMS Hospitality

 

This article provides insights into some of the top strategies deployed by Milestone to increase direct bookings for customers.

About Milestone

Milestone is a leading provider of digital marketing software and services for hospitality, retail and finance.