Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) can be an important source of revenue and an undeniable marketing influence for your property. In fact, in the UK, 80 percent of accommodation providers say they connect to at least one major OTA, and travelers are increasingly turning to OTAs to book their travel accommodations.
Still, simply listing your property on an OTA won’t necessarily increase your revenue, especially because many travelers searching for an accommodation never make it past the second page of OTA search results. That’s why ranking high in OTA search results is so essential.
How rankings are decided on Booking.com and other OTA sites
Not all OTAs are the same and you may notice that your property’s ranking is different on different sites, however, the factors that go into ranking are generally influenced by:
- Guest Reviews
- Overall room availability
- Rate parity when compared to other OTAs
- The commission payout
Ultimately, properties that attract the most guests and provide the best guest experience are rewarded with higher positions because they are satisfying, and often exceeding, their guests’ needs and expectation.
How to increase your ranking on OTAs
There are a number of actions you can take to increase your ranking on sites like Booking.com and other OTAs. The number one most influential step is: manage your hotel reputation.
OTAs want their customers to be happy and the accommodation they choose to meet their expectations and beyond. For this reason, OTA search results will first display properties with the best reputation and highest ratings. That’s why your property’s reputation is often the most valuable asset you have.
How can you effectively manage your property’s reputation? Well, you can start by using tools to monitor your reputation online. Services like Xperium by RepUp can help you keep track of and respond to online reviews across various OTAs and review sites, all from one simple dashboard. The best part is, a lot of these tools can be integrated into your PMS so you can use them all in one place.
Aside from using reputation management tools, be sure to respond to each consumers review you receive – even the negative ones. This practice strengthens your brand and reputation by showing your guests you care about their experience and are actively working to keep guests happy. Before you start responding to reviews, have a plan in place for how to handle all review types, including a crisis communication plan for worst-case scenarios.
You can also be proactive about collecting feedback by soliciting reviews from guests who stayed at your property. Whether you decide to request reviews via email or use a tool like TrustYou to automatically collect guest satisfaction surveys for you, try to get their feedback as soon as possible. This way your guests’ experience is fresh in their mind and you can capture their most authentic feedback. By asking for a review, you can:
- Show guests that your team cares about their experience and your business
- Keep new reviews coming in
- Discover which parts of your business are doing well and which parts need improvement
By managing your guest satisfaction you will, in turn, improve your online reputation which can lead to a strong placement in OTA search results. In order to do this, you need to be receiving positive guest reviews to fuel your market reputation and gain more bookings from consumers.
Keep pricing competitive
The large majority of travelers are price-driven when it comes to booking an accommodation, and rate shopping is at the core of the competition of OTA search results. Booking.com and other OTAs know that price is a top priority for their users so they prioritize properties with the best rates for specific searches.
Keeping your rates competitive and reasonable for the season is essential to achieving a higher OTA ranking. Most OTA sites will routinely check if rates being offered are reasonable for the property type and/or the date range in the year. If the OTA finds suspicious-looking rates, they’ll either flag your listing or drop your property down in their search ranking.
Refresh your content
Having full room-and-property descriptions is a good start to helping increase customers conversions. Additionally, Airbnb found that properties that use pro photography have a 16% higher probability of being booked and 26%higher average price per night. Listings with incomplete content or information that hasn’t been updated in a long time will be penalized by OTA sites.
When creating your property’s OTA listing, think of the user experience and be sure to:
- Highlight your property’s best features
- Include descriptive details that make your property stand out
- Add high-quality photos of each room, including common areas
- Update your listing with important information like a seasonal pool closure or new onsite restaurant opening
The point is to put your property’s best foot forward, craft a guest experience through pictures and descriptions, and alert your guests to anything that might affect their experience, like nearby construction. By doing this, you can not only better manage your guests’ expectations, but also keep your property’s listing fresh, relevant, and at the top of OTA search results.
There is no denying the power OTAs possess and the potential they have to help make your hospitality business more successful. Scoring big with OTAs involves strategic action on your part so you can rank higher and get your property in front of a wide travel audience. Get more tips and tricks for OTA best practices by listening to our webinar titled How to be Successful on Booking.com.
Additionally, having a property management system (PMS) with a built-in channel manager, like Cloudbeds, can help you push your inventory to the most profitable OTA channels. Most properties are only connected to the biggest and most well-known OTAs that charge the highest commission rates and may not even attract your ideal travel audience. If you want help discovering the best OTA channels for your specific property type, then check out Cloudbeds’ free guide – Big Book of OTAS: The Ultimate Guide to Channel Management and Choosing the Right OTAs for your Property.