How To Fight Back Against OTAs By Improving User Experience

Photo courtesy of Alejandro Escamilla at
Posted on Feb 25th 2016

Online Travel Agencies can get your property’s name in front of a huge market of travellers, drive last minute bookings and fill rooms that might otherwise go empty. But this increased exposure comes at a cost, and most independent hoteliers are struggling with an over-reliance on OTAs that is detrimental to their bottom line.

Since there’s no denying the value and convenience these platforms offer online travel shoppers, it’s safe to say they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. So how can you strike the right balance, wrestle power away from the OTAs and reduce commission costs? Your goal is simple: to drive more bookings made directly through your resort website by providing the best possible user experience for your guests.

Get Serious About User Experience

Creating a great user experience is one of the most powerful marketing tools out there, and it’s very achievable, too.

Make sure your website provides the best possible experience for your guests by providing comprehensive but easy to read room descriptions, eye-catching visual content, compelling calls to action and a straight-forward, intuitive booking process. Don’t stop there though. Your website should offer extra services the OTAs cannot, such as change of booking options, special packages, gift vouchers and more. It doesn’t matter if your guests discovered your hotel on a travel website, but it’s really bad if they then go back to that site to book. It means you have failed to engage them with a better value proposition, or worse yet, frustrated them with a poorly designed and overly complicated booking system.

That Means Mobile User Experience, Too

How much of your website is easily accessible to your guests browsing on their mobile phones? Can they preview rooms from a small screen, view your facilities and make and change bookings? Because all the big OTAs offer these services and more for mobile users. If you don’t aim to provide a similarly mobile-friendly experience, prepare to keep paying more commission than you should.

Try Omnichannel Marketing

This is something the OTAs excel at. Once you’ve looked at a few properties on a site like Expedia, they will follow you around the internet with targeted messages to remind you to book. How do they do it? Mostly just small pieces of simple code and Google products that are just as easy for smaller businesses to implement. Start with a small campaign with a budget limited to the amount of commission you pay for one night/room booked through an OTA and see how you get on.

If you want to minimise the influence of OTAs on your resort’s bottom line, start by building or rebuilding your website with a laser-focus on user experience. Give your guests a reason to stay on your website, book directly and stay loyal to you because of your unbeatable level of service. Use multi channels such as social media, advertising and email to expand your reach, extend your customer service and add even more value to your traditional hospitality.

How does your resort manage your relationship with OTAs? What are your doing to drive more direct bookings? Let us know in the comments below!


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  • Richard Thomas Mar 5th 2016 12:39am Bid on Brand - Do not pass go - Do not collect £200 - BID ON BRAND IN PPC!!! :) - I'm still staggered by those hotels not doing it... Some great tips btw - remarketing is a must too - but ultimately if that booking engine doesn't work as well as the OTA - your always going to be paying those affiliation costs
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