4 Key Strategies to Shift Bookings from OTA to Direct - Part 1
As OTAs increasingly use aggressive marketing techniques, hoteliers are at risk of losing a significant share of their total reservations to third parties. Hoteliers 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 hotels, offering an immense opportunity to enhance direct revenue while lowering the cost of distribution. Milestone works with over 2000 independent hotels and brands to drive higher direct revenue and shift market share from OTAs and other third parties by using the same technologies that are deployed by larger travel websites. Here are first two top strategies that are most effective in driving direct business:
1. Website technology
Hotels 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 hotel 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. Having basic schemas such as your address information or your basic business information is not enough, hotels must mark up most of the content on the website to gain better optimization for voice search as well as the latest search algorithms. 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 hotels 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.
- Revenue recovery technology
- Effective use of revenue recovery technology on your website further enhances conversion and revenue generation. One key technique is to send email campaigns to customers who visited your site but didn't book. OTAs are experts at persistently reaching out to customers who abandoned their website. Milestone's CMS provides the necessary technology to allow our hotels to reach back out to the guests who didn't book on their site.
2. 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 hotels 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.
This series provides insights into four of the key strategies deployed by Milestone to increase direct bookings for our customers. Part two of the series will detail two more strategies that hotels can implement for immediate results. To get more details and deeper insights, please contact us at 1-866-615-2516 so that we can make the same shift happen on your properties.