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Online Booking Sites are Important to Your Marketing Strategy *

At the IAA Bed & Breakfast Association we believe it is important to include online channels in your online marketing plan, if you want to generate the highest possible revenues and increase your occupancy rates.

4 reasons why you should maximise the use of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs):

Travel consumer booking habits have changed

Today’s travellers want to book affordable accommodations, quickly and with minimal effort.  When planning a trip, 58% of travellers used OTA’s as their chosen search engine to research travel.  If your property is not listed with the major, or leading OTAs then you’re sacrificing a large portion of your potential online revenue.

Benefit from the billboard effect

The billboard effect refers to the boost in direct reservations a bed and breakfast experiences as a result of being listed on OTA websites.  OTAs like Booking.com have substantial marketing budgets and website traffic.  Aside from the bookings they generate for hotels, they also inadvertently help to direct “travel bookers” to a hotel’s individual websites.

A Cornell report showed that bed and breakfasts who list their rooms on OTAs also experience an increase in bookings made through their own bed and breakfast website.  In fact, the study showed up to a 26% increase in revenues earned from non-OTA channels just from being listed.  It goes without saying that the billboard effect will be more significant, the more popular the channel.

Paying commissions beats empty rooms

Many independent hoteliers hesitate to list their rooms on OTAs because of the commissions they have to pay.  Some may argue that 15-35% of your booking rate is a high price to pay.  However,  would you rather be earning 65% of your room rate, or 0% if your room sits empty?

The majority would obviously rather earn money from their rooms, which is another important reason to include OTAs in your hotel’s distribution strategy.  Connecting to multiple OTAs, helps you maximize your online exposure.

Metasearch engines are popular

As you have probably heard, metasearch engines like HotelsCombined, Google Hotel Finder and TripAdvisor are becoming more popular with travellers, as they collect all available online room rates in a single list.  The same MMGY Global/Harrison Group study showed that an increasing number of US travellers are using metasearch engines to book travel.  And this number will just keep growing.

Over the coming months, we predict that one particular metasearch engine will greatly increase in popularity; TripAdvisor.

TripAdvisor combines trusted consumer reviews with a comprehensive list of rates from a variety of OTAs, making it a one-stop shop for consumers booking travel.  Why would you go anywhere else given the option of a single site for booking start to finish?  This is definitely one metasearch OTA that we suggest including in your online marketing strategy.