If there’s one debate in the hotel industry that’s likely to rage on, it’s about the effectiveness and practices of online travel agencies (OTAs).
Only, we’re not here to fight that battle either way – we’d much rather help ambitious independent hoteliers and accommodation providers make the most of their presences on such sites.
If you work hard on your Booking.com, Expedia or [insert any other OTA in here] listing, you’ll end up getting more bookings from those sources – it’s that simple.
Here’s five tried-and-tested ways to maximise your hotel’s presence on any OTA.

1. Make sure your PMS is connected

Modern hospitality software includes two-way interfaces to major OTAs, and this offers two very compelling benefits:

  • Your rates and availability will always be up-to-date on those websites; and
  • Any bookings made on OTAs are automatically inserted into your system.

OTAs love to receive regular updates on rates and availability. If you’re currently doing this manually via their extranets, you’re not only wasting time but reducing your chances of a high listing if you forget to keep everything up-to-date.

2. Update your content regularly

Adding your hotel to an OTA and setting up the profile isn’t a one-off routine – it’s something you need to do regularly.
As your hotel evolves, so too should your OTA listings. That means regularly updating photos, descriptions and amenities. 
There’s no telling how this impacts your ranking on each OTA (they tend to keep that kind of thing close to their chest), but it’s a safe bet they’ll take more interest in ‘active’ hotels.

3. Ensure rate parity

This is a simple one, regardless of your views on the topic.
As it stands, rate parity is something hoteliers need to abide by within the contracts of most OTA listings.
That means ensuring prices are the same across the board, no matter the websites on which they’re listed. There’s heavy penalties to be had for non-parity, so it’s not worth risking.

4. Play to each OTA’s strengths

Some OTAs are masters at getting you short-notice bookings, which is great for distressed room inventory, while others are great for higher value bookings.
Use your OTAs wisely and play to their strengths. If you’re lucky enough to have a decent amount of rooms, make sure you’re strategic with how they’re distributed to each website depending on demand, distress levels and market conditions.

5. Meet regularly with your account manager

Most OTAs will provide one-to-one account managers. If you have one – use it.
These people are there to help you get the most from the OTA in question, so ensure you have at least one monthly meeting with them (be it in-person or remote) and go armed each time with as many questions as you can think of to help you maximise your presence.

Final tip

Just remember the golden hotelier rule: when you receive a booking via an OTA, do everything you can to ensure that guest wants to return and make sure they can do so by booking directly on your own website.
OTAs remain brilliant introducers of business. Just make sure that business returns via a direct route once you’ve paid the commission bill.

CMS Hospitality holds over 30 years of experience in delivering hospitality software solutions. GuestCentrix offers the most complete solution in hospitality software, whether you’re running a hotel, a resort or a hostel. Our highly experienced support and installations team holds a unique understanding of the hospitality industry and will aim to provide software that suits your property’s needs.

Call us today at (+61) 2 9440 9711, or email us at sales@cmshospitality.com. We will be happy to guide you to the GuestCentrix solution that’s right for you.