Using an Online Travel Agency (OTA) to book a hotel room rather than booking directly with a hotel occurs for a number of different reasons. Since hoteliers want as many direct bookings as possible as to not lose a percentage to OTAs, these reasons should be taken into account to further accommodate consumers booking online. Phocuswright and Expedia recently published a whitepaper, Where Consumers Shop For Online Travel, that features the top ten reasons why travelers chose to book through an OTA rather than directly with a hotel:
1. The website is easy to use. An intuitive website that that is quick and easy to navigate is what travelers are looking for when booking a room.
2. They are used to booking travel this way. Numerous hotel brands have generated direct booking campaigns to make a push to change this.
3. They trust the brand. Even if a traveler finds a hotel by means of an OTA, once they stay at an establishment it is up to the establishment to gain their trust and hopefully get the direct booking the next time around.
4. OTAs typically have the best prices. Regularly monitoring the hotel website prices in comparison to the prices on OTA sites will enable hoteliers to remain competitive and not lose out on direct bookings.
5. It is easy to book all your travel in one place. This is a selling point, but a solid incentive to book direct may change the traveler’s desire to book through an OTA.
6. That website had the most selection. This is another selling point for using an OTA. Again, even if a consumer finds a hotel through an OTA, it is up to the hotel to remain in the forefront of their minds to lead to a direct booking on their next stay.
7. It’s easier to change/cancel the booking. This is something hotel brands can take into consideration to get more direct bookings. For example, this could be a feature in a direct booking campaign which could certainly strike the interest of travelers.
8. They like the OTAs’ mobile apps. Hotel brands can learn from this and make an effort to make their own mobile apps clean, professional and easy-to-use.
9. They couldn’t find what they wanted to book anywhere else. There are numerous ways hotels can make themselves more visible online.
10. They are members of that OTA’s loyalty program. Offering a competitive loyalty program can help to catch the eye of consumers who find this to be important.
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