Online Travel Agents or OTAs have become a common step in the process of booking a holiday. They provide convenience for the user because they allow you to search hotels in a trusted environment with plenty of variety and detail on each hotel. They provide a great one-stop shop for a consumer who wants to go to a certain location but is unsure of what hotel to choose.
Until recently, OTAs were rising in popularity for hotels too. They provided an obvious opportunity for promotion and a way to generate bookings without having to do your own online promotion. But things are starting to change.
A recent report by Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne and RateTiger suggests that hotels are refocusing on direct sales. It found that OTAs generate the majority of hotel bookings at 35% at the moment. However, the same hotels also reported their intention to move away from OTAs in favor of direct bookings.
Hotels Are Moving Away From OTAs
This apparent change in marketing strategy comes on the back of increased competition amongst OTAs and a greater need to reduce costs among hotels. This should lead hotels towards greater use of social media and tools like Facebook Hotel Booking Engines.
One of the key challenges for hotels highlighted in the report is the need to reduce costs. Using social media above OTAs has obvious advantages in this area. Social media offers zero or low cost, engagement, interaction and brand awareness. Hotels who use social media effectively create direct interest in their own websites, generating commission free bookings in the process.
Social media provides the ideal opportunity for hotels to build awareness. Social media is all about interaction and engagement. Businesses who are successful on social media place their brand within conversations potential customers are already having. So if you run a ski lodge, getting involved in social media groups that discuss skiing is bound to generate interest.
The advantage this gives a hotel over OTAs is that it allows the hotel to move up one step in a prospective clients planning process. With an OTA, clients go there when they’ve already decided when and where they want to go on holiday and are looking to fill in the details. With social media, a hotel can get into a prospective clients thinking before any particular holiday plan has been made.
Going back to the ski lodge example. Imagine a prospect is considering a holiday and looking at options, while on a social network they notice a post about your hotel. They see that hotel has been ‘liked’ by a friend. They already have trusted reason to consider your location and your hotel first, before other decisions have even been considered.
Facebook Hotel Booking Engines Provide an Extra Advantage
Once your social media interaction has generated that interest, the key is getting the client to follow through and make the booking. This area is where OTAs regularly succeed, because when someone is on an OTA site a booking is what they want. But Facebook hotel booking engines give the advantage back to social media.
As you may have guessed from the name, these tools allow Facebook users to book the hotel directly through the social network. This provides a number of advantages for a hotel. In our ski example, a regular skier books through your Facebook hotel booking engine and the booking is posted to their timeline. Their ski enthusiast friends will see your hotel, endorsed by a trusted source, before they’ve even considered a holiday themselves. Or if they are considering a holiday, they are just a few clicks away from completing a booking.
That early involvement in the process is something OTAs can never reach. Effective use of social media could mean your hotel can gather its business, long before your prospects have looked at OTAs. RateTigers research found that the majority of hotels, 31%, expect to focus on social media in the future. With tools like Facebook hotel booking engines, it’s easy to see why social media stands out above OTA.
Do you want to begin promoting your hotel on Facebook, but need some advice on how to do this? A Hotel’s Guide to Facebook – will give you some suggestions. Download our free white paper on a hotel’s guide to facebook. Click here to download.