We think hoteliers would all agree that OTA bookings are a real drag.
- Highway Robbery: 15-25% commission per reservation. (Ouch!)
- Digital Dominance: They are spending billions of dollars annually on SEO, ensuring travelers continue to book on their platforms. (Bullies.)
- Behind your back: They’ve started cutting into their commission to go out of parity and undersell what you offer on your site. (The nerve!)
- In bed with the chains: Independent hotels don’t have the critical mass to negotiate lower margins like the chains have recently done. (Not fair.)
- Loyal to no one: Guests that book via OTA are typically more rate-conscious than direct bookers and are less likely to remain loyal in the future. (Fair weather fans.)
- Email hogs: OTAs withhold guests’ email addresses, preventing any future attempts to market to them directly. (Oink oink!)
A real drag, indeed. But on the other hand, OTAs excel at filling rooms when you need them, with many hotels relying on 3rd party channels for more than 50% of overall business. As a responsible hotelier, you’d be crazy not to include 3rd parties in your distribution strategy; after all, 80% of a booked room is better than 0% of a vacant one. Yes, they’ve got us hooked. Now, let’s make the best of it.
Stash helps with conversion
An OTA brought them in the door, now it’s time to turn on the charm and focus your efforts towards converting them into a loyal, direct-booking guest. Start by enrolling them in your loyalty program. We’ve got an ‘OTA conversion’ tool embedded into the Front Desk Hub that allows you to enroll your OTA guests and offer double points if they return within 6 months and book through an eligible channel (we’ll send them a reminder about the offer two months after they depart). Plus, qualified enrollments earn PERK points for your GSAs and ensure you will capture their email address (Stash ID) for future use in your own marketing efforts.
Partner Hotels do pay for those added points (which still beats any OTA margin), so we need your permission to activate the tool. But, it’s an excellent way to turn the tables in your favor and start to think of those pesky OTAs more like acquisition tools. In fact, our data shows that 80% of returning guests that were signed up using the tool book through an eligible channel when they return.
More ways to put up a fight
Be sure to check out how Greg Nawrocki at the Hotel Providence goes a step further by slipping a letter under the door of OTA guests encouraging them to enroll, while adding a discounted promo code to ensure they book directly the next time they are in town.
And there’s more you can do with Stash to dissuade prospective guests from booking your rooms on an OTA. Member Rates are an excellent way to beat the OTAs at their own game. Discounted rates don’t violate parity agreements as long as they are associated with a loyalty program. A guest comparing multiple sites will find that yours offers the best value: a lower rate and the ability to earn Stash points.
Speak with your PA to learn more about how Stash can help fight OTA dominance and drive guests toward low-cost booking channels. We can activate the OTA tool with the flip of a switch and can help you set up Member Rates in a flash.