A very useful exercise which all hoteliers should be doing on a regular basis is searching for their hotel brand name online and monitoring those results. With so many travel websites, it may seem like an arduous task but it doesn't have to be. If the responsibility is shared across staff members in your hotel the task will become less daunting and you'll be more effective at spotting inconsistencies and mistakes.
When was the last time you searched for your hotel on the most popular OTA sites?
When you find your listing, are you happy with how your hotel is being represented?
Here are some crucial details you should look out for:
- Rate – It only takes a few minutes to spot check a few dates to ensure the rate is showing correctly. It is well known that OTA's can manipulate rates for their benefit by taking a hit on their own commission levels, however, this causes rate disparities and can negatively impact business for your own direct channel.
- Close Outs – Make sure that your peak dates and close out dates are being managed correctly; on key dates, only your direct website should have availability.
- Images – Ensure all your current images are being displayed with up-to-date branding
- Room Types – Some sites will change a room type name, for example, they might call a standard room a 'deluxe' room, or they may be selling a room type that you had previously requested to be removed. It's very important to have consistency with how you phrase room types from a consumer's perspective.
- Hotel Description – Ensure that all the information on display is accurate. More importantly, make sure you keep the description different to the content on your own website. Otherwise, you can be penalised for duplicate content by Google. Ideally, you have a description which you share with all your OTA's and a separate, more detailed version which you keep for your own website.
- Monitor Your Online Identity
Another key factor to monitor is which sites your hotel is appearing on. It is useful to become familiar with which wholesalers are supplying which sites especially on Metasearch sites such as Kayak and TripAdvisor, as this is where many rate issues occur for hotels.
If you are not satisfied with the rates or the way your hotel is presented on a site then you are entitled to request it gets removed. Hotels are now becoming more assertive in their position to protect their hotel's online identity.
Use Your Book Direct Strategy
If you see that another website is consistently and aggressively bidding against your brand name then you should ensure your 'book direct' strategy is in place and is strong. When other sites bid aggressively on your brand name, it drives up the cost of your own campaigns in turn increasing the cost of traffic from these channels.
Google Hotel Ads which display across google search, display and google map networks is also a place you should check regularly for any rate disparities. If the rates are not accurate or appear to have been manipulated, it should be investigated by your OTA (Online Travel Agent) point of contact.
Are You Checking Your Own Site?
Finally, and most importantly, make sure you are looking at your own site. Is all the content including images up-to-date? Review how your own rates are displaying on your site. It's recommended to use the 'total price' strategy for all rate plans and packages as it improves the customers' ability to make a quick comparison and there are no unwanted surprises at checkout.
Data from our own client studies show that hotels who adopt the 'total pricing' method (either per room, per night or total stay) convert at a 20% higher conversion rate than hotels using the per person pricing method (either per person, per person sharing or per person per night).
Devise Best Practices For Your Hotel
Don't let the array of sites and platforms daunt you, instead let it challenge you to form best practices when it comes to making these checks regularly. Get your hotel team onboard with taking ownership of your hotel brand's online presence and you'll be surprised at the results.
You'll know it's working when your team are becoming as frustrated as you when they find issues; such as discovering an unknown website selling your hotel rooms at discounted rates that were not agreed.
Let's face it, you'll never have complete visibility on all sites at all times but that is not a reason not to take action now. The more of a handle you have on your hotel's online presence, the lower the chance that these discrepancies will happen.
Net Affinity is an Independent Digital Agency providing Revenue Generating Solutions for Hotels. Our services include Website Design, Digital Marketing and Booking Engine Technology. Our culture of award winning design and innovation together with a keen eye for emerging trends allows us to deliver services that directly impact on growing revenue for our clients. As experienced hoteliers we have a genuine and wholehearted passion in providing a complete customer centric service to our customers. We pride ourselves on the development of a relationship that allows us to nurture your business and ensure our success is your success.