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Digital marketing tips for hotels

How hotels can compete with OTAs using digital marketing

The big players in the OTA industry are pouring thousands of dollars a day into digital marketing to ensure they stand at the top of search results pages. In this article we give tips on how hotels can compete with OTAs using digital marketing with just a moderate budget.

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Search engine marketing for hotels

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns are an effective way of reaching your target audience and if you choose keywords wisely you can avoid wasting your investment. Try the following techniques:

  • OTAs are known to invest in Google AdWords for individual hotel names taking places at the top of search page results above the actual property. By bidding on your hotel name you can help to combat the brand hijacking techniques of OTAs.
  • Avoid bidding on common and generic search terms such as “best hotels in Bali” in direct competition with more resourceful agencies.
  • Be specific and use long tail keywords that highlight your niche or your most popular amenity or service such as “hotel with a pool in Bangkok” or “hotel deals in Bali” or “Kuala Lumpur hotel with restaurant”. Long tail keywords are more commonly used by consumers when they are closer to decision making.

Hotel metasearch sites

Metasearch sites such as Trivago and Kayak pull hotel rates from all over the web and present them in one place to help consumers find the best deals. The problem with the majority of metasearch sites is that large OTAs have the resources to outbid independent hotels pushing the hotel’s own website further down the listing. Here are a few ways hotels can compete on metasearch sites:

  • Sign up for TripConnect Instant Booking from TripAdvisor. This is one of the few metasearch sites that lets you compete fairly with OTAs and allows you to have complete control over the booking. There is a 12-15% commission to pay TripAdvisor for each booking, but this is often considerably less than what OTAs charge.
  • Book on Google is another metasearch site that gives hotels more control than traditional metasearch sites. The difference with this method is that Google handles all the credit card payments.

Search engine optimization for hotels

OTAs are the masters of SEO, they use all the tools available to ensure they rank well such as having quality content on their site, maps, photos and other methods such as employing bloggers to continually write posts. It may seem a daunting task to compete with these practices, but there are steps your hotel can take to use SEO to your advantage:

  • Get a responsive website that meets the needs of today’s consumers who rely on smartphones to gather information and make bookings. Google’s algorithm gives priority to websites that are mobile-friendly and to those have fast page load speed.
  • Keep your SEO local. Google also introduced another algorithm that treats searches related to specific locations differently to non-local searches. From simple steps such as ensuring your hotel name and contact details are consistent across the web and introducing a blog or guide about the attractions and landmarks in your local area.

To summarize, there are digital marketing techniques that independent hotels can employ to grab attention of their target audience. By avoiding direct competition with OTAs, hotels can increase direct bookings and get a return for their investment.

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One thought on “How hotels can compete with OTAs using digital marketing

  1. It should also be a better method, for lesser financially heavy hotels, to use social media marketing to gain ground over OTA’s or huge chain hotel corporations. The playing field is a little more level as ads are targeted according to needs. Facebook for example.

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