The billboard effect has been a buzzword in the hotel industry for over ten years and has since become an integral part of every book direct strategy. So, what is the billboard effect? The billboard effect occurs when a traveller discovers a property through an online travel agent (OTA) and then searches for the property’s website to book direct. Some of the most popular OTAs include Booking.com, Expedia and Agoda.
Modern-day travellers research their travel online and find OTAs an easy way to compare hotels in a local area. Google has found that over half of travellers visit a hotel’s website after seeing it listed on an OTA website. This presents an opportunity for accommodation providers that should not be missed.
There is an age-old debate among property managers regarding the benefits of listing through OTAs versus the high commissions and lack of ROI. Regardless of your stance on OTAs, these listings are also a huge opportunity to increase your digital presence and showcase your accommodation to thousands of potential guests who otherwise would never get to see your amazing property.
How to take advantage of the billboard effect
Incentivize direct bookings
Give potential guests a reason to book directly through your website. Many OTAs capture bookings through attractive rates and convenience. So, why not offer 10% off for all direct bookings? If your rates are the same across your OTA listings and website, you could encourage guests to join a free loyalty program and continue to market to your return guests through this channel.
An alternative incentive could simply be a gift on arrival, such as a welcome drink. List the offer on your website’s home page so it’s the first thing travellers will draw their attention to when they arrive on your site.
How do you increase direct bookings? Your website is a 24/7 selling tool, so make sure it’s responsive and user-friendly, or you could be missing out on direct bookings! An accommodation website should be modern, user-friendly, and provide guests with a streamlined booking experience. As of 2021, approximately 70% of travelers researched their travel on their smartphones. This means a responsive website is now a non-negotiable.
If your website isn’t easy to use, travelers will head back and book through the OTA (leaving you with less revenue). The strongest call to action on your website is the book now button – ensure that it’s visible on every page to start converting more bookings.
Optimize your listings across OTAs
In many cases, your listing on an OTA is the first impression a potential guest has of your property. Keeping this in mind, you should treat all OTA listings as an extension of your brand. Use high-quality professional images that represent your property and the experiences that you offer. Showcase what makes your property unique!
Managing multiple listings across OTAs can be time-consuming. Using a channel manager to sync rates and availability with your property management system will streamline this process and save you hours of admin time. This will also give you peace of mind that double bookings are unlikely to occur.
Choose the right OTAs
Many OTAs have high commission costs, with the industry average being between 15% and 30% of the booking cost. Therefore, if your property relies on OTA’s for the majority of your bookings, this can significantly impact your overall revenue.
Think about your target audience and where they’re researching travel, and list only on the OTA’s that are most suited for your unique property. It’s important to consider OTAs in your overall revenue management strategy.
Don’t miss out on abandoned bookings
Don’t miss out on these potential bookings! These guests may have stopped the booking due to time constraints, or maybe your booking process wasn’t straightforward. With an abandoned cart tracking feature, you can automate emails with a booking link to be sent to guests who have started the booking process but have not completed it. You can also target website visitors through retargeting ads, so your ads will appear when they’re online or on social media sites. Visibility and communication will keep you in the mind of your potential guests.
Want to learn more about listing on online travel agents? Increase your online visibility, plus sync your availability and rates with NewBook.