Let me get this straight – Google is the new OTA. Ever since it added the instant booking option on its metasearch engine, hotels have the opportunity to increase their direct revenue at lower costs. According to a study, 54% travellers in China, 42% in Germany, 38% in France, 45% in the UK and 48% in the USA use metasearch engines to find the best hotel prices while booking. The bottom line is, you will be missing on a whole lot of potential guests if you don’t advertise on metasearch engines like Google and TripAdvisor. I’m writing this blog this fine evening to give you some tips to do exactly that.
In my experience, to be successful in digital you’ve to spend smartly, not more. Let’s dive in and see how you can put your money to good use.
- Make hotel rates lower than OTAs
OTAs dominate search rankings with their huge marketing spends. It’s rare to see a hotel on top in search results. Since they have very high Cost Per Click (CPC), it is tough to leapfrog them. But if there isn’t a lot of difference between the CPC, you can rise in rankings by lowering your room rates. Since the algorithm is designed to put lowest rates at the top, your hotel can be given preference – and that might give you the clicks you deserve.
- Customize strategies for different metasearch sites
Every metasearch engine has its own process of functioning. Let’s go through 2 major ones.
Google – I believe it is going to be the biggest player in travel search in the near future. Since the guest actually starts his or her journey on Google, it is a blunder to not advertise on the platform. While CPC model has been notoriously high, the recent commission based pricing (on confirmed bookings) is perfect for small hotels.
TripAdvisor – The existing dominant player, over 70% of travellers use this platform to compare and consult before making bookings. It acts more like an information avenue – guests don’t yet have the intention to book. The platform is ideal for brand awareness.
- Be mindful of changing designs
Metasearch platforms keep experimenting with their designs, schemes, algorithms, structure, etc. For example, the Google Hotel Ads blurb box has been shifted to the right from the left. Don’t take them lightly – they can have an impact on your clicks and conversions.
Such platforms may keep testing different ways to display hotel prices. Such changes will definitely impact your CPC. Also, make sure that the correct and updated information is available on the site.
- Make it a marketing channel
Viewing the platform as a marketing channel will help you get more direct bookings at a lower cost. It is an opportunity to position you on a level playing field with OTAs. Reviews are extremely important on a metasearch site. They are often pulled in from different sites and sources to offer an overall view of the hotel to the viewer. Make sure you have a strategy to keep improving such reviews.
- Experiment yourself!
As with all things digital, you can’t simply run an ad and just forget about it. Not just room availability checks and bid management, regular tests to maximize return on investment must be conducted. Such tests can include Return On Ad Spend (ROAS), monitoring conversion rates and trying different variations in CPC.
In the direct bookings war, you need to get all the weapons you can in your arsenal. Small hotels do not enjoy the same budgets as big chains and OTAs, but if you spend smartly online you can achieve more direct revenue. Since commissions are usually lesser than what you have to pay OTAs, it is more cost efficient as well at present. Make hay while the sun shines!
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