Attract and convert visitors into reservations through the hotel’s website remains a major concern for hoteliers versus Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). Alberto Scappini and Pedro Carmona, Innwise Direct Channel experts, analyze the hotel distribution prospects.
Both experts agree that OTAs have a longer range than hotel websites when it come to reservations. Primarily it is an economic issue. “It is very simple to have an OTA advertised on any media, especially in Internet where they dominate the search engines (the same as Google with PPC), than on the direct channel.
OTAs are pioneers and master the different ways to capture the final customer. For example: they create domains very similar to the hotels so that customers fall into the trap and end up on their website, even if they didn’t want to , “says Carmona. Scappini ensures that the direct channel impact “is more limited.” Meanwhile, OTAs may be useful for travellers from more distant markets.
Moreover, the main challenge of hotel distribution is to set a fixed budget for everything associated with the implementation. “The challenge is to define a Direct channel distribution cost based on the investment carried out (online marketing campaigns, booking engine etc..)” he explains
Carmona also hints of the limited safety guarantees and the negative appearance that some hotel websites offer when coming to encouraging reservations through their websites. “The end users still don’t completely trust the direct channel as a way to reserve because they have a negative visual aspect and they don’t offer security in data transaction.”
The specialist points out, however, that the Online Travel Agencies are very effective in capturing user attention. Regarding this, they make a big difference with respect to the direct channel. Making reservations is a ‘competition’ among travellers. ” They start to bombard you with different action calls such as: Only 2 rooms available, 35 people are viewing the same hotel at the same time, the last reservation was made 10 minutes ago or the destination Madrid is at 75% occupancy on this date.”
On the other hand, Scappini believes that the best distribution technique is the one that is able to find the balance between direct and indirect channels. A good example of this strategy is the Billboard effect.
Billboard effect refers to a technique based on betting for good visibility in the OTAs pages because this has a direct impact on visits to the establishment’s website. ” Although there are different opinions about the impact of this effect, it creates an increase in traffic on the hotel website. If you have a suitable website and reservation engine, perhaps part of these visits will convert into reservations on the official website and not through online travel agencies, “he concludes.