How do you undercut OTAs without jeopardizing your relationship?

Each month, we ask hoteliers around the world to submit their burning questions to our very own panel of trusted hospitality experts, the Hotel Heroes.

This month, they were quizzed about OTA relationships, loyalty, user-generated content and budgeting for metasearch. Read on to see their responses - and submit a question to next month's panel!




How can independents and smaller hotel brands offer a better price than OTAs without jeopardizing their relationship?

Answered by Hotel Hero Inderpreet Banga, Vice President, Channel & Distribution Strategy at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts:


It is all about value proposition and value creation. If you can do that well (e.g. by highlighting your direct booking benefits), you might not need to provide any additional discounts to get the customer.

However, if you decide to undercut an OTA, the most efficient way to do that without jeopardizing the relationship is to get a customer's email address and send out your cheaper price directly to them or retarget the user with price-led retargeting ads.

In addition, there are ways to show your cheaper rates outside of the booking engine. For example, Triptease's Targeted Messages allow you to segment your website messages to target specific audiences. Triptease's Direct Booking Coaches can help you find the best solution for your hotel.


Rob Paterson

Answered by Hotel Hero Rob Paterson, CEO at Best Western GB:


In my opinion, many OTAs have demonstrated a spirit of bad partnership by showing discounted room prices on their own channels and, with that, continuously undercutting their partner hotels. That's why independent operators needn't be too concerned about ruining their relationship - it has often already been jeopardized by OTAs!
In terms of ensuring that your ranking doesn't suffer as a consequence, there are ways to discount direct but still maintain a price that's in parity with OTAs. For example, you can add on breakfast to your direct booking offer.



What innovative guest benefits would you recommend to a hotel that does not have a loyalty program?

Answered by Hotel Hero Blessy Townes, Vice President & Head of Digital at Discovery Hospitality:


You can provide alternative rewards such as exclusive experiences, concert tickets, backstage access to performances, city tours, VIP passes to local festivals... Think outside the box!







Rob Paterson

Answered by Hotel Hero Rob Paterson, CEO at Best Western GB:


Loyalty programs are costly to implement and have questionable impact. Investing the same money in personalized rewards for your regular guests can drive more loyalty than a faceless program ever will!

You can surprise your guests with their favourite bottle of wine, personalise their stay with a handwritten note, gift them their favourite chocolate... Get to know your guests and make their stay truly personal!


Answered by Hotel Hero Inderpreet Banga, Vice President, Channel & Distribution Strategy at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts:


Again, it is all about value creation that drives the guest to book direct. Some hotels offer a couple of free drinks at the bar or a free bottle of water, but you can also come up with more creative offers. It depends on what is important to your respective guest demographic.


How can independent hotels with small marketing budgets leverage user-generated content (UGC) without having to purchase rights to images?

Answered by Hotel Hero Blessy Townes, Vice President & Head of Digital at Discovery Hospitality:


Build a strong relationship with bloggers and influencers - they can be your brand advocates. Do active social listening and engage with your guests on social media. For UGC, seek permission directly from users and don't forget to give proper credit - this way, you don't have to purchase the rights!



Would you consider shifting a brand term pay-per-click (PPC) campaign budget to metasearch?

Answered by Hotel Hero Blessy Townes, Vice President & Head of Digital at Discovery Hospitality:


It depends on which campaign drives and influences conversion for your hotel. At Discovery Hospitality, a brand term PPC campaign delivers higher conversion and ROI, so we’ll retain the current setup.


Dr Jan Sammeck

Answered by Hotel Hero Dr. Jan Sammeck, Director E-Commerce at Deutsche Hospitality:

No, I wouldn't advise it. For Deutsche Hospitality, brand term PPC is still the leading source for qualified traffic and has the best cost/revenue ratio of all online marketing strategies!
However, you shouldn't think about this issue as either/or. Think of metasearch as an additional revenue driver on top of brand term PPC, where you can allocate funds as long as your threshold cost-of-sale is not exceeded. The budget vs. cost-of-sale approach to online marketing has been discussed extensively. You can find out more in the webinar recording, in which I and Charlie Osmond, Chief Tease at Triptease, talked about the twelve most damaging mistakes hotels are making in metasearch.



Answered by Hotel Hero Inderpreet Banga, Vice President, Channel & Distribution Strategy at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts:


It all depends on the market. In some markets, your presence on metasearch might not be impactful as brand term PPC in terms of conversion. To find out what works for you, you'll have to adapt a test-and-learn approach. The good news is, using Google's AdWords has become easier to use for hotels now that Google has combined all its programs in one place.


About The Author

Alisa is Triptease's brand guardian. She speaks four languages and uses them to interview thought leaders and write articles for the industry.

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