Mobile Why Travellers Prefer OTAs Over Brand Websites

What hotels can do to compete with OTAs for more direct bookingsDespite having shook hands with OTAs to catalyse bookings, hotels are in a constant mute war with OTAs to grab more and more bookings to minimize the revenue sharing. There are many reasons why OTAs can grab far more share (approx. 60%) of bookings than hotel website. The primary factor being that OTAs are among the top search results for all leading hotel search keywords or even long tail keywords. Since OTA websites outrank hotel website, visitors are more likely to visit them. Once the visitor lands on an OTA website, chances are he may book from the OTA website itself without even checking the hotel website. There are several reasons why customers prefer OTAs over brand websites. Let us discuss a few of them.1. Difference in prices – It has been observed that OTAs are able to provide small to heavy discounts throughout the year. Cash burning by OTAs makes it nearly impossible for hotels to divert bookings to their own website. This practice works no less than a honey trap for OTAs to clinch more bookings than hotel websites at any given day. And, a reason for Rate parity war between hotels and OTAs.

2. User interface – User interface plays a very important role in any e-commerce business. Great UI can do wonders, whereas a poor UI can turn away traffic, no matter how good a deal you are offering. In case of hotels, it becomes even more important since the guest has to check various kind of information before making a booking like check-in and out times, amenities, reviews, location, nearby attractions, distance from airports, railway stations, photographs of the property, etc. OTA websites and apps have very friendly and intuitive interface that lists down all the information about a property in a comprehensive manner without having the visitor to take pain to check the hotel website. Unlike OTA websites, most hotel websites generally have poor UI and UX.3. Trust on OTAs – OTAs have earned themselves a bigger and trusted image in the market among the customers. OTAs have made dealing with a new or a lesser-known hotel absolutely safe, since in this scenario, it is the OTA that has to forge booking promises. People even like to make payments through OTA websites since they find them more secure, unlike hotel websites with outdated technologies.4. Poor IT and Technology Capabilities – Many hotels still fail to update prices on their websites as regularly as compared to OTAs that change prices in real time and frequently. Due to this, the rates on hotel website remain same most of the time making it irrelevant for customers to pay more even in off seasons. Hotels need to be more technology pro, to gain a strong footing in the market when they decide to compete with OTAs.5. One OTA, multiple bookings – A visitor might be on a multiple destination trip requiring him to book different hotels at different destinations. To cut the clutter and ease of use, he can use a single OTA app to make all the bookings. This lets him review and modify his bookings as and when required without having to access multiple hotel websites. On top of it, hardly 1-2% hotels have their mobile apps or mobile friendly websites that makes their mobile experience even worse. Therefore, a single OTA with rich UI across devices is the first choice of any traveller.6. Flexible use of Loyalty benefits – Booking through OTAs makes sure that the customer can use his/her loyalty points one way or the other. Loyalty points rewarded by OTAs for booking one hotel can be redeemed for booking any other hotel unlike the case when somebody books on a specific hotel’s own website. Moreover, some OTAs are into various other services like Airline Booking, Bus Bookings etc. that provides the customer even more avenues to utilize their loyalty benefits. However, hotels also have their own loyalty programs and Close User Group Programs (CUG), they need to market it strongly to get maximum benefit from them.

Owing to the above factors, it is clear that the hotel need to be more advanced in their approach to tap travellers if they want to beat OTAs. Hotels need to work on various fronts, specifically websites to make customers choose their website over OTAs. The road seems tough though with OTAs having a bigger say, but not impossible. One plus that hotels have over OTAs is that the customer experience that they offer in the hotel and this needs to be reflected on their website as well since it is the first look of the hotel even before the guest visits the property.