Yes, OTAs are incredibly popular. But, as online reputation management company Revinate points out, they’re often the travel equivalent of Yellow Pages. Customers are initially using them to just research hotels’ rates and availability, without actually booking on them. If you can establish a social media relationship with customers at this point, you could still encourage them to book with you direct.
Revinate observes, “Above all, hotels should have direct access to their website from all review sites (TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc.) and OTAs where possible. Additional investment in services like TripAdvisor’s Business Listings will lead to more direct reservations. This will guide browsing customers not only to your website but also to your social channels where you can communicate with them in unique ways.”
The ideal seems to be to “capture” customers’ interest via social media channels like Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter and then use these to keep their interest, preventing them from going back to the OTAs: “If you have given them a “friends” rate or just made booking easy from social channels, you can avoid OTA fees. Good social media engagement with all fans and followers will increase this effect.”
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