We spoke with Harry Fielder, director and head of business development at Umi digital to get his perspective on finding the right OTAs that will offer some lucrative marketing for your property.
Key benefits for using niche OTAs
It is efficiency of sales and improved customer. Booking.com now has over 950,000 properties of all sorts on their site and it is becoming cluttered. By identifying and exploiting a niche that attracts customers that love said niche, then it becomes a far more enjoyable experience for the customer and an ideal guest for the hotel. As a result of the higher levels of customer satisfaction, the hotel is also more likely to convert that guest into a direct booking in the future.
How can hoteliers decide on which ones to choose?
Ask for projected numbers – does the niche match the hotels belief in what they are? Can they easily receive enquiries or plug into their channel manager/current distribution systems etc? The decision really does need to come from the numbers and it is something that the potential OTA should be able to provide you. Remember you will also be able to measure the traffic that comes through to your website from the OTA, not just the bookings. Up to 85% of people that visit some OTA listings actually visit the website direct as well so you do still have the opportunity to capture them direct!
How niche is ‘too’ niche?
I don’t think you can be too niche. I think the challenge is understanding the niches, what the audience demographic is and how to get to them. If the niche is very small, perhaps you will need multiple providers to give you the volume that you need but. If possible, have a landing page on your website for each of the different niches and direct traffic to them accordingly.
How can the niche OTAs compete with the ‘big players’?
Smart marketing. You have one massive advantage over the big players and that is focus. Good old fashioned segmenting, targeting and positioning can go a very long way to communicate the right value proposition in the most effective way. The marketing, OTA, booking process and hotel product and of course the post stay experience needs to be consistently in line the initial value proposition.