Grow your sales with the Tourism Exchange
Tourism NI has partnered with TXGB to give businesses better access to online sales channels at lower commission rates, so you can promote your offering cost-effectively and drive more direct bookings.
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Online Travel Agents (OTAs) are often a go-to for visitors before they make their final choice of where to stay in Northern Ireland.
These third party booking agents allow you to list your product on their sites and facilitate the bookings through them e.g. Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia.com and Trivago.com, as well as local operators. However, ensure that you are comfortable with their commission rates, and terms and conditions.
Increasingly users are turning to OTAs to book things to do so it is important for attractions, experiences, activities and tours to be listed on the sites relevant to them.
They make their money from commissions, and their rates vary from 10% to 30% of the holidaymaker’s stay. Depending on the OTA you are going to work with, you need to be sure that this investment is a good strategy in relation to your business needs.
Before you decide whether or not to use these channels there are some facts (rather than myths) you should consider:
All of that said, property owners need to weigh-up all of the disadvantages against the advantages of these OTA’s actually delivering bookings.
Reality is that as an industry we should see the OTA’s as partners and not something to fight against. We just need to ensure we contract correctly and don’t give too much away.
OTA’s are affectively a search engine and if customers do browse on Booking.com or Expedia there is also a high possibility (some say over 80%) that they will come to your own site to check rates. This is where we as property owners need to be clever:
Meta Sites, such as Trivago, Travelsupermarket.com, Skyscanner, TripAdvisor and Cheapflights basically are price comparison sites and they will crawl other OTA websites and present your properties price on 5 or 6 channels to a customer so they can see which OTA is displaying the best price. As you can see, having Rate Parity on all OTA channels is important. If you want your own brand website to be presented to the customer, you need to pay. This payment is on a Pay Per Click basis and you pay that Meta Site whether a booking is actually made or not.
The advantage is that you have less of a risk of being booked on an OTA which the Meta Site has displayed if your brand site is shown, but you also risk being charged a fee for a click that doesn’t actually convert to a booking
The world of the OTA’s, Meta-Sites and the impact of other booking sources such as AirBnB is changing almost daily. However, what we as an industry need to realise is that they are here to stay and the impact of these channels is something we can’t afford to ignore.
This event took place as part of the Tourism Enterprise Development (TED) Programme at the Clandeboye Lodge Hotel. Delegates heard from a number of OTAs and Bedbank distributors along with advice on the importance of managing and protecting your online reputation.