ResConnect, is our Channel Manager programme available FREE to our customers.
ResConnect connects your rooms, rates, and availability from ResRequest to online travel platforms so you can sell Direct, via OTAs, and via Travel Agents. Connecting to these online travel platforms is valuable as they specialise in electronic marketing and selling your rooms.
What is an OTA?
Online Travel Agents (OTAs) are third parties who sell travel services, especially accommodation, on behalf of suppliers. An OTA provides a platform for travellers to compare hotel prices and make bookings from the comfort of their homes. OTAs aggregate rates and availability and make their revenue by charging suppliers a commission for sales completed on their platform. They also make their revenue by offering to advertise properties listed on their platform.
Large hotel groups have been building their own branded platforms so they have a lower reliance on OTAs; however, many independent hotels still rely heavily on OTA bookings and visibility. The latter is especially relevant following a 2022 survey highlighting that one-fifth of US travellers said researching their travel on an OTA platform is currently their preferred method of travel research.
What benefits can OTAs offer you?
- Increase your exposure. OTAs have become popular over time as they invest in SEO and Google Ads to ensure top search performance. This results in them offering accommodation providers huge exposure due to the volumes they attract. This is known as ‘the billboard effect’ which is a phenomenon that occurs when accommodation providers see an increase in direct bookings after listing on an OTA. Statistics show that the billboard effect is still generating direct revenues for many listed properties. Read more about using the billboard effect to your advantage.
- Build your brand. OTAs act as a review platform as they give travellers the opportunity to rate their stay. This gives new customers the confidence to book your establishment.
- Competitive pricing. Something OTAs have become very good with is providing travellers with comparison shopping. By grouping competitor listings in search results, online shoppers can easily compare value and price. This means you need to review your rates and service offerings regularly in order to be competitive on OTAs – which is the reason many customers like to outsource the management of OTA channels.
- Increase buying desire. To entice travellers to book on the OTA, not only to use it for research, many OTAs now offer loyalty discounts for bookings. OTAs are also very adept at countering buyer’s remorse, for example: by showing that other people have bought similar rooms available in the area, or by reinforcing the fact that the traveller has made an excellent choice (tools to be mindful of when selling directly from your own website).
- Access to insights. Many OTAs provide tools and analytics for insights like performance on the OTA’s search engine and comparisons like price and availability with competitor establishments. These are available to listed properties.
What to be aware of when working with OTAs
- OTAs prefer an electronic connection with your PMS/CRS and their system (we provide direct connections to the most popular OTAs).
- You will generally be charged a commission for bookings created via the OTA. Commissions vary anywhere from 5% to 25% of the gross cost depending on the location, demand, booking platform, and other factors determined by the OTA.
- Commercial terms often require price parity i.e. you are generally not permitted to sell bednights on another public channel at a price lower than the OTA can sell your room.
- Incentivising direct bookings made on your own website by providing add-ons is a great way to encourage direct business; however, check that this does not conflict with any commercial terms with the OTAs you work with.
- Cancellation terms may be determined by the OTA which means that they may not always align with your terms and conditions.
The most popular OTAs are Booking.com and Expedia’s Hotels.com. Signing up with these OTAs will generally also attract visibility across several platforms in the groups. The Expedia Group includes Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Vrbo, Egencia, Hotwire, Wotif, and others. The Booking.com Group includes Booking.com, Agoda, and others.
When considering which OTAs to use, ask questions like:
- Platform. Take a look at the OTA platform and its partners. Explore the appeal of the search engine and the platform for the customers you want to attract.
- Audience. Check that the OTA channel attracts your preferred traveller.
- Automation. Check that the OTA integrates to ResRequest to avoid manual updates.
- Commercials. Contact the platform to check if the commercial terms are acceptable.
Where does Google Hotels fit in?
Google is technically not an OTA because the model is a “pay for performance” model, however, its’ presence in travel search listing may result in a potentially large shift in the OTA space. Expect a lot more specials and loyalty programmes from traditional OTAs as they strive to stay competitive.
What are some OTA operational considerations?
There are typically no upfront fees to list rooms. OTAs make money when rooms are booked by collecting a percentage of the gross value of each reservation.
The OTA provides an opportunity for you to list your accommodation with descriptions, photos, nearby points of interest, and more. Most OTAs require that you create this detail on their platform, including keywords for filters that will display your property for the best match.
Most OTAs cater to the sale of bednights with different meal plans. These meal plans are generally set up as different rate types e.g. Bed and Breakfast or Bed Only.
Payment options are determined by the OTA and the integration supported by ResRequest with the respective OTA. Typically there are two payment options: Pay the OTA who reimburses the property or pay the property directly.
By linking your OTA connections to ResRequest you can automatically send your rates and availability to the OTA and receive bookings from the OTA into ResRequest.
The difference between an OTA and a Channel Manager
A Channel Manager acts as a distributor to many OTAs. To ensure we support real-time availability and bookings for customers who want to connect to more than the popular OTAs, ResRequest provides connectivity to Channel Managers: Nightsbridge, Siteminder, and SynXis.
I’m in! What are the next steps?
ResRequest has direct integrations to Booking.com and Expedia.com, which offer connections to their affiliated platforms. To sign up with these OTAs:
- Create a Property listing account with each OTA.
1.1 Join Booking.com
1.2 Join Expedia.com
Please note that OTAs only recognise a single property so multi-property ResRequest clients need to list each property individually on the OTA. ResRequest maps the individual properties to the OTA so nothing needs to change on the ResRequest business structure.
- Build your profile on the OTA.
For an electronic connection, OTAs require that your room structure in ResRequest matches your structure created on the OTA.
- OTAs require live rates and availability, so this step requires you to contact ResRequest Support to map your ResRequest system to the OTA before activating your connection.
Budget 3-4 hours charged at our hourly support rate to set up a connection per OTA, and to train your OTA manager on how to manage incoming bookings.
- Test the connection and start enjoying the business rolling in.
- Create a Property listing account with each OTA.
For more information or help with OTA connections email us or contact us via the form below.