I am sure you realize the importance of OTA to increase your revenue source. According to a survey almost 28% of the worldwide sales of rooms come from OTA . As the years go by their marketing strategies have become complex and they seem to have taken share away from direct channels.
Major brands are fighting back with loyalty programs and direct booking incentives. That seems to be working for some but still is a challenge for many brands. However when it comes to smaller independent hotels, OTA still has a major role with producing room nights.
The reason is that while you may typically spend 6 to 7% of your revenue on Sales and Marketing efforts, and OTA typically spends 45% of it.
However OTA is not a cheap channel. With commission ranging from 17 – 25 % sometimes it feels that you are paying out too much for this. However you must look at OTA as another distribution channel with potential to fill up rooms for you in distress.
To effectively do that many OTA have the options of bumping up your ranking or providing a Sponsored listing which push your hotel to the top of the ranking. One such program is Expedia Travel Ads.
Expedia is clearly among the top 2 or 3 OTA in the industry and their Travel Ads program is quite powerful. If you have not given it a try so far, do try it out and see if it works for you. If you have tried it, here is how to make it more profitable for you.
Determine your Marketing Objective:
Any campaign you do should begin with the question of what is your objective. In a previous article we looked at how the guest book your hotel. So what are you trying to achieve with this ad campaign.
If you have a budget, you can even run multiple ads with multiple Call to Action to see which are most beneficial to you.
While there are no right answers on what you must target and any ad can increase your revenue, answering this question will help you to create the right copy and message and target the right audience which we will discuss next.
Target the right audience:
Next you will need to target the right audience. Targeting the right audience can be done by customizing the hotel listing.
Promote specific hotel feature that appeal to the target market, a pool side feature for a family weekend or a 24*7 gym for a week day traveler. When you identify the audience, your copy and CTA is more effective. This is a very important step to rise above the clutter of other hotels in your city.
The box that is highlighted is where your top features can be displayed. Use that area to highlight your top feature. and remember your target audience while crafting this statement.
Expedia gives you the option of tuning your ads on and off and by making sure that the audience is right, you can pick up incremental business.
Expedia Travel Ads also has advanced targeting capabilities that can help you to reach your revenue goals. By targeting countries to take advantage of the vacation season you can increase your global reach as well.
Set a budget:
I don’t advise to spend your entire marketing spend on just one channel even if it is for a month. Determine your spending capacity and expected ROI that you seek. Expedia has a tool to tell you how is your bid strength compared to others in the market. Use that as a guide to stop over spending on your ad campaigns.
Another feature is that you can turn Ads on and off with Scheduled ads. Use this feature to fill need dates and shut off the ads when you have groups or have reached a higher room threshold.
If you don’t have budgets for Travel Ads, now is the time you should think about it and budget for it. Treat it like any other expense and budget for it.
The worst thing to happen is if your competition starts to advertise and you loose your existing customers as well.
Use an actionable listing and CTA:
Expedia travel ads provide you an option of engaging the potential guest with custom images and listing for your ads. Your ads must include
- An offer or promotion
- An image that matches the content
- An mention of the top feature of the hotel
- An mention of the top feature or activity in the nearby vicinity for which people may be travelling
Your company needs to have an marketing strategy around OTA to remain competitive in the market.
While you can use Expedia and hope for organic traffic, running ads can give you the competitive advantage you’ve been looking for. This will help you target new customers outside of your existing users and can increase your reach.
Start by identifying your marketing objectives. Then, decide what audience you want to target with each campaign.
Budget your ads accordingly. Don’t spend all your money on one ad or channel. If you dont have budget now, make sure you include it for next year
Make sure your CTA is actionable.
Create an ad that showcases the top benefits of your products. Explain what makes your brand unique.
If you do all this, I am sure your Expedia Travel Ads will be a profitable channel for you.