🕒 6 min.

Online travel agencies or simply OTAs have plenty of opportunities to market their offer to the target customers. Some strategies focus more on generating exposure, while others generate more leads and increase conversion rates. There are also more and less efficient advertising strategies. 

One common question that continues to trouble online travel agents is: “How to choose the perfect marketing strategy for your OTA?” We did some research for you – here’s what we found about OTA advertising strategies, including the best ones to consider implementing.

Why do OTAs need advertising?

OTAs need advertising for a couple of reasons. First, you should acknowledge that the hospitality industry is quite competitive. To win the battle against direct booking, OTAs need to appear more prospective to hotels. While many hotels have strategies to increase direct booking, they continue to rely on OTAs.

A well-researched marketing strategy can help you attract more potential customers. The popularity of your OTA can be solid proof for independent hotels to list on your website. 

It’s also important to note that modern travelers begin their research online. In fact, 64% of leisure travelers in the US now find accommodation online. With a proper advertising approach, you can build enough exposure, trustworthiness, and reach to attract more travelers, increase bookings, and improve your reputation.

How to plan an OTA advertising strategy

Whether you decide to use an offensive or defensive strategy, planning an OTA marketing initiative boils down to repeating the same several steps:

  • Defining your goals (increase brand awareness, generate leads, or increase bookings);
  • Research the market (understand what your ideal customers expect and need);
  • Research the competition (identify your main competitors, see what they are doing, and assess their success);
  • Choose the marketing strategy that reflects your goals;
  • Create a schedule for your marketing activities.

Tips to get the best results

Here are some easy tips to follow to get the best results:

Do extensive research – Every successful advertising strategy is based on data. To access data and have actionable insights, you should do extensive market and competition research.

Be ready to fine-tune your approach No marketing strategy works out of the box. Be ready to fine-tune your approach in real-time, and optimize your strategies on the go to achieve more optimal results.

Align with professionals if you need to – If you don’t have an experienced internal team of marketers, you should consider aligning with a company specializing in OTA marketing

Focus on your strengths – whether they are in the leisure travel or hotel industry, all businesses want to sell experiences to guests as quickly and as easily as possible. As an online travel agent, you should leverage marketing to emphasize your strengths, such as easy and fast hotel booking and attractive cancelation rates. 

If you are using big data solutions such as Hotelmize to offer listings at competitive prices, you should also focus your marketing on communicating attractive prices to prospects.

Things to avoid

Some of the general marketing DONTs transfer into OTA advertising too. Here are the things you should avoid.

Don’t copy-paste what the competition has been doing – what may work for one OTA doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you. Don’t blindly follow other OTAs’ strategies, or you will risk poor results.

Don’t pull all of your eggs in one basket – Don’t base your OTA strategy on just one marketing initiative. Just as hotels use several booking channels and do channel management, you should use several marketing channels. 

Don’t neglect the reports – Never base your marketing decisions on a hunch or your previous experience. Instead, look at marketing reports to determine what is working and what’s not. 

Best advertising strategies for OTAs

With the basics of OTA advertising out of our way, we are ready to go through the best advertising strategies for OTA. 

Search engine marketing

Search engine marketing or SEM refers to a digital marketing strategy. It’s based around using paid advertising on search engines such as Google and Bing. These engines have advertising platforms that you can use to attract more prospective travelers to your OTA website.

When to use it

You can use SEM throughout the year. However, a more indicative period would be just before the season starts to advertise discounts and great deals

How to execute it

To execute an SEM strategy, you need to identify the relevant keywords in your market, generate unique landing pages, and create and launch a campaign through Google Ads

Example

Expedia Group and Booking Holdings, an online travel giant, uses Google Ads to advertise its listings. Following the pandemic-related restrictions, Archipelago increases bookings by 440% using Google Ads

Search engine optimization

SEO is also marketing that leverages the popularity of search engines. However, unlike paid advertising, SEO is focused more on achieving long-term goals without investing cash in paid ads. It also involves targeting keywords, but in this instance, using them to create relevant content and optimize the website.

When to use it

You can use SEO to optimize content for both travelers and hotels. Researching hotel marketing and hotel ads will help you discover a lot of long-tail keywords you can use to create content. There is no specific time to use it. You should use it throughout the year to become more visible in the target market.

How to execute it

Every SEO strategy starts with keyword research. Once you have the relevant keywords, you should make a content plan. Furthermore, you should optimize your website, including the listings with keywords in mind.

Example

TripAdvisor considers SEO one of the most valuable digital marketing strategies. Thanks to SEO, the OTA increased search traffic to a whopping 103.2 million per month

Display Ads

Display Ads refer to platforms that play a key role in advertising across industries. OTAs use them to serve relevant ads to prospective customers while browsing the internet. 

When to use it

Using Display Ads is a good strategy that works best when the customers are exploring their travel options. The algorithm picks up their buying intent and servers your ads directly to them. 

How to execute it

Executing this strategy is fairly easy. You just need to use Display Ads and have your ads displayed across its network of websites.

Example

Using display ads on Facebook helped “On the Beach” OTA generate 3.5 more sales and increase profitability.

Despite a great hotel website, revenue managers continue to use OTAs to drive bookings and increase revenue. In the crowded OTA space, it’s becoming increasingly hard to attract hotels to publish their listings on your website. 

These three OTA advertising strategies can help your online travel agency stand out from the crowd, generate more website traffic, increase conversion rates, and attract more hotels to list on your website.

  • Mize is an AI-driven Travel-tech startup company that allows travel companies to increase their hotel bookings’ profits by more than 35%, optimizing their purchasing rates post-booking in a fully automated procedure. Mize monitors and processes millions of bookings and billions of US$ value each year.

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