Is it worth to be on multiple OTAs?
So you’ve set up everything and are ready to start receiving bookings for you property? The question is where to advertise and what exactly is the difference between each OTA (online travel agency). Is it worth at all to register on all of them?
You have no choice
As a small business, you need to find opportunities to use advertisement of bigger platforms to your advantage. Hotels and chains also advertise on OTAs (online travel agencies), like Booking.com or Expedia, even though they will have a website of their own. You on the other hand might not even have a website. In case you do, large portion of your traffic will still be generated elsewhere. In short: you need to register on a bunch of OTAs to start receiving bookings.
On the other hand you have too many choices
There are so many platforms out there. If you’re a perfectionist, you might find it hard to resist registering to all, but trust me, make a selection. Being present on multiple OTAs requires time and effort not only when creating the profiles, but also when managing them. Let’s say you receive a booking from one of them, you need to close sales for that date on the rest. If you refresh your prices, you need to do it on all. If you repaint a room and have new pictures, you need to upload to all. So consider your resources when you decide how many you can tackle.
Which ones to pick?
Well, there is no golden rule, but you most probably know the larger players anyway: Airbnb, Homeaway, Booking.com, Expedia, etc. The first two traditionally specialize in vacation rentals and the latter in hotels. Registering on the most popular platform for your region is a must. Registering to additional ones is your decision. It is a good trick to check out the online presence of your closest competitors and examine which of these would work for you.
Aren’t all OTAs basically the same?
Yes and no. You as a property partner to that particular OTA will have similar admin pages and front end profiles. You most probably will be portrayed with similar competition. However the customer base of each OTA can vary. Guests in the U.S. traditionally browse on Expedia, while Europeans tend to go to Booking.com. Airbnb is a trendy alternative where you can expect a closer communication with your potential guests and a mostly younger mindset. Each OTA tries to tap into new and new customer segments, that can drive different type of guests to you.
Booking.com brings me enough bookings, why should I register anywhere else?
Consider your commission levels. Different platforms have different commissions, so even if you only receive two bookings from one smaller player each month, they might still make you the most money. Also different platforms have different customer groups, you might find more valuable sources with one, while more frequent and steady flow of bookings with the other. It’s also prudent to have multiple online presences for safety reasons. Say the platform has issues and needs to close down for a few days: you still have the other to keep you busy. Last but not least: competition. If you tap into the customer base of more OTAs, you are selling to a larger audience. You’re making more people compete and you have a better chance of setting higher prices.
Consider your resources
Always keep in mind how much time and energy you can allocate to this project and how serious you are about bringing out the most of it. Being present on twenty OTAs does not guarantee a higher income and can actually even cause overbooking issues if you can’t juggle all of them at once. Being present on only a few can still provide you with a nice cash flow, though most probably not the maximum you could tap into. Should you ever feel lost or simply had enough, you can always consider an Agency, who will take the tasks off your hands for a percentage.