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What are the 3 ways to offer better rates than the OTA’s?

Yes, the accommodation industry on a whole was outraged by the ACCC ruling last month and this brings with it opportunities for businesses to adapt to. (Yes, we love to resist change.)

What are the 3 ways to offer better rates than the OTA’s?

Change is inevitable and a very natural part of life and business. Embracing growth and evolution is what makes the difference moving forward.

Find out the 3 ways the ACCC approve plus 2 more that we uncovered.


The not so good news - recap

Following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Expedia and Booking.com have each reached agreement to amend price and availability parity clauses in their contracts with Australian hotels and accommodation providers.

The agreements extend to the largest online travel sites used in Australia for Australian accommodation including Booking.com, Wotif.com, Hotels.com, and Expedia.com and will remove barriers to price competition among major online travel sites for hotel bookings.

Parity clauses generally require accommodation providers to offer the best price and availability to online travel sites. This guarantees the online travel site the accommodation provider’s lowest rate and prevents competitors and consumers from negotiating better deals directly with the provider.

The solution to selling your product at your prices without breaking this agreement.

Australian accommodation providers will now be able to tailor their offers to better meet the needs of their customers and their own businesses requirements. They will now be able to offer lower rates through telephone bookings and walk-ins, offer special rates and deals to customer loyalty groups.

    So really, these are the 3 areas Hotels can offer cheaper prices than an OTA:

  • 1. Over the phone
  • 2. Over the counter, walk-ins
  • 3. Via a loyalty club

PHONE

The opportunities to take advantage of here are to make sure your phone number is a major ‘call to action’ (sorry, no pun intended). Encourage people to call to make their bookings knowing that they are going to get even better rates than any online channel, especially now that there is parity. Also communicate that via phone they get customised booking attention to specifically meet their needs, personalised service.

It may be worth looking at including a ‘chat’ service to be able to quickly communicate the BEST rates via chat directly with your clients. This would add a fourth way to offer the best rates.

It’s not just about offering the BEST rates via phone or chat, but more importantly to be able to upset a better room type, room with a view, extra inclusions etc. It is so much easier to sweeten the deal and build into an offer when chatting on the phone.

Updating your website and responsive web views, especially mobile are well worth checking and upgrading to reflect this.

WALK-INS

Does your signage communicate this well to passers-by? How would they know that they can get the best rates as a walk in, better than booking online? I walked into a Meriton once to book a room for the night and was actually told to book online while standing at reception. (not a great strategy for customer service)

LOYALTY CLUB

This is where the real value of your email database comes into its own. Also, make sure that you capture and solicit all email addresses from all OTA guests while at the property to ensure that they are signed up to your loyalty email lists. This is where the power of regular email marketing keeps your brand front of mind and actually builds direct loyalty with your customers. If you don’t email your customers at least every 90 days, someone else will.

Email marketing works on so many levels and is a powerful medium for driving direct bookings and visitors into your website.

By using this option, we have developed a Price Check Comparison Feed to pull in OTA prices against the hotel price. We have used loyalty discount codes to reduce what guests see as your rate on this feed so they can always see that you are offering the best rate if they become a loyalty member. All they need to do is give you their email address and they will recieve your loyalty discount rate. You can find out more about our Price Check Comparison Feed here.


CHAT FUNCTIONALITY

There are many free services that are quick and easy to implement into your website. If you have someone monitoring reservations on a daily basis, this can be monitored and used at the same time.

The fifth and most exciting one to put in place is using your website landing page to promote your best rates and packages out to your audience through user engagement.

POP UPS/LANDING PAGE

In a way, this is utilising the ‘loyalty’ club principle but adapting this to create a NEW email list ('direct is best' list) via a pop up that can capture their details and auto send them to a unique landing page with a special promo code already loaded that can display your real best rates.

This also creates a loyal email database of people wanting to know the best rates if this is the main need for them. You can push best rate deals out in small blocks as and when you need to fill gaps at short notice.

What is your strategy now that the playing field goal posts have moved?

We are here to help you win more direct bookings by playing fair and having fun while doing it. Give us a call if you need a hand.

Original article - https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/expedia-and-bookingcom-agree-to-reinvigorate-price-competition-by-amending-contracts-with-australian-hotels

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