Fight Rate Parity with Rate Cuts can Get Hotels de-Ranked
Rate Parity, where OTAs demand that hotel not undercut the rates they have, is now illegal in Europe, but many Eu hotels are opting to fight it without undercutting OTA. The reason is that they want to avoid being “de-ranked” by OTAs. In place of price cutting they are offering better value and playing up the Benefits of Booking Direct.
The TravelTripper article shows How Hotels Add Value to Direct Bookings to Fight OTA Rate Parity
Adding Value for Booking Direct the New Way
The pressure is on in America and in others parts of the world where Rate Parity is not yet illegal. Poinsettia Villa resort in St. Lucia is an example of a small Caribbean Villa Resort that is touting the Benefits of Booking direct.
Hilton Worldwide recently started its Stop Clicking Around advertising campaign where members earn HHonors Points, complimentary room nights, free Wi-Fi and access to exclusive events and experiences. In addition loyalty members can get the lowest rates when they book direct through the membership site.
Private Members Not affected
Rate Parity does not apply to private rates that are not made public. In Poinsettias case they require guest enter their email which automatically registers them in the VIP Membership program and shows rates that are private. The management change reduces the discount every few days to let shoppers know that today is the best rate; so reserve now to lock it in.
Website Messaging Strategy is Vital
Traveltripperssays “One of the most important things that independent hotels should do to increase direct bookings is to strengthen their direct web presence. This means having a responsive modern website that works across all different types of devices, especially mobile. It also means having a user-friendly booking process that makes it easy and quick for guests to book, and reassures them that they are getting the best price available.”
It is also vital that hotel Websites make full use of proven sales strategies by using engaging videos and developing a messaging strategy that talks to the guest wants and needs. This requires some sole searching so that you can isolate your special difference and talk directly to a unique target market.
Craibbean Villas CASE Study
In the case of Poinsettia, a Caribbean OceanView villa resort in St. Lucia their market is the independent travel who is not looking to be seen or to mingle with crowds of tourist – Their tag line includes the phrase Holiday Away from The Crowds and their messaging talks about privacy, personalization, space and freedom.
Hot buttons and neurosciences triggered are used to grab attention, with words that trigger action and are familiar, problematic or unusual. This is covered in the book on Hotel Website Marketing Strategies recently published on Amazon- see related link at end.
Tools of the Trade
Also noted by Traveltripper are many other useful tactics and solutions from companies like StayWanderful which is “helping hotels’ turn browsers into bookers with an incentive-driven approach. By installing StayWanderful’s “incentive engine,” the hotel website encourages a customer to book direct using curated deals that range from free Gogo Wifi and free Uber, to discounts at local restaurants, retailers and nearby attractions.”
Triptease’s Price Check and Travel Tripper’s Rate Match are also another way to show guests that your rates are the best, but these are not liked by the OTAs who have threatened to de-rank hotels using them.
A Better way
It probable is more sustainable to accept that OTAs are here to stay and in fact are preferred by some travellers. What we need to do is help travelers understand that OTAs do not have an exclusivity on best rates and that their are many benefits to booking direct.
There is a good list of these on the Poinsettia Site, which tells guest to “Signup now to receive our specials, our island Guide and Poinsettia Holiday Planner >>>>> Get Alerts on Offers & Events” See Benefits.
They also tell travelers who Prefer to book with their agent or one of the hotels travel partners that they can still loyalty benefits if they register for VIP Membership. And then points out a few things they might miss.
Ultimately undercutting OTAs is risky business and one get further ahead by offering better value, perks and benefits as an incentive for booking direct. Also hotels reservation and management must reminding guest that they are locals who know the destination better and certainly know their own hotel better that anyone else.
The book covers hot buttons and sales funnels, website strategies, mobile messaging, video tactics, blogging, search and reputation branding. It is part of a series that includes Website strategies, digital media and technology.