How travel companies can compete with OTAs and metasearch
With the rapid increase in online travel agents (OTAs) and metasearch websites and apps, it’s easier than ever to book a flight, excursion or hotel in another country. While a few years ago the average consumer may have struggled to name a single OTA, the rise of Booking.com, Kayak, Expedia, Skyscanner and the plethora of similar websites have now become household names for online travel bookings.
Let’s explore how, as a travel company, you can compete in the digital age…
OTAs and Metasearch
Although they seem similar, there are a couple of distinctions that separate OTAs and metasearch. For example, an OTA generally allows you to research and book your entire holiday: hotels, flights, car hire, insurance, excursions and more in one place – think Lastminute.com.
However, a metasearch service doesn’t allow you to book. It will pull together information from a variety of places into one place, and then offer the customer a list of options. They make money from doing this by charging the end-vendor/partner a fee, and they have a big advantage by providing the entire inventory of hotel rooms or flight spaces, instead of what an OTA would be assigned. Think Skyscanner and Trivago as great examples of metasearch.
David vs Goliath
We totally get that this sounds like a David and Goliath-type scenario. But as an independent business or smaller travel company, there are some things you can leverage:
- Showcasing your bespoke services, unique to your customer’s needs
- Talking about your expertise as individuals and as a group
- Knowing your local area of operation well
- Your knowledge of your customer base – demographics, likes and dislikes etc
- Your ability to personalise the booking experience and really take care of each customer
You also have some benefits with paid media that OTAs and metasearch businesses don’t have.
- You can react to changes quickly
- You don’t have to cut corners; your ads, site links, extensions and targeting can be tailored completely, instead of creating generic adverts and ad copy
- Reaching more niche audiences. Doing Google Ads at mass scale means that larger business targeting can be very generic. You can utilise your knowledge to show your ads only to very specific audiences, and to create unique adverts to really sell yourself.
With paid media, another way to beat the giants is to bid on your own brand terms. This not only ensures that OTAs and metasearch websites can’t steal your visitors, but it also means that your customers are more likely to find you when they need you.
One thing that larger businesses often miss out on is referral schemes. Referral programs often encourage your guests to recommend your property, and using your past customers to generate new customers increases your average revenue per customer.
Loyalty programmes and referral schemes can also help to create regular bookings from the customers that you already have, allowing you to acquire your customer once and continue to generate revenue beyond this.
Last of all, if you can’t beat them, join them! There is no harm in working in partnership with metasearch or OTAs as long as your availability and rates are always up-to-date.
Here at Verkeer, we understand the struggle that many businesses can have when competing with industry giants. Our in-house experts in paid media are the perfect addition to your customer acquisition strategy in 2020. Send us a message today to get started!