Expedia recently published an article on tnooz providing 5 tips on how hotels can convert OTA traffic into bookings. The one tip that stood out to me most was: take better photos (and videos) of your property.
We have been educating hoteliers on the benefits of displaying visuals on all online channels (including OTAs) for years. Expedia’s research confirms the value of having more visuals available online. In fact, they found that “Doubling a hotel’s online pictures can result in 4.5% take-up and $3.50 higher ADR.”
This isn’t the first time an OTA or major travel site has revealed findings like these. TripAdvisor published a report last year that stated that properties with more than 20 photos get 150% more engagement[i].
However, getting maximum value from your hotel listings is not just about increasing the number of images you have available. It involves using these images to tell a compelling story that shows the consumer how staying at your hotel will help make their trip a success.
Knowing that a well-thought out visual story on OTAs can increase engagement, bookings and ADR, why are some hoteliers shying away from OTAs?
It’s important to understand the travel shopping journey and that OTAs are not exclusively used for booking. Travel shoppers do their hotel research on a number of websites (including OTAs) before they’re even ready to book. Therefore, the way your hotel is presented on these sites impacts whether or not you make the travel shopper’s shortlist. If you don’t make their shortlist, they definitely won’t be visiting your hotel’s website, brand website or calling you to book directly. They won’t be booking your hotel at all. Not booking at all is worse than if booking through an OTA, isn’t it?
Maryam Wehe from Applied Predictive Technologies says it best in this article, “In a world where online travel agencies make comparison shopping easy for discerning travelers, hotels are pushed to forge new frontiers to set themselves apart from the pack.” Ramping up your visual storytelling efforts on OTAs is one way to do that.
Visual stories give the consumer a better perspective of what your hotel offers overall, thus adding to your value proposition, justifying your price point and reducing the need to discount your rooms.
As mentioned earlier, it’s not just about having photos, the order you place those photos in also matters. They should be placed in an order that allows the viewer to flow through your visual story seamlessly, take them through a journey of what it’s like to stay at your hotel.
And don’t forget about videos. Adding a short video adds another dimension to your story, helps further highlight your hotel and move it up on the travel shopper’s list.
To learn more about the travel shopping journey and the important roles that OTAs and visual storytelling play, download the guide: From Inspiration to Great Vacation Understanding the Travel Shopping Journey.
[i] Consumer engagement is the resulting impact of a brand interacting with consumers through of a variety of marketing initiatives. The goal of consumer engagement is to create meaningful consumer impact and generate either a behavioral result (such as driving a sale or inquiry) or an attitudinal result (such as making an emotional impression or changing attitudes (fusemarketing).