As a good businessman we all want to invoice more at the end of the month and have the certainty that we will close a season with good numbers.
From here, each one uses the tools available to achieve this goal. Depending on the type of management, the size of the company and the location of it, the tools to be used can vary a lot.
Do to the familiar type of management of the clear majority of campsites, the marketing strategies carried out by this sector were summarized to provide a maximum quality service and retain customer loyalty.
Nowadays, the tools available to us have varied a lot. So much that some of them have become essential when it comes to managing our companies.
One of the most controversial are the OTAs. Travel agencies On Line. These large portals of hotel services that offer us the possibility of publicizing our companies in exchange for a percentage of the final billing they generate.
Seen in this way we are in front of a win to win. But if we analyze it in more detail we can appreciate that not everything plays in our favor.
The objective of the OTAs is to convince the hoteliers they can sell their products much better than they do. For this they carry out marketing and positioning campaigns with costs that are impossible to have individually. To do so, they have no solution but to apply high commissions that may seem very striking in the short term but that in the medium and long term can become our enemy, if we do not manage them well.
What three great benefits do we get?
1. We exponentially improve the visibility of our establishment. Appearing on the portals of the OTAs gives us the possibility of reaching customers that individually we would not never reach. We will have to adapt to his way of work. We must have an online reservation system where we can “connect” to the OTAs to avoid the overbooking and manage the multi-rates associated with each one.
The visibility of our company should never depend 100% on the OTAs. This would mean not being able to control our brand or our URL. By signing up for an OTA we give up part of our own marketing and this is used to gain positioning in the network against each of the “associates” to the same OTA.
From Turisme Proactiu we advise to manage a mixed management tool without reaching majority percentages for OTAs. We must maintain control of our promotional actions. Protect our client and manage the database of our customers. Make use of the Chanel Manager in combination with the RMS.
You must do intense, constant, proactive and very active work in social networks. This will give us a lot of visibility and help us to build customer loyalty.
2. We will have greater flexibility in terms of rates. The OTAs allow us to segment the seasons with specific prices for each one of them managing the rates according to demand. This “Revenue Management” is applied directly by the OTA and, normally, is subject to special cancellation conditions, to higher commissions, to fees without the right of return, etc.
If we are convinced to work with On Line agencies we can choose not to “sell” all the accommodation through them. We can assign only one space, one area, one type of plot, room or bungalow. We should manage the insights of this action and take decisions at the end of the season and rectify where we think, if the OTA contract allows us to do so.
3. We do not have fixed fees. The lure of OTAs is none other than generating no cost until we have an income. We do not need any investment. We pay based on the billing generated by your platform. But we also contractually bind ourselves to it and it is difficult to break this link.
We could enter to discuss other possible more technical advantages that, possibly, are part of the previous three; Take advantage of the “Channel Manager” and the RMS. Being able to test in emerging markets and in specific channels. Apply product packs dynamics or replace unexpected cancellations.
Once in this marketing wheel we must yield, season after season, one more pinch of our benefit. We win being inside, but once outside forces us to start from scratch, to recover our brand, our logo and, most importantly, our client.
Of course, it is better to be in than not to exist. We must take advantage of this sales system, but without becoming dependent on it.
Being inside an OTA may seem like a mandatory action to increase our sales. We can have the feeling of being out of the sales circle, going adrift. If we do not have a promotion plan or the appropriate personnel, this option may be the only possibility of sale we have, but in this case, the problem is another one.
The latest studies conducted by “The Competition and Markets Authority, CMA”, on the traffic of reservations made through the OTAs tell us that this market is changing. It is true that the large hotel and camping groups continue to increase their reserves with this system, but let’s not forget that these magnates are the ones who, many times, control the same OTAs through other companies.
The average businessman tends to dispense with the OTAs increased their own e-marketing campaigns. Why? Well, because after several years in the system they have realized that, in many cases, OTAs are bread for today and hunger for tomorrow. Above all, the camping sector, the least committed to giving up its planning to another company, is investing more in customer loyalty than trying to win a new one. The cost is much lower and ensures a “total” control over your client.
There is so much information on the network that we often scare customers when it comes to finding the best possible offer.
What can we do to have more direct sales?
1.- Make clear the advantages of direct booking on the corporate website. We can offer an extra service at a reduced cost or an incentive for future reservations, without forgetting to emphasize that here you can get the best possible price.
2.- The reservation process must be easy. This must be done in a few simple steps. The system must be quick and easy. If our system asks absurd or unnecessary questions in front of the client, it will close the reservation and try to do it through another operator.
One task we must all do is to compare our reservation system with the OTAs with which we work, to be able to verify the necessary time in both cases.
3.- We must interact with the client. When someone visits our website, it is because they are really interested in our product. When it opens to an OTA, it is often due to network traffic and its positioning.
Let’s take advantage of this fact. We can tell our own or our clients’ experiences. Let us ask for their opinion. Let’s create a community Let’s count out what experiences they can have in our accommodation.
We can create an email campaign. Either with the list of your own mails or that of the OTAs, try to reach each one of them showing our services, activities, facilities, offers, rates, packs, the employee of the month or the number 1,000 client. All these actions will help us create brand and customer loyalty.
Using technology in the reservation process is vital in our sector. And it will be even more in the years to come. The positioning of our brand in the network must be precise, active and very insistent. Having the trained staff is very important. Implement an RMS (Revenue Management System) and manage it together with the Chanel Manager. Only then will we arrive at a line of improvement of results.
No one said it was easy to manage a tourist accommodation. Each entrepreneur must be knowledgeable about their market and the tools available to reach it. Some have done their homework well, being loyal to the client season after season, struggling not to fall into the temptation of having to sell the soul to the “devil”. Others have no other solution but to do so if they want to remain in the system.