In the search leakage series, we’re covering the different strategies you should be keeping an eye on to ensure that your accommodation listing is not falling short because of search leakage. As we’ve already said, if your competitors are better at marketing and presenting their property online, you’re going to get beaten to that booking every single time.
So it’s important to identify where you may be suffering when it comes to search leakage.
Last week, we covered optimisation leakages that could be affecting your rankings. This week we’re covering the second topic under the ‘be found’ area of booking leakages: distribution leakage.
This is the other big part of ranking and having searchers find your accommodation listing, your distribution.
An extension of being found online and a key pillar of overall online visibility is wider distribution. In other words, the more points of presence you have, the better evidence there is of your brand existence.
There are three sub-categories to distribution leakage:
The most common form of this is being distributed on OTAs such as Booking.com, Expedia and Wotif.
There is a long list of OTAs you can choose from, but Booking.com and Expedia cover most online bookings. Around 80% to 90% of bookings will come through these two websites and their affiliate websites.
There are many other distribution websites, but it’s all about choosing the channels that are appropriate to your target market. So while broad distribution is good, in theory, you don’t need to be on every single channel just for the sake of distribution.
Having said that, OTAs are masters at marketing your property. Too often, we hear grumbles about paying commissions to OTAs, but in reality, we would be lost without them. The best part about using OTAs for your marketing is that you only pay on a performance basis. So keep that in mind.
The big upside of distributing to the OTA’s is you start to appear in META Search. META Search refers to appearing on sites like Trivago, Hotels Combined and Google. These websites do live hotel and rate comparisons across multiple platforms.
META Search aims to save consumer’s time and money when searching for a palace that fits their needs.
Essentially, robots scroll the internet, find your pricing and then add it to the rate comparison websites such as Trivago. So, by distributing your rates across OTAs, you’re more likely to be found on META Search sites, and people have a better user experience.
When it comes to user experience, it’s important to remember that people don’t want to enquire separately about prices; they want to know what the prices are while they’re refining their property search. If they can’t find the price immediately or they have to enquire, they’ll move onto another listing that does offer live pricing and then move forward from there.
Similar to META Search, the effect of you being listed on an OTA or multiple OTAs will improve your booking volume on your own website.
A research paper written by Cornell University School of Hotel Administration titled “The Billboard Effect” suggests that traffic volumes to your own website will reap benefits from being listed on OTAs. The study eliminates the incremental reservations from listing on Expedia at 7.5% to 26% for the four properties used for the study.
This is because the booker trusts that you’re listed on multiple channels and/or are simply more likely to find you in the first place, and then as they continue their research, they will go through the process of checking pricing on your hotel’s direct website, resulting in more direct bookings as well as the uplift from the OTA’s themself.
Many hotels and accommodation listings don’t necessarily like the idea of OTAs because of the stranglehold they have on the industry and the commissions they have to pay them. But at the end of the day, distribution is about building up the volume of your listing.
Wider participation has shown to have a multiplying effect on your overall online visibility to consumers. By using a single OTA, you should:
So distribution leakage is an area you should monitor closely. Build up the volume through your distribution channels first, then you can refine your distribution mix to balance out more efficient and profitable channels at a later stage.