If you’re a B&B owner guest house owner or innkeeper and you're here watching or reading this now, you’re clearly interested in reducing your reliance on OTAs, so the question I want to ask you is WHY?
WHY do you want to stop using OTAs for bookings?
Without a good reason, you won’t really be motivated to do anything about this issue, so we need to get specific on WHY you want to stop using them
When you look at those reasons, how bothered are you by them?
Really bothered, a little bit bothered, not bothered very much
And how long have you felt this way about relying on online travel agents?
And now ask yourself, how motivated am I to solve this issue once and for all
On a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being really motivated and 1 being not really
If you’re at an 8 or above, keep watching, then I have the answers for you.
If you’re at a 7 or below, then this isn’t for you
So I’m trusting that if you’re still here you’re at an 8 or above and highly motivated to solve the problem of constantly relying on OTAs to bring you bookings
And you’re clear on the reasons why
So how do we solve this?
First, let’s not pretend that you can live totally without them. They have their place and it’s OK to use them
And, you can 100% totally live and thrive without them, I did and many of my clients do, but some still choose to use them on their terms
So in my experience, there are 4 crucial elements that you’ll need to be taking care of, to have a thriving business that doesn’t rely on online travel agents
And this is what they are
Let’s break each one of them down with some questions
The first step is Visibility
In terms of being visible to the guests you want to welcome, how visible are you to them online?
When I go and look you up on social media, can I see a clear correlation between what you look like on your website, and what you look like on social media?
How many of the social media platforms are you using to gain visibility across the web?
Are there some platforms that work better for you than others?
How much attention have you paid to your branding – which is what you look like for the web?
Is there anything that can be tightened up here?
What beliefs do you have about being seen online?
Next is Content
When I land on your website, what is the first thing I read there?
Do you have a clear message specifically calling out your ideal guests, so that they can self-identify as soon as they land there, or are there mixed messages about “something for everyone”?
When I go check you out on social media, what will I see in terms of the content you post? Is it consistent with your website message or do you use social media to air your political views?
Is there anywhere on your website and/or social media where I can get your take on what’s on in your area that’s written and posted by you, with your recommendations or are you mainly sharing other peoples’ posts?
Can I see you on video anywhere where I can see you face, hear your voice and get your energy?
What concerns do you have about creating content for the benefit of your guests?
Third is Consistency
How often do you add new content on your website in the form of blogs? How often do you post on social media using all the media available to you, text, images and video?
How do you feel when you look at your website? Is it a static thing that you or someone else built for you and now it just sits there online, not doing or saying very much?
Or do you view it as a living, breathing entity that requires your energy to be sure it’s always working for you?
How do you view social media? As a necessary evil, that you don’t like very much, or as a cool way to connect with potential guests?
Do you see it as a time-suck, something you don’t have time for, but just do it because you think you should?
What would change if you enjoyed interacting on social media more?
And finally, Community
What are the primary mechanisms you use to build the feeling of community with your guests?
How are you consciously and intentionally inviting them into your world from the world wide web or do you mostly passively wait for them to show up?
How do you feel about looking for new connections online?
When guests book with you, do you have a way to build relationships with them before they arrive, so they don’t cancel, and so that when they do arrive, they feel like they already know you and can’t wait to meet you?
How often do you communicate with your guests after they’ve gone giving them great reasons to return?
I can tell you that the online travel agents are communicating with your guests on a very regular basis, selling them on another booking in another location, and even selling them on buying other products from other suppliers that they get a kick back on
This is how they operate. It’s all about the numbers and with such a huge community, that you’ve helped them to build through the bookings they’ve brought you, they’re never short of ideas and methods to sell more bookings and other stuff
Is it time to start building your own community?
What beliefs or thought patterns might prevent you from starting this now?
How do you feel about sending regular emails to your past guests?
So those are the 4 key elements
If you’re serious about not relying on online travel agents, these are the 4 areas to work on. Which of these four areas do you feel you need the most help with now?
- Is it visibility – where you know you need to show your face and sound your voice but you have some fear around that?
- Is it content – where you don’t really know what to post to have the greatest effect, so you don’t really create much content?
- Is it consistency – where posting is just a drudge and you do it every now and again, and not consistently
- Or is it community – where you don’t know where to start?
You might be thinking, well I don’t have time for all this, or how much time will all this take me, or I don’t know how to do any of this…..
If you’re at an 8 or above on wanting to solve the issue of depending on online travel agents, then this is the course of action to follow
You may not know where to start, but your commitment to changing and learning is the key
How long will it take to learn and see results?
Well, as a rough guide, if you’re established, and you have plenty of past bookings in your online reservations system, it could take just one season for you to be able to dump the OTAs
If you’re just starting out, then count on 1 – 2 years to build up enough of a visible reputation for guests to trust you enough to book directly with you, and for you to build your community.
And if feel that you’re ready to do this, and you’d like our help, then click on the link below to book a free call with me
So remember, to keep doing the same thing and expecting or hoping for different results is the definition of insanity.
Thanks for your time today, I hope it’s been helpful to you
Yvonne Halling is an award-winning consultant, coach and mentor to Bed and Breakfasts, Guest Houses, Inns and independent hotels worldwide, where she typically helps them to increase their revenue by at least 25% in one season without working harder.