October 24th, 2019
Consumers today often begin their online vacation research by seeking information from online travel agencies, also known as OTAs.
As a vacation rental property manager, you often need to have a presence on the OTAs in order to drive traffic to your website and showcase your properties. Just like search engine optimization, these OTAs will rank properties based upon certain criteria. Travelers are often unaware of how this system works, and why ranking rewards some properties and punishes others, but the fact is, consumers will generally choose a property from the first two pages of the search results.
“Scores” are used by the OTAs to rank properties based on several criteria such as reviews, commission, conversion, and the quality of content. This includes both visuals and text descriptions. Some of these OTAs will allow property managers to check their ranking and will tell them how to rank higher in their search results.
The following are six factors you can incorporate to improve your overall ranking with the OTAs. Improved rankings will help drive more traffic, increase conversions, and maximize bookings.
High-quality visuals are a must when it comes to ranking. As a property manager, you should invest in professional photography and have a variety of images to choose from. Visual quality and quantity both play a crucial role in your score. Research by Expedia.com shows that higher-resolution photographs will produce more conversions and increase bookings.
Visuals are not entirely searchable which is why meta tags, alt tags, and meta descriptions are so important. The add relevance and help the OTAs to determine the context of each image. It might seem cumbersome to tag each image across multiple OTAs, but many Content Management Systems will map tags to the tags on the OTAs. They also allow for more personalization when prospects are browsing on the site.
Updating your descriptions and keeping them relevant comprehensively improves your content score. Make sure to include information geared to the consumer that will drive them to act.
Make sure each property has at least four photos to give consumers a realistic vision of your property. Consumers want to see visuals of the various properties you offer. The more visual information you provide, the easier it is to make the sale and photos can also increase upsell opportunities.
Rates, Special Offers & Amenities
OTAs often compare rates with the rates on your company website, and also with competing properties to help determine your content store. Offering packages, value-added services, outstanding amenities, and deals will also factor into your score.
Encouraging your guests to leave reviews, and making sure that you provide the stellar service to receive positive ones is an important factor in your OTA ranking. Positive comments can inspire a potential customer to choose your property over a cheaper property with negative reviews, and if both rentals are the same price, the one with the higher rate reviews will typically get the booking.
These factors are critical for determining the ranking of every property on the online travel sites. Much like SEO in terms of Google search ranking, in order to be easily found among the hundreds or even thousands of competing properties, these factors should be considered.
Take the time and dedicate the resources needed to make sure you have entered all of the information necessary to maximize your OTA rankings.
Remember, relevant, well-written content, alt tags, meta-descriptions, photographs, amenities, and any additional details directly affect how you are ranked and displayed on the OTAs. Higher rankings can drive more traffic to your company website, increase conversions and result in more bookings.