The Anchor: 5 things that make OTAs tick among consumers

29 Aug,2012

By Rajiv Malhotra

 

#1 Be ‘smart’.

Having active apps on mobile platforms is an absolutely must for OTAs. Penetration of internet and mobile broadband services is on the rise in India, the number of smartphone users has increased exponentially and so has the usage of smart apps. Today there is an app for just about everything and the benefits of these apps are being experienced in various ways. Travel apps by OTAs help to connect with customers on an additional platform other than the web portal. They also provide convenience and enable travellers to make their booking while they are on the go or even at the last minute.

 

#2 Be social.

Social media, digital networking, YouTube are the buzzwords at the moment. Social media is an effective platform to connect and engage with the target audience. It is important for OTAs to monitor and participate in consumer conversations on social networking sites to manage and leverage their brand. Consumers read reviews, posts, recommendations, etc. shared on social websites which actually influence their buying decision. Also brands can engage with their audience through innovative and interesting activities on social media to create stronger recall for the brand. One example is Hotels.com’s recently-launched 2nd Xtreme Bookingvideo, which shows a person booking a hotel through the Hotels.com iPad app while running with the bulls in Pamplona.

 

#3 Have an engaging website.

It is important to have a website which is customer friendly and easy to browse. It should seem like a two way conversation wherein the customer has space to post his views or recommendations on the portal. The website should carry destination pictures, hotel views and a city map or similar information which make it easier for the consumer to take a decision. Also, there should be unbiased content on the website which will help travellers take an informed decision.

 

#4 Offer multiple payment options.

Consumers like to be spoilt for choice. Very often booking process comes to a startling halt due to lack of payment options. Providing multiple payment options gives travellers the freedom to choose the mode of payment they are most comfortable with. This also leads to more travellers making bookings through the website and helps expand the customer base.

 

#5 Other ‘must-have’s.

Having a loyalty programme helps to further connect with customers and encourage repeat bookings. Welcome Rewards, the loyalty programme by Hotels.com is an example of a simple and straightforward one. Additionally, OTAs must acknowledge that Indians still prefer phone interactions over the internet. Hence, adding that personal touch is necessary.

 

Rajiv Malhotra is Head of Marketing, South East Asia, Hotels.com

 

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2 responses to “The Anchor: 5 things that make OTAs tick among consumers”

  1. neeti says:

    very insightful

  2. Klee88 says:

    Interesting read.

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