Due to their global reach and brand awareness, it’s likely a traveler’s first introduction to your small regional chain or independently-owned property will be in an OTA marketplace. Thus, your property profile is an important marketing tool and opportunity to shape guest expectations. Learn how to make the most of yours.
What is an OTA property profile?
A property profile, also known as a property listing, is the description travelers see when they shop for places to stay on an online travel agent’s (OTA) website. Key features include photos, rooms and rates, available amenities, guest reviews, information about the location and nearby sites and the property’s policies and fees. Available for all lodging types, from large chain hotels to individual vacation homes, profiles are similar to a property’s own website – showcasing special features and setting guest expectations. Travelers can begin the booking process from a property profile.
Creating a traveler match
Typically, OTAs will use the information provided in a profile to match properties to traveler preferences – especially when a search is narrowed beyond a destination and date range. Detail on amenities, services and policies are used when travelers filter a search to focus on accommodations that best meet their needs. For example, if the pet-friendly, free parking and pool filters are used, and that aligns to your profile, it’s likely your property will appear in the results displayed to the traveler.
What makes a good listing?
When planning a trip, travelers indulge in a lot of research. McKinsey recently published a study revealing that a traveler’s purchase path included 45 touchpoints in 36 days. 2016 research by Expedia Group’s Media Solutions team reported an average of 140 visits to travel sites in the 45 days leading up to the booking. With all that joyful exploration, the message is clear – a good property profile must be up-to-date with detailed and complete information.
In addition to helping you market your property, think of your profile as the first connection in your guest experience. Travelers don’t like surprises, so be sure to keep your content current to accurately set guest expectations. If you’ve stopped offering a free breakfast, but it’s still listed in your profile, a disappointed guest may leave a negative review. In the same vein, if you’ve implemented a pet-friendly policy, but it’s not reflected in your profile, guests may arrive and regret not bringing along the family pooch. Keep in mind the power of your property profile to build (or break) trust with future guests as you learn more about how to create a high-performing listing.
The images that appear with your property profile are perhaps your most important marketing tool – given that they will create a first impression for potentially hundreds or thousands of travelers. Expedia.com research found travelers review 35 property photos on their phones and 75 on tablets as part of their decision-making process. So there’s no question your photo gallery is an excellent opportunity to tell the story of your property, make an emotional connection, build trust and excitement about the experience of staying with you. Read our quick guide to effective hotel photography for best practice tips
Another critical element to crafting a high-performing profile is maintaining accurate information on rooms and rates -- especially during seasonality and peak periods. Keeping your availability and rates updated will help you maximize the number of bookings you capture and your occupancy. Learn more about revenue management in our guide and discover the benefits of using a channel manager to keep your inventory current.
As discussed above, your amenities will help connect you with travelers who are searching for the guest experience you offer. Creating a detailed and current list of amenities will ensure your OTA profile is working hard on your behalf. Include information about your rooms (toiletries, bedding, entertainment, views, etc.), property (pools, parking, fitness, etc.) and details about the unique experience you offer (spa information, nearby activities, child-specific toys and games, etc.).
Learn more in our article about hotel amenities and the modern traveler.
Reviewing feedback from prior guests is an important part of a traveler’s booking decision. Most OTAs will include vetted reviews, and your responses, alongside your property profile. This tends to be an automatic process, so the most critical action for you is to proactively respond to your reviews. Doing so helps set expectations with future guests and allows them to get a sense of the on-property experience they could enjoy.
Highlighting cultural landmarks, unique activities and experiences in your local neighborhood and surrounding areas, not only helps travelers better imagine their stay with you – it establishes you as a local expert. Many OTAs will allow hoteliers to review and curate their points of interest, so be sure to leverage these tools to create a compelling profile.
Yet another opportunity to accurately set guest expectations, be sure to clearly state and keep up-to-date policies on topics such as cancellations, payment types, pets, etc. You should also detail any deposits and fees guests may incur. In most cases, this information appears in your profile alongside information on check-in and check-out times and optional extras
Tips for targeting travelers in an OTA marketplace
While your property listing will help you reach travelers who are a good fit for your property, OTAs will offer additional opportunities to help you target and engage travelers. Three options to consider include: