Drugs are a big problem in society.
But, did you know, the OTAs can also have a drug-like effect on your business, lulling you into a similar state of dazed stupor?
Let me explain.
Do you remember Homer’s Iliad from high school?
Specifically, the part where Odysseus almost got stuck in the Land of the Lotus Eater?
Quoting from the episode:
“The natives were extremely hospitable, giving my three scouts lotus to eat.
Immediately after devouring the plant, each comrade lost all desires to send back any message. They were intoxicated by the plant. Some part of it was acting as a drug, separating anyone intoxicated from the real world.
After sending countless numbers of crew mates to find the three lost men, I decided to venture out. I found all of the crew mates and drag them all the way back to the ship. They were extremely reluctant to leave, as if the natives had changed their inner ambitions.”
Believe it or not, the same thing is happening in your business right now.
You open inventory on the OTAs at the beginning of the month and, almost immediately, reservations start flowing in, giving you a little euphoric kick.
The next two weeks are spent welcoming guests and ‘riding out the high’.
Then, halfway through the month reality hits, you review your books and realize that as many as 50% of your OTA reservations have decided to cancel.
Unfortunately, by this point in the month you don’t have time to launch a direct booking campaign, so you either drop rates on HotelsTonight… or offer discounts across the board.
Then, when the end of the month rolls around, it’s time to do it all again – after sacrificing 20-25% of your bottom line to commissions.
“Beware the land of the Lotus Eater”. That’s a good motto to live by.
Anything that gives you an instant euphoria should be instantly suspect.
Because that creates an insatiable dependency.
Deferred payments lead to thoughtless spending.
And for every month you’re depending on others to do your marketing, you aren’t building your own distribution network, leaving yourself in a weak position for the next economic downturn.
But don’t get me wrong. I don’t think the OTAs are inherently evil.
Just like medicine, they can be used to heal a business that hasn’t figured out how to gain visibility on its own. They can be a stepping stone; a learning tool.
It all depends on how you see your relationship.
Which brings me to a question.
Can I ask: how do you see your relationship with the OTAs? What is it like now? How would you like it to be in the next 2 years? 3 years?
I’m writing an article for the trade publications on this subject next week and I’d really appreciate your input.
Just contact me and let me know.
All the best,
P.S. I’ll also give away a copy of my new book, Hospitality Marketing Synergy, for the most descriptive, no-holds-barred, I’d only tell this to a priest, OTA confession. So hit reply now and let’s hear it!