This question comes up continually in nearly every group, forum, and seminar covering vacation rentals. If you already have 100% occupancy via direct booking you can stop reading. Our recommendation for everyone else: use them all – or at least all of them you care to use. Technology makes it relatively easy to synchronize your pricing and availability across multiple channels and calendars in this day and age. You will make more money if you take advantage of that technology to list on multiple channels.
Each of the Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) comes with its particular hurdles and pitfalls, but no individual owner, or even regional property manager, can compete for marketing and reach. Listing on the OTAs will increase your reach. Use the OTAs – and we mean to use them, not just to list on them, but use them to reach an audience you may never find otherwise. Once you capture that audience do everything you possibly can to convert not only them into repeat guests but then use those guests to refer their family, friends, colleagues, and associates to your direct booking website.
The reason shopping malls have historically been popular with merchants is that malls increase foot traffic. Think of the OTA as a mall for your short term rental. The more potential guests browsing past the storefront, the better your chance to increase bookings.
If you convert a few inquiries from OTAs to a direct booking that is great but the real payoff of using the OTAs is having a larger pool of guests to market to and through for the future. Our guest referral program does exactly this for vacation rental owners.
Not sure where to start or have questions? Answer a few questions here and we can help.