Whether you have a spare room in your home, want to fill an apartment, or you’re the owner of a new hotel — whatever the case may be, you’ll want to advertise your property on an Online Travel Agency (OTA), wholesaler or a metasearch channel.
The good news is that there is no shortage of booking sites but not every booking site is suitable for every property type.
This article answers your most frequently asked questions: What are the best hotel booking sites in 2022? Which booking sites are suitable for my property? How much does it cost to list my property? Can I advertise on multiple booking sites at the same time?
Let’s dive in!
What Are the Different Types of Hotel Booking Sites?
Metasearch: A metasearch channel lets travellers compare hotel room rates from various online travel agencies (OTAs) and other booking sites. Google Hotel Ads is the most popular metasearch channel that directs travellers to the hotel’s website.
Global Distribution System: A GDS is an online network for companies within the travel industry. It takes information (inventory, price, and availability) from suppliers (airlines, hotels, cruise lines, car rentals) and makes it available to distributors (travel agents and tour operators.)
Online Travel Agency: OTAs, also known as Online Travel Agencies, are third-party websites consumers use to research and book travel-related products and services. On a B2B level, OTAs are used for online distribution and generating brand awareness.
Wholesaler: Wholesalers, also known as bedbanks, are middlemen between travel suppliers (hotel) and OTAs/travel agents. It sources the hotel room nights in bulk, packages them, negotiates rates, and then sells them to OTAs and travel agents.
What Is the Best Online Travel Agency for Your Property?
When it comes to distribution, it's essential to take a bird's eye view of your booking channels and their respective strengths and weaknesses. For instance, one channel may deliver many bookings, but cancellations are more common, whereas another channel may be geared towards young travellers with limited budgets and result in lower RevPAR.
Take a look at our analysis of the best hotel booking websites in 2022 below. RoomRaccoon integrates with over 100 booking channels!
Hotelbeds is one of the most popular wholesalers in the hotel industry. By connecting to Hotelbeds, your property will gain unrivalled exposure to the world’s travel trade, including more than 3,500 tour operators, over 65,000 travel agents, 40+ airlines, and various OTAs. They allow you to sell rooms and ancillary products and services.
It's common for hotels to use wholesalers to get a hold of high-value clients and a lot of hotels go with wholesalers because of the extensive opportunities they provide. For example, they can give you a chance to reach out to clients you're unfamiliar with or unable to reach otherwise — and with their collective knowledge, they can get your products in front of buyers who may not have known about you otherwise.
Africa is one of the fastest-growing regions for tourism globally, and accommodation operators take advantage of this by selling their inventory on Africa's biggest hotel booking site - SafariNow. According to the WEF Competitiveness Index 2019, Mauritius, South Africa, Seychelles, Morocco, and Namibia are the top five African countries for travel.
SafariNow gives hosts and hotel managers the choice to accept bookings via 'instant book' or deal directly with guests using the 'request a quote' function. SafariNow says that shorter stays with one activity are booked most frequently. For example, 2 Night Kruger Park Safari Package.
3. Google Hotel Ads
Google Hotel Ads are especially an excellent option for independent properties looking to capture more direct bookings and compete more effectively with more prominent players. The pricing structure is flexible as it operates on a metasearch model, meaning that hotels pay for performance on a cost-per-click or cost-per-conversion basis.
Unlike OTAs, which don’t provide guest contact information with bookings, direct bookings enable you to collect contact information at the time of reservation. You can start building relationships with guests right away, emailing a confirmation and a pre-check-in message with add-ons to elevate their stay.
LateRooms is a niche OTA that specialises in providing hotel bookings for travellers all over the UK. LateRooms is part of the Snaptrip family that offers over 60,000 cottages, lodges, and apartments in England, Scotland, and Wales.
LateRooms is a long-standing hotel booking site that has remained competitive for 17 years. Its success is attributed to its special focus on customer service. According to LateRooms’ managing director, Andrew Pumphrey: “We certainly find people like the freedom we offer, and features such as paying at the hotel on departure and not online in advance.”
Watch this space. LateRooms aims to expand to markets such as Asia, the US, Scandinavia, Portugal, and Holland, and growing business in Australia and New Zealand.
If you’re an accommodation provider who wants to target the Asian market, particularly China, Trip.com is the right booking site. Trip.com, previously known as Ctrip, owns 46.6% of China’s online accommodation booking market, with 70,000 hotel listings.
Approximately 75% of Trip.com bookings are made on mobile. A recent study by Criteo shows that Asia is far ahead of the rest of the world with its mobile booking rates for hotels. With up to 49% in Asia, Europe ranks at 33%, and North America just 28%.
Hostels generally appeal to a younger, mobile generation. Approximately 70% of hostel bookings are made online, which is higher than any other accommodation type like hotels.
Hostelworld is a leading global OTA focused on the hostel market. The company inspires passionate travellers to see the world, meet new people and come back with extraordinary stories to tell. The hotel booking site has over 13 million verified reviews from young travellers, typically between the ages of 18-and 39.
Hostelworld announced a swift increase in demand in the destinations where travel restrictions have eased in a year-end report. According to the report, during the second half of the year, Central America surpassed 2019 levels, with southern European destinations continuing growth to 60-80% of 2019 levels.
Airbnb arrived on the market in 2008 and completely changed the travel industry by making it possible for the everyday person to partake in accommodation distribution on a global scale. Today, the home-sharing giant is also famous in the hotel distribution space.
What sets Airbnb apart from other travel booking sites is that it gives hosts more power over the booking process. They can choose between “instant bookings” or “requested bookings” the latter allows the host to review the guest’s profile, read reviews from previous hosts, and use the provided information to confirm or deny the request.
The host can also choose between six different cancellation policies. Additionally, the company provides Host Protection Insurance and Host Guarantee for up to $1 million in damages.
Singapore-based Agoda, founded in Phuket in 2005, is one of the youngest and fastest-growing hotel booking website, with over 2-million properties worldwide.
As an Asia-focused OTA, Agoda's most significant advantage over its rivals comes from its relationships with Asian hotels and its share of inventory from its parent company, Booking Holdings Inc.
A survey by Agoda revealed that Indonesian travellers are looking to enhance their travel experience and demanding additional perks during their hotel stay. To help hotels meet these new traveller demands, Agoda recently introduced a new feature, Agoda Special Offers (ASO), so hotels can offer value-added benefits like breakfast, massages, recreation activities, snacks, and other perks.
Expedia.com is the leading OTA operated by Expedia Group, which has an extensive portfolio of brands to serve travellers' needs, including Hotels.com, Vrbo, Egencia, Trivago, and CarRentals.com. As such, Expedia Group offers a service called Expedia Partner Central that lists your property on its extensive OTA marketplace.
The travel giant has partnerships with 500+ airlines around the globe and is known as the top choice for travellers who are looking for vacation package deals, i.e., to select and pay for flights, accommodation, and car rental in one go.
If you're targeting North America and Asia travellers, you'll benefit from knowing that Expedia.com is particularly popular in these markets.
While it may not surprise many that the biggest hotel booking website in 2022 is Booking.com, it might be surprising that the OTA giant has emerged overwhelmingly as the dominant distribution channel for European hotels, according to a survey of more than 200 properties.
In 2021, Booking.com was the most downloaded online travel agency app and the third most downloaded travel app globally, only outranked by Google Maps and Uber. Approximately 63 million people use the app, and there are over 700,000 room nights reserved on Booking.com every day.
Travel demand is picking up; this was reflected in the recent quarterly figures published by Booking.com. Booking Holdings' total revenues for the 4th quarter of 2021 were $3.0 billion, an increase of 141% from the prior-year quarter. The total revenues in 2021 were $11.0 billion, a 61% increase from the prior year. This is good news for hotels, airlines, and any other business that operates in this field as it presents them with an opportunity to boost sales.
"Despite the negative impact on travel from the Omicron wave at the end of the fourth quarter, we delivered better revenue than our expectations for the quarter," said Glenn Fogel, Chief Executive Officer of Booking Holdings. I am encouraged by the meaningful improvement in bookings we have seen so far in the first quarter of 2022."
How to Use OTAs?
Now that you’ve learned about the best online travel agency for your hotel, you should know everything there is to know about selling on the booking site!
1. Rate parity
Rate parity is a legal agreement between a hotel and the OTA to provide the same rates for the same room on all the distribution channels. If you wanted to make up for high commission rates with a higher rate or decrease the rate on your website to motivate bookers to book direct, you're out of luck — rate parity prevents this.
Fortunately, rate parity clauses are now illegal in most of Europe.
2. Billboard effect
Direct bookings are still the best kind of bookings because you get to keep 100% of the profit and have more control over the guest experience.
So, how can you use OTAs to drive more direct bookings?
The OTA billboard effect is a natural phenomenon that occurs when travellers use an OTA for 'window shopping' but then divert to the hotel's website for a better deal or find out more information and book directly with the property.
3. Channel manager
We’ve mentioned that OTAs like Airbnb offers hosts the option to accept ‘instant bookings’ or ‘requested bookings/quotes.’ The latter works well if you’re selling limited inventory like an apartment or a bedroom in your house and have the time to accept or decline bookings manually.
On the other hand, the instant booking module is preferred by most accommodation providers as bookings are confirmed automatically, which means you no longer have to accept them manually or worry about expiring booking requests.
However, you will need to manage your room availability with a channel manager that syncs your availability across multiple OTAs to handle real-time bookings.
For instance, your distribution mix consists of Airbnb, Booking.com, Google Hotel Ads, and your website. When you receive a booking from Airbnb, the channel manager will instantly update your availability on Booking.com, Google Hotel Ads, and your booking engine to ensure there are no overbookings.
The bottom line
Every business needs a diverse stream of revenue, including direct and indirect sales. By tracking your bookings from an online travel agency with a channel manager, you'll be able to pull reports and see which are working and those that aren't — so that you can optimise your distribution mix accordingly.