The company’s research revealed that a further 24 per cent of organic listings for search terms like ‘hotel in [location]’ are taken up by large national hotel chains, leaving only one per cent of results to independents.
Independent hotels and groups get a little more space in paid listings, as OTAs occupy the same percentage but chains only form 19 per cent, leaving six per cent available for others.
Ian Miller, search director at Crafted, said: “The internet makes it easy for travellers to find and book hotels, but if the majority of the Google results are filled with links to comparison sites, consumers are more likely to book via these third parties.
“Although OTAs can be great tools to fill rooms last minute, sales via these sites can involve significant commissions, which can impact profit margins in an already competitive marketplace.
“OTAs often have large media budgets, expansive digital marketing teams and a strong brand presence. Although it would be difficult to play these sites at their own game, independent hotels can use their agility and unique offerings to outwit them, with the right digital strategy in place.”
Strategy for independents
Crafted has released a free practical guide to help independent hoteliers become more visible in Google searches. It advises them to use tools such as Google + Local, mentions on other websites such as directories and blogs, and customer reviews to optimise organic search results.
For paid searches, Crafted suggests bidding on search terms for pay-per-click ads – something already recommended by BrandVerity last month – or remarketing to users having already visited the hotel’s website but not made a booking.
Though the research by Crafted focused on Google UK, according to BrandVerity this search engine is the one where OTAs are least present – at least in searches containing a trademark name. According to the firm, OTAs advertise a lot more against trademark search terms on platforms like Yahoo, Bing and AOL.