The OTA Debate-Will The Outdoor Industry Ever Understand?
One of the most hotly debated topics at this year's ARVC convention was over the use of OTA's (Online Travel Agencies). Passion ran high on both sides of the debate-and often the facts were lost in the mix.
We at AOS are firm believers in using OTA's as a revenue generation tool. Let's put it this way-if power brands like Marriott and Holiday Inn believe they must be on the OTA's to compete-then YOU must be on them to compete.
Take Air BnB for example. Statista 2019 shows that by year 2022 Air BB will have 46.5 Million users. Currently, they have 41.1 million. AOS parks on Air BB rent their roofed accommodations 85% of the time on Air BB or VRBO. This is 85% worth of business that they would likely not have if not for the OTA's. This number is astonishing and not to be ignored.
Some of the typical arguments against OTA's go something like this..
If we go on OTA's we are competing with hotels and we cannot win.
False-If we can get a guest out of a hotel into a cabin with outdoor space, a yard, and a great experience, we rarely if ever lose them back to a hotel.
Campers do not use OTA's.
False-As stated above, a vast majority of our cabins accommodations are booked on OTA's. This is fact.
OTA's create "Price Wars" between parks and should be avoided.
False-OTA's allow you the ability to highlight your amenities and attractions to a market looking for experiences rather than stays. Connecting your park to OTA's helps you reach that audience and show why you are better at offering an experience rather than just a bed.
Whether we like it or not, OTA's are here to stay. If you do not get on them, your competitor will, and you will lose guests due to your reluctance to embrace change and move to where the industry has long been headed. We can stick our head in the sand, or we can move to the future and make money all along the way.