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Control OTAs Rates and Availability

ThinkReservations syncs reservations from OTAs, and rates, restrictions, and availability to OTAs. Using a rate type, you can control the price, restrictions, rooms, and dates that you choose to share with the Online Travel Agents (OTAs) that you partner with. We typically do this with one or more "OTA Rate" rate types.

You can find your rate types in ThinkReservations > Settings > Rate Types

Please note that your OTA Rates are not automatically linked to another rate you have in ThinkReservations. When you make changes to your Best Available Rate that you wish to mirror on your OTA Rate, you will need to update the OTA Rate(s) separately. Use the Copy... button to make this task fast.

Once connected to one or more OTAs: rates, restrictions, and availability are synchronized automatically and in near real-time. If availability changes, Booking.com, Expedia, and Airbnb will be notified.  If a reservation comes in from an OTA, you will see it immediately on your ThinkReservations calendar (and you will be notified about it via email). If prices change on the OTA Rate, the system will update the OTA.

How to confirm the rate types(s) associated with your OTAs

In ThinkReservations, navigate to Settings and click on the OTA you are connected to you wish to check on. For example, if you would like to check your Booking.com room connections, or "mapping", click on Booking.com under Channel Management on the left.

You will then be taken to the Booking.com configuration page. Note the blue box below that outlines the OTA Rate from ThinkReservations.

In the above image, you will see example data. The blue box indicates where you will find the name of the Rate Type found in ThinkReservations that is associated or "mapped" to the corresponding rate type on Booking.com. This example has two rate types, but your property may only have one.

This process is nearly identical for Expedia. Navigate to ThinkReservations > Settings > Expedia

To confirm the rate type associated with your connected Airbnb listings, navigate to ThinkReservation > Settings > Airbnb
Note the blue box in the below image.

In the above image, you can see that if you wanted to update rates and restrictions for Airbnb, you would need to update the "Airbnb Rate" rate type. The names of the rate types are arbitrary.

Updating the OTA Rate

Now that you have learned that ThinkReservations uses one or more Rate Types to send the pricing, restrictions, and availability to the OTAs you know where to go to make the changes. The process for updating your OTA Rate(s) is the same as updating your Best Available Rate. Click here to learn how to work with rate types in a short 7-minute video.

If a room/date in your OTA Rate does not have a price, then it will show as unavailable or sold out on Booking.com, Expedia.com, and Airbnb. That is how you control whether you want to show availability -- by configuring or removing the price! If you set the price to 0, you are selling it for free.

Updating the Rate(s) Associated with your OTAs


The rate or rates associated with your OTA connections are not automatically updated or tied to other rate types you have in ThinkReservations. This means that you will need to manage them separately, but it also means that you don't have to have the same deposit policy, rates, or restrictions that you have already programmed for other rate types. Note that Yield Management rules are rate specific also.

Once you copy your rates and restrictions from another rate type (likely your Best Available Rate), you may choose to then "Simple Select" and then "Modify" what you have just copied to be a certain dollar or percentage amount lower or higher.

  ► Related: Setting Room Rates
 

Turning the OTA "on" for certain dates: Set Pricing
  1. Click on Settings -> Rate Types. Click on 'OTA Rate' 
  2. Click on 'Rates & Restrictions'.
  3. Set prices for dates that you want to be open on the OTA.
  4. To configure large date ranges of your prices, it's easiest to copy your prices from your Best Available Rate. To do so, select the gray "Copy..." button on the top right.
  5. Choose to copy or import from your Best Available Rate (4) or other rate. Choose your dates, select the rooms and days of the week you want (5). Make sure 'Price' is checked under Restrictions (6).
  6. Click on "Copy" to import the rates.
  7. You can now adjust the prices or minimums that were just copied over if you wish. (See here for more on that or the above-referenced video.)
  8. Check your work! Click Save on the top right when done.
Turning the OTA "off" for certain dates: Remove pricing.
  1. Open the rate type that you are syncing to the OTAs. Click on Settings -> Rate Types. Click on your OTA Rate.
  2. Click on 'Rates & Restrictions'.
  3. We want to remove prices for dates we want to turn off. To do so, we'll select the dates and then remove the price.
  4. Click on 'Simple Select' on the top right. Choose your dates, select the rooms and days of the week you want to make unavailable to the OTAs. Click on Select. This will highlight your selection in blue.
  5. Click on Modify on the top right. Chose the circle next to 'Set to' and then DELETE the 0 in the box below. The box should be ENTIRELY empty.
  6. Click Update to remove the pricing for the selected rooms and dates.
  7. Check your work. Once you are done, click Save on the top right.

A note about the Coupon Code:

We use a random coupon code to prevent guests from seeing this rate type on your website. (The only way a guest would see this rate type would be if they entered the exact same random coupon code.) The Coupon Code is found under the QUALIFIER section of the General Information tab of a rate type.

Strategy 1: Control your Rate

As you raise your OTA Rate, you will get less bookings from OTAs. Think of your rooms that sell very well. Think of your most popular holidays or weekends that book up in advance. You don't need as much help from the OTAs so getting less OTA bookings is the desired result. However, when you do get an OTA booking, it's at a price point you are happy with.

We recommend that you spend 15 minutes at least once a week to manually adjust your rates that you offer your guests that book direct and the rates that you offer on your connected OTAs. This time spent is very valuable in your business as it allows you to stay current with the booking trends and pace. The changes in supply and demand should also impact your pricing. When it comes to the OTAs, you likely have unique rate types, such as an OTA Rate where you can share a different rate to the connected OTAs. This can be done effectively with a combination of:

  • Working with automatic rate adjustment rules / Yield Management rules
  • Manually adjusting rates for your typical booking window

Yield Management Rules are set in the light blue bar at the top of the edit rate type window. They are specific for each rate type to give you maximum control. Below is an example of a typical Yield Management Rule found in an OTA Rate.

It has a single rule that increases the prices found in the Rates & Restrictions tab by 15%, all the time.

If you raise your rate by 22%, you will net the same after 18% paid in commissions.

Here is a more complicated set up. The image below shows how when the property is busy, the rate goes up, and when the guest is booking far in advance, the rate goes up. But when the property is slow or the guest is booking last-minute, the rate only goes up a small amount.

When you need to update your OTA Rate's base rate to match changes you've made on your Best Available Rate, you don't need to update or change your Yield Management Rules.

Strategy 2: Promotions on the OTA

Some clients increase the rate significantly using a Yield Management Rule, and then offer a promotion on the OTA directly. This causes the guest to see a higher perceived value for your property and a deal at the same time. Some OTAs promote promotions differently, so make sure to experiment with this if you are going to attempt this strategy. Note that if you have a higher perceived value for your property, you will need to make sure to deliver on that with your guests.

Here is an example. Let's say that your room normally sells for $200, and you increase the rate by 30% to the OTA. On the OTA, you offer a 10% special. Maybe this special runs all the time, maybe not. The prospective guest would see a room that looks like it normally sells for $260, on sale for only $234. You would net $192 after 18% in commissions.

Strategy 3: Control your Availability

When adjusting your availability, keep in mind that not all rooms for all dates have to be the same. You might keep in mind your most popular rooms and remove them from the OTAs - until the week of. With this strategy, you only release availability for your most popular room(s) when you are less confident you will sell it directly on your own. If you remove all availability for a certain date, you will show as sold out on sites that aggregate data from the OTAs such as Google and Tripadvisor as well as the OTAs themselves. The typical guest is not going to search you specifically out if you are listed on Sold Out when there are other choices with availability presented to them. Offering only your least popular room(s) for a higher price may be a better strategy. Some businesses can afford to remove more availability than others. Experiment to see what works best for you to strike the perfect balance of direct bookings and commissionable OTA bookings.

Strategy 4: Control your Restrictions

If you have a special weekend where you have a 3-night minimum, remember that the OTA Rate can have a 4-night or longer minimum. If you have a busy weekend where you typically get 3 and 4 night stays, you likely don't need as much help from the OTAs. Consider adjusting your minimum night stay requirements to be more strict for those special days. As the date approaches, you can relax the restriction on your Best Available Rate, and then your OTA Rate to help fill vacant rooms.

You can also apply a 2-night minimum when you have no other minimum for those that book direct. When, how often, and what rooms you apply these minimums are up to you.

As a reminder: If your business has a two-night minimum on weekends, you will make sure to check all those boxes when using the Copy... function when importing rate and restrictions changes made on your Best Available Rate.


The best strategy for one business might not work at all for another. You must experiment and find what works for you. Likey, a combination of the above strategies will help you get started with creating your own.

Highly Recommended: Have Your Way With the OTAs Webinar


 

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