hotels prevent brandjacking

Your Hotel Can Prevent Brandjacking

It’s easier than you might think to prevent brandjacking.

As a hotelier, that might seem incredible. After all, OTAs seem to have almost entirely cornered the market when it comes to bookings. They take commission after commission on thousands and thousands of bookings every single day.

Yet, you do all the hard work. It’s your drive and passion that fuels the hotel. You provide the top-quality care and consideration for all your guests. And it is you that forms long-lasting connections with returning guests to ensure they return for more.

Yet OTAs are the ones who take credit, and they do it by brandjacking. When it comes to brandjacking – they are experts.

So let’s review how your Hotel can take back control from the OTAs. We’ll cover how they go about their job, and then show you how to prevent brandjacking.

You deserve direct bookings, after all.

What Is Brandjacking?

Brandjacking is not exclusive to hotels. Unfortunately it can happen in an incredible number of business sectors and industries.

Essentially, a different entity assumes the identity (or parts thereof) of another company, individual or brand. They do this via a variety of means, but the end goal is to redirect that company/individual/brand’s business to themselves.

When it comes to the hotel industry, it means that OTAs are constantly forcing online traffic to go via their own websites, rather than to the hotel’s own website. This means that they earn a constant influx of profit from commissions.

And that you lose out on those direct bookings.

How OTAs Brandjack Hotels

Let’s take a look through an example of how the Hotel Hiberia has been brandjacked (at least on the date that this article was written!) We will walk through the customer journey and highlight the ways that the hotel is losing out on direct bookings due to brandjacking.

Our Scenario:

We are desperate to visit Rome, and after our friends stayed at the incredibly magical hotel Hiberia, we decide to stay there as well (after all, recommendations are the most trusted form of marketing!) 

The next stage is a quick Google search for “Book hotel hiberia rome” and this is what we see.

Hotel Hiberia Brandjacking


This is what we see. Immediately Booking is the first result that we see, so clearly Hotel Hiberia failed to prevent brandjacking. To make matters worse, from a guest point of view – is amazing. They have information about the hotel, the facilities, amenities, location, prices and much more – so why would they continue searching for your own website?

Already, Booking has taken a wide swathe of guests that didn’t scroll down to find Hotel Hiberia’s personal website. To make matters worse, Booking actually provides alternative recommendations to customers on their site. They happily display other hotels and a range of deals that may tempt guests to another, cheaper hotel.

Once Booking have your guest – they don’t care which hotel they book at. Booking simply wants the commission.

Now let’s take a different step – instead of going directly on the Booking site, let’s go to “Check Availability” to see the Google listings and Hotel Ads – surely the Hotel Hiberia has done better on that page!

Hiberia Brandjacking Google Listing Paid


Uh-oh. It looks like Booking, Hotels, Expedia and Priceline with their vast resources have ads running for this hotel. Yet another large group of guests are swallowed up here by their desire to book at the Hotel.

Maybe further down the list we’ll see Hotel Hiberia? There is an unpaid section just down below:

Hiberia brandjacking Google listing free


Unfortunately no matter how far we scroll down – their official website just isn’t there. It is one thing to be outbid on your Hotel Ads, but it is quite another to not have your official website listed at all.

How many direct bookings do you think the Hotel Hiberia receives in comparison to bookings through OTAs?

So let’s take a look at how to stop brandjacking.


How Hotels Can Prevent Brandjacking

The first is most obvious, but it remains a good reminder to every good hotelier.

Maximise Your Hotel SEO To Prevent Brandjacking

Hotel websites are (or atleast should be) a veritable smorgasbord of images. You have professional photography of the different aspects available at your hotel, from the luxurious rooms to an irresistible spa. 

But if you haven’t optimised those images, you are damaging your SEO.

Your search engine optimisation is what allows you to appear higher up on Google Search results – and that let’s you compete with OTAs. 

A complete guide to Hotel SEO is an extensive article in the making. However, in the meantime, check out our brief coverage of Hotel SEO here to learn what else affects your Hotel SEO.

List Your Hotel Everywhere

Tourist offices, popular travel bloggers (traveloggers) that review hotels are just a few, but we have something more in mind. 

As we saw with Hotel Hibernia earlier – their website wasn’t even on the Google listing for their own Hotel. This registration doesn’t cost, but it can vastly increase direct bookings – especially when the little “official website” button appears next to the link. 

Google also now offers Free Hotel Ads to hotels. This isn’t half as effective as running your own promotional campaign and bidding on your own keywords, but it certainly makes a difference. 

It’s completely free, and let’s be honest – every little helps.

Check if Rate Parity Is Enforced

For years rate parity was enforced across most countries, however that is no longer the case.

Rate Parity locks hotels into keeping their room prices the same across the board. So direct bookings and a booking through an OTA cost the customer exactly the same – but you pay the OTA a commission.rate-parity

Now, more and more countries have given freedom to Hotels to alter their prices to suit their own plans. We’ve written a review of Rate Parity, so make sure to see if you are on the list of countries with this freedom.

If you are, then you have a new ability to combat OTAs.

Direct Booking Incentive

This is generally directed at returning guests, or guests who are booking because of a recommendation, but offering incentives for direct bookings works wonders.

It doesn’t have to be much – a bottle of champagne, $10 credit at the hotel bar, a discounted spa session etc. You’ll find that these not only provide the guests with a much more positive experience at your Hotel, but is often one of their main memories of their stay.

Compared to everything else you do, it may seem small, but for your guests it means a great deal. 

Curious To See If Your Hotel Can Prevent Brandjacking?

Obviously each hotel has specific needs, no problem has a one-size-fits-all solution. That is where we come in.

Don’t worry, we offer a completely free audit of your Hotel’s online presence. No strings, no payments, just a quick report of what your hotel needs to work on. 

It takes just 20 minutes to have a conversation with us, and you will leave with a greater understanding of your hotel marketing problems. Simply click the “free marketing audit” button and a member of our team will get back to you as soon as we can!

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