Other digital marketing channels

Contentsan open laptop with a mug in the foreground

  1. TripAdvisor and online review sites
  2. Online Travel Agents (OTAs) and Travel Metasearch Engines
  3. Tourism Exchange GB (TXGB)


Online travel agents (OTAs), online review sites and holiday booking sites are all other digital marketing channels you can explore as part of your digital marketing strategy.


TripAdvisor and online review sites

A tourism industry study in 2018 found 69% of travellers used online reviews, with just over half also using personal, word-of-mouth recommendations. A global Tripadvisor and Ipsos Mori study in 2019 showed 72% of travellers used online reviews for decisions on where to visit, eat and stay.

TripAdvisor is the best-known provider of reviews in the travel and tourism sector; although, other sites including Google, Facebook, Yelp and Opentable all have a foothold in this space. All offer a platform for members of the public to provide feedback on hotels, restaurants, attractions and tourism businesses.

While the accuracy and fairness of online reviews is debatable, there’s no avoiding their influence, so like it or not, it’s essential to have a strategy for engaging with them. Getting online reviews – both good and bad – is part of digital marketing. When responding, it’s important to remain calm and measured – anything you say online can be swiftly shared and easily taken out of context.

TripAdvisor works similarly to Google My Business. The first step is to claim your business listing and get verified as the owner, after which you can update your profile by adding photos, opening times, prices and other essential details. Most importantly, once registered, you can also respond to customers’ reviews.

Like other platforms, TripAdvisor also offers paid advertising options, known as Sponsored Placements which push your business to the top of the listings. These work in a similar way to Google Ads, with set budgets and opportunities to put in special offers.

TripAdvisor has also moved into the OTA space, with guests able to make bookings and experiences directly through the site.


Online Reviews checklist

  1. Search for “{your business name} reviews” across search engines.
  2. Take note of the frequency, comments and ratings on all platforms.
  3. Claim your listing on TripAdvisor through their Owner page. This is free to do.
  4. Fill out all details of your listing, paying close attention to images – particularly your main listing image.
  5. Positive reviews can help your search engine ranking. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews, for example by adding a button on your website or social media feed.
  6. It is important to acknowledge reviews, both positive and negative. Engaging with customers is more likely to have a positive outcome and encourage them to return.
  7. Be careful when writing your response to bad reviews, as tone can be difficult to convey online.
  8. If you receive a negative review, consider the following format when formulating a response: Acknowledge, Defuse, Detail, Resolve. It’s often best to acknowledge publicly and offer to continue the conversation privately.
  9. Use reviews to identify any customer service issues and, if appropriate, rectify the problem.

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Case study: Exmoor Character Cottages

"Our digital marketing budget now accounts for more than 60% of our marketing spend.

My advice is to be realistic: start small, allocate a small budget and measure, measure, measure. If something doesn’t work, stop it and try something else. It’s better to concentrate on attracting a smaller number of the right people, genuinely interested in your business, than try and attract thousands of followers. Digital marketing isn’t about instant results, so don’t expect lots of bookings to happen straight away from one advert – customer relationships need nurturing to engender trust: that isn’t any different online." 

Lucy Green, Exmoor Character Cottages

Lucy Green, Exmoor Character Cottages, Somerset

Online Travel Agents (OTAs) and Travel Metasearch Engines

Online Travel Agents (OTAs) aggregate availability and pricing for thousands of hotels into one platform. The most common examples are the hotel booking websites such as Booking.com, Hotels.com and Expedia, as well as TripAdvisor.

The OTA takes payment for the booking and collects customer details, then passes these on to the accommodation provider and charges a commission.

Metasearch engines are websites like Kayak, Trivago and SkyScanner, which aggregate search results from many other sites. Typically, a user selects a product from the results, then clicks through to a booking site (usually an OTA) to complete their purchase. The metasearch site then charges a commission for the referral.

Airbnb and Vrbo

Since launching in 2008, AirBnB has become one of the most powerful platforms in the online accommodation space.

It is mainly geared towards holiday properties, apartments and bed and breakfasts, although increasingly some hotels are using the platform for bookings too. It now has more than 7 million listings, 2.9 million hosts and a presence in more than 220 countries.

A standard listing on AirBnB is free, with enhanced listings also available for a fee. In general, hosts pay 3% commission on any booking, while guests pay around 14.2%.

The main competitor to AirBnB is Vrbo, which operates on a broadly similar model. It is now part of Expedia Group, which also own a number of other influential travel sites including Trivago, Travelocity, Eviivo, Homeaway and Orbitz.

Like OTAs, the main advantage with AirBnB is the exposure it gives – the user base is enormous and is likely to generate far more bookings than you would be able to achieve on your own. Guests and hosts both have the opportunity to review each other after their stay.


OTA and Travel Metasearch Checklist

  1. Evaluate the costs and rewards: are the extra bookings your receive worth the extra fees you have to pay? OTA and metasearch bookings attract commission, so while they may generate extra revenue, you will also have to pay added fees.
  2. Consider the impact of OTA pricing on your own bookings – OTA sites often offer deals, discounts and loyalty schemes that can be hard to match.
  3. Check how your existing booking systems will connect with OTAs and metasearch providers. OTAs work best with an automatic feed, usually a channel manager. This connects to your property management system (PMS), which then controls the distribution across a variety of online channels.
  4. Create (or claim) your listings and ensure all details are accurate and up-to-date.
  5. Invest in good quality photography (and possibly video) to make your property stand out and invest some time in writing up your listing properly.
  6. Respond to customer reviews and leave your own reviews where appropriate.

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Case study: Cornish Rock Tors

"In our industry, and probably in the tourism sector as a whole, there is a tendency to only have time to think about marketing in the off-season. Consistency is key. We’ve been operating for over fifteen years and have been showing up consistently on our social channels, week in and week out, for over five years now.

Our digital communications have a higher ratio of informative or entertaining content compared to straight sales messages. We share activity tips, facts about the ocean and the flora and fauna that live in it, relevant adventure stories and local history. This develops a relationship that leads to sales without pushing them, and when we do explicitly include a call to action to book with us, we feel we’ve earned the right to put that in front of people."

people cliff jumping off the coast of Cornwall

Cornish Rock Tors, Cornwall. Credit: Mat Arney

Tourism Exchange GB (TXGB)graphic of two people next to a giant smartphone with 24/7 above

TXGB was launched in partnership with VisitEngland to provide the UK tourism industry with a central marketplace, enabling tourism businesses to trade, collaborate and innovate. 

TXGB makes it easier than ever to be bookable online and share your products, live availability and prices with distributors, in order to find new customers and drive sales.

You can connect your own booking system, or use the free built-in tool TXLoad, and choose to connect to a wide variety of sales channels, from niche distributors to well known global brands all from one simple dashboard. 

By accessing a wider distribution network and a growing list of unique opportunities, TXGB enables accommodation providers, visitor attractions and experiences to get their products in front of domestic and international visitors from one place. 

The benefits of using TXGB:

  • Improve your cash flow and productivity as payment is made directly, in advance for bookings. 
  • TXGB offer less admin and more automation, enabling tourism businesses to be part of lower average commission booking channels, so you can be less reliant on OTAs
  • It’s easy to join. The TXGB team provide full support to help you set up your account, connecting either via their booking system or directly using TXLoad (a free to use inventory loading software that can power supplier websites and social media channels and connect to distribution channels).
  • TXGB is free for tourism businesses to join. There are no set-up fees or monthly subscription charges payable until suppliers start to receive bookings through new channels they’ve selected.  Simply pay a 2.5% booking fee to TXGB, plus chosen distributor commission only when you receive a booking.
  • TXGB is based on real time two way sharing of data, which means suppliers send availability and prices and receive bookings directly into their booking system with full customer data.
  • You can extend your reach to distribution channels you may not otherwise have access to, which are all completely optional and controlled by your TXGB dashboard.

How do I sign up to TXGB?

It’s easy to sign up at the TXGB website.

TXGB takes a booking fee of 2.5% + VAT at the time of booking; remember you will also need to factor in commission fees from the distributor. If no booking is made, there’s no fee.

Payments are made directly to your registered bank account as soon as the booking is made. TXGB automatically handles distributor commissions and booking fees from other sites.

Visit txgb.co.uk and follow these simple steps to get connected:

  1. Click Apply Now to reach the Get Connected Wizard
  2. Select your booking system from those shown, or select alternative connection options to connect manually with TX Load
  3. Enter your bank details so TXGB can collect fees owed for bookings to distributors, making the process hassle free for you
  4. Link your stripe account (or easily register), so you can receive payment for bookings directly from consumers, through our direct payment distribution partners.
  5. TXGB will then email your username and password for access to your TXGB dashboard.  The team will get in touch with you straight away to help with the next steps.

TXGB and Google’s Hotel Ads 

TXGB have a partnership with Google so accommodation suppliers can include booking links in searches for free once they are connected to TXGB, whether they are using Google Ads or not. Link live availability and prices so consumers can find and book your property through Google Hotels, Search and Maps. 

To take advantage of this, you need to claim and update your business's Google MyBusiness listing. Then simply connect to TXGB via your own booking system (or the TXGB inbuilt loading software TXLoad) and share live availability and pricing. There is no set-up fee, just the 2.5% TXGB booking fee.

Sign up at the TXGB website.

You can also find explaination videos of how TXGB works on the TXGB YouTube channel.

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