Why hotels should fight back against online mirror marketingNews / DistributionBy Viewpoints | July 5, 2016Share This article was originally published on So, I bet if I ask you what your main concerns are as hoteliers when battling the online travel agencies, there would be two responses... The level of commissionThe stranglehold of rate parity Well, you have actually more to worry about. Let me point it out – in the small print I mean…NB: This is an analysis by Adrienne Hanna, founder and CEO of Right Revenue.This issue is known as Mirror Marketing – the fancy term for bidding on your name on the search engines.Yep, you know the way these pesky OTAs always seem to appear above you on Google when you search for your own hotel brand name – that is Mirror Marketing.(the search term here entered into Google was "Ritz Hotel London")So, right above your own brand name, OTAs are claiming that top spot. And guess what, not all our customers realise that they are not on your own site and are in fact being pushed off somewhere else.RealityI recently conducted a survey in a fantastic four-star resort hotel.Every guest who booked through an OTA was identified before check-in and asked (politely, of course) on arrival, why they had chosen to book online with another online provider and not with the hotel directly.Overwhelmingly most guests confirmed that they didn’t even realise that they were not on the hotel’s own website.Now that may seem crazy to us, but don’t forget, the link the OTAs are using with our hotel name at the end, takes a customer right through to information and availability on that specific hotel and NOT a search page with multiple hotels.So it could be within the realms of possibility that a lot of these people – if they are not frequent travellers, actually don’t understand the world of online travel agents and might just think they are booking directly.In short, we are all suffering in the name of mirror marketing.But the fact is this: you own your own name - your brand… your identity… your customer service and your guest satisfaction - so why do we allow these OTAs to use what is effectively our reputation to outshine us on Google?And let me make one thing abundantly clear – all these juicy commission cheques we write each month are not paying for the CEO’s Maserati or the posh, shiny offices in Silicon Valley – both of which they may have, but in fact the commission you are paying is actually funding their Pay Per Click campaigns to bid directly against you.You are actually paying them to outshine you on Google!Now, let me be clear: I am not against the OTAs. They provide us with marketing and customer reach we might never be able to achieve but shouldn’t we control what happens to our own brand online?Google's roleWe also all know that the Google landscape has changed and will continue to change.The room for paid ads has dropped with no advertising appearing on the right side now at all and only three ads instead of four at the top of the page.Yet if we go back to The Ritz example, you will see that Google is presenting so much information about our own hotels right at the top of the page that often guests don’t even need to come to our own site.Key information is right there – upfront and central, so we are again losing traffic to our own site. It is almost as if Google wants to keep our customers right where they want them. You think?Then you have the metasearch sites, and they are also hogging the next prime real estate.So where are you? Under the fold (meaning your customers need to scroll down the page to find you) if you are lucky, and if you are paying for that first page visibility.But please don’t be under any illusion… unless you are paying for the privilege, even on your own wonderful name, you seriously risk not appearing on the first page at all.And what does that mean? Well ask yourself when you shop, just how often do you search for anything past the first page?… and there you have your answer.Make no mistake, this is something that we can all challenge with the OTAs.Read the small print and challenge those clauses in the contract. Maybe it is time we all stepped up and were brave enough to be counted.NB: This is an analysis by Adrienne Hanna, founder and CEO of Right Revenue.NB2:Hotels mirror image via BigStock.