The Wall Street Journal takes a closer look on how OTAs are reordering hotel searches. For the Priceline Group and the biggest factor in search results is a hotel’s conversion rate. Hotels with strong reviews, good content, and images that include bathrooms and televisions - both of which apparently get checked frequently by travelers - end up with higher conversion rates, and higher rankings in search results. Expedia uses three main signals in personalizing hotel search results: Consumer behavior, like what consumers click and buy, search intent, like searching for rooms that accommodate families, and customer reviews collected by email after checkout. And of course there is the price, which has a lot to do with OTA visibility. If the price represents good value for a particular hotel, it will generate a higher conversion, and as a result gets ranked higher within the search results. Although not stated publicly, the same applies for higher commissions. If a hotel participates in higher commissioned programs, it will gain more visibility and end up higher in search results. The problem: If you’re not performing, OTAs have the means to punish hotels to the lower pages of search results - or as The WSJ calls it - no man’s land for bookings. That paper cites Expedia’s CEO saying “To the extent we see the experience being poor or a significant amount of walks, we will penalize the hotel in sort order.” All this sorting in the name of customer preferences will get even more sophisticated according to The WSJ, as personalization based on OTAs massive database with reviews and preferences kicks in, and mobile hotel bookings increase in popularity, where small screens make sort order even more critical. What are hotels to do? Several major hotel chains declined to comment, when The WSJ approached them. A far too sensitive topic to publicly talk about. Only AH&LA responded with a warning, that consumers should be skeptical of OTAs that don’t disclose the criteria used for rankings. Get the full story at The Wall Street Journal and WSJ Video.