When it comes to hotel marketing, there is never a dull moment, in particular when it relates to online distribution. For the past decade, it’s been an ongoing tug-of-war between hoteliers and online travel agencies, better known as OTAs, such as Expedia, Booking, Orbitz or Travelocity, not to mention Google, TripAdvisor or even Amazon (for a brief moment, in 2015). And I won’t even mention that whole other debate about the sharing space, with HomeAway, Airbnb, OneFineStay and all the action happening on that front, along with mergers and acquisitions between large hotel chains. As I was saying, never a dull moment!
Why book direct?
Yet, while this action is a reality travel industry pundits are familiar with, the same cannot be said for the general public. Ask 10 people what is the best way to get a good vacation deal, and you will get 10 different answers. Not everybody has the same definition for a “deal”, to begin with. And not everyone seeks a travel experience based on price alone. Nevertheless, there is a majority of people out there that believe they will get a better deal when making a reservation through Expedia or Booking.com, rather than by dealing directly with hoteliers.
Why this misconception? Well, for one thing, it hasn’t always been a misconception. Better fares could be found on OTA sites, and even today this can happen, even though it’s far from being the norm. Truth is, for more than a decade, OTA were left almost alone in aggressively marketing through various online channels, developing savvy pay-per-click campaigns, remarketing tactics, social media and various iterations for their mobile applications. In fact, Expedia and Priceline together are estimated to represent 5% of global revenues for Google, with a combined spend of more than 8 billion dollars in 2015!