Who wins the “fight for booking” – hotels or online travel agencies?
November 18, 2020
Back in November 2017, over a year after many large U.S. hotels launched systematic direct bookings, a Caliber Labs report pointed to the fact that hotels were winning. Online travel agencies are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with increased competition. Collecting data from its database of more than 25.000 hotels in the United States, Caliber Labs found that there had indeed been a change in consumer behavior towards the hotel’s official website versus online travel agencies such as Booking and Expedition. More and more consumers prefer to book accommodation directly than through a third party. Source: Caliber Labs It is too early to declare the real winner of the so-called “battle for booking”, but if we had to single someone out, it would be consumers. With more choices and options, it is clear that in the end they are the real winners. So, if an independent hotelier can find a way for his business to thrive without the help of online travel agencies, that way will always be the most profitable. Attachment: Book Direct Campaigns 2.0: THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF LOYALTY 2018 But there are also third parties that threaten the duopoly of Booking and Expedition, and those are companies like Airbnb and Google. What happens when alternative or private accommodation services join the “fight”? And going beyond the “fight for booking”, the hotel industry must also understand that reservations are only one part of the battle. The industry must not forget the experience of guests, given that it is the main trigger of guest loyalty and motivator for their return. Source: Caliber Labs Not only do direct booking campaigns encourage consumers to book accommodation directly, but the study also showed that these campaigns are much more beneficial to hotel owners than previously thought. Direct booking campaigns generate more revenue for hotel owners, even with discounts, than online travel agencies do. So if hotels, or online travel agencies, really want to win the battle they have to take into account the product they offer, but also the overall experience that travelers have and how it changes their perception of the brand. Even with these large direct booking campaigns, consumers still feel that the best price for a hotel will be obtained at online travel agencies rather than on the hotel’s official website. In the tourism industry, the question often arises as to who wins the so-called “direct booking” wars. Are they hotels or travel agencies? Or Google or consumers? But some of the statistics suggest that trends are changing.