Excerpt from Tnooz
I’m still surprised to find large parts of the hospitality sector who continue to stick out their bottom lip, stamp their feet and sulk their way through OTA relationships, while thinking nothing of continuing to buy their own airline tickets, hire cars or insurance using online consolidators.
‘Direct is best,’ ‘101 ways to avoid paying OTAs,’ and even ‘How to Win the OTA War’ are just a few of the headlines and industry advice columns I’ve witnessed with incredulity over the past several months.
Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, there appears to be a deep-seated resistance to the simple fact that hotel booking engines, while vitally important, are now secondary to OTAs.
There, I’ve said it. Although this will be painful for many to read, it should be of little surprise when you consider the habits of the millennial generation.
Millennials like OTAs — but so do other demographics
According to data from Expedia, millennials tend to be less brand loyal than their parents and appear to be drawn to the simplicity and choice offered by OTAs. In other words, they’re far more likely to book a hotel room via an OTA, which is important as they’re the biggest generation in existence.
However, it’s not all about the millennial generation. Our own statistics also reflect the habits, needs and wants of the modern day traveller.
During 2017, the Welcome Anywhere property management system processed £74m of hotel reservations. More than 50% of these bookings came from Booking.com, while the number of direct bookings decreased by almost £2m in value.
These figures may be alarming to some, but to us they offer a key insight into how the modern hospitality industry and its guests genuinely operate.
Hotels that cling to outdated rhetoric are effectively saying that they don’t want to provide what their prospective guests want. This is astonishing and no more out of step with the times than saying ‘sorry but we don’t take contactless payments.’
And then there’s the whole ‘cost of acquisition’ issue, which is easier to summarise than some might believe. The OTAs are the actual cost of acquisition these days. Period.
While the cost of using OTAs is often quoted as a negative, the cost of not using them gets little airtime. It’s absolutely possible for a hotel to market its rooms without OTAs, by taking a few small steps.
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