"No measurable impact" is the headline-grabbing finding from a study looking at whether direct bookings have any impact on the cost of distribution for hotels.
The report by Infrata will be seen as a boost to those extolling the virtues of online travel agencies in the face of increased efforts by hoteliers to secure more direct bookings because, they often claim, using online travel agencies is a more expensive way of getting customers.
Analysis by the consultancy found that there was a 0.03% difference in net profit to a hotel between direct and indirect channels.
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This was based on a figure of €80.92 for direct contribution and €80.94 for indirect on an industry average daily rate of €112.
Sceptics of the findings may well point to the sponsor of the study, the European Travel Technology Services Association, which counts the likes of Booking.com, Expedia, eDreams and the three main global distribution systems, Travelport, Sabre and Amadeus, as member organisations.
Truths, lies and statistics?
ETTSA says the "widely held belief" that direct distribution is cheaper for hotels than using third parties to obtain customers has been "debunked once and for all".
The Brussels, Belgium-based organisation's secretary general, Christoph Klenner, argues: "It seems the major incentive for hoteliers to push direct sales is to reduce transparency and comparability for consumers, reducing competition between hotels.
"Customers must be given the choice of which channels best suits their needs."
The report believes that the cost of moving bookings to the direct channel is marginal and "possibly negative" in terms of revenue for a property.
If a property was to axe its online travel agency channel from its distribution model, the report claims, there would be an insignificant change in overall net contribution to a hotel's bottom line.
In fact, it goes on, a hotel could face a drop in overall occupancy which would, in turn, require an increase in investment in direct customer acquisition, other marketing efforts and customer services, for example.
Citing the famous Billboard Effect Study by Cornell University, Infrata says hotels continue to feel the benefit of being displayed on online travel agency websites.
The report claims: "Up to 35% of hotel bookings can be attributed to guests finding out about a particular hotel, then booking directly with that hotel- known as the billboard effect.
"If the billboard effect did not exist, Brand.com would need to to compensate to regain the lost guests by increasing its SEO spending by between €7 and €10 per booking."
Online travel agencies are blessed with "efficient use marketing investments", the report says, meaning that the more they spend and the processes that they use gives them better placement in search engines, which it claims results in bookings for a property.
It says: "Consumers often use OTAs for initial research then book directly via Brand.com. 65% of Brand.com bookings come from consumers who first researched options via an OTA."
The so-called "unpaid marketing" for the hotels is billed as a benefit to hotels from their OTA partners.
The two dominant players in the market, Expedia Group and Booking Holdings, spent $5.3 billion and $4.1 billion respectively on performance advertising during 2017.
In response, Avvio CEO Frank Reeves, says: "While it’s important to understand that the sponsors of this report ‘ETTSA’ are directed by representatives of OTAs and online distributors, it would be wrong to make light of the need for hoteliers to fully understand - and tightly control - the relative costs of direct vs OTA bookings.
"It’s worth emphasising also that the hotel example used in the report is representative of the major chains rather than independents.
"There are important differences such as Franchise fees, CRS fees, loyalty etc. that are worth considering."
* Read the full report here.