2016 will be remembered as the year that hotels finally decided to take a stand and follow words with action.
NB This is a viewpoint by Charlie Osmond, chief executive officer at Triptease.
Hoteliers big and small are finally sitting up and talking about the importance of direct bookings. Against the backdrop of OTAs facing a possible competition investigation, it’s clear that the tide is turning very much in hotels’ favour.
Whether the goal is to reduce OTA commissions, limit channel risk, negotiate fairer distribution contracts or gather juicy customer data, the merits of increasing direct bookings are clear and well known.
At IHIF in Berlin last month I heard from leading hotel sector bosses talking about what direct booking means for their business.
Richard Solomons, CEO of IHG argued that “as brands there’s no question that booking direct and having loyal customers is how we drive a lot of our incremental value” while Christopher Nassetta at Hilton added “There’s been a lot of damage done in the industry, creating a misconception […] of where value is”.
The push towards direct hotel bookings is a global trend. At the start of the year, respected industry research house Phocuswright told an event in Madrid that Spanish hoteliers were fighting back against the OTAs.
We’ve seen ground-breaking campaigns launched to address this, including Hilton’s “Stop Clicking Around” and Marriott’s “It Pays to Book Direct”. They’re everywhere. I’ve seen them in cinemas both in New York and in London and think they’re doing a great job of educating consumers about why they should book direct.
So the move to change consumer patterns is under way. But in order to exploit this change in how guests book their stay, there needs to be a corresponding change in how hoteliers operate.
Which initiatives will have the greatest impact and what are to be avoided? Can existing relationships be leveraged to drive more direct bookings? What mechanisms are in place for hoteliers to share best practice?
This shift to direct is something many hoteliers have fought long and hard to achieve. But the next battle - making sure this opportunity is not wasted - is where the real victory lies.
NB This is a viewpoint by Charlie Osmond, CEO at Triptease. It appears here as part of Tnooz's sponsored content initiative.
Triptease is launching the Direct Booking Summit - the first and only conference focused exclusively on helping hotels to get more bookings via their own websites.
The Direct Booking Summit is coming to London on June 30th and Washington DC on September 13th. Attendees can pick up tips from experts from businesses such as TripAdvisor, Google and STR, while sharing ideas with other hoteliers on how to increase direct bookings.