Providers are now trying to expand into other areas, such as cross‐selling ancillaries or experiences. They are realizing that ultimately they are intermediaries, just another sales platform - and in that respect, they are becoming more like OTAs.
Quote from Sam Turner and Peter Mansour of Hotelbeds Group, in an article on PhocusWire this week.
Intermediary growth, consolidation and more hotel distribution trends for 2019
This year has seen the introduction of many new angles to push the ongoing battle for supremacy in the travel industry.
Many will point to the technical ones, such as blockchain, voice, artificial intelligence, et al - all of which will have some degree of impact over time.
But it is the bigger picture that captures the most attention, as always.
The relationship between suppliers and intermediaries, and their respective customers, continues to be where the fiercest competition takes place.
PhocusWire has noted recently that the industry exits 2018 with a renewed emphasis on the importance of intermediaries in the travel food chain.
This is an argument with a number of aspects to it.
Firstly, Airbnb's signal earlier this year that it wants to go head-to-head with the likes of Booking.com and Expedia illustrated that the competition for hearts and minds of travelers is no longer about putting different types of accommodation (private, hotel, etc.) into silos.
It recognized - not least through the introduction of hotel distribution on Airbnb - that consumers just want choice, rather than being thrown into one particular segment.
Only intermediaries can do that effectively.
Secondly, this apparent battle of the platforms is being played out against a backdrop of continued threats from outside the industry.
Google, for one, is the platform that many say openly now takes with one hand and competes with the other. All intermediaries (old and young) understand this, so are desperate to secure their brand as the go-to place to start thinking about a trip... then selling it.
The other significant - let's be honest here - threat comes from other e-commerce players, whether it's Alibaba in China or Amazon elsewhere.
These brands and their respective, smart, high-tech selling platforms are laying in wait to capitalize on the opportunity that is before them.
Building or maintaining a platform - alongside having an extremely marketable brand - is the only way that the industry is going to face down such new and powerful competitors.