Competition between Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and hotels and resorts continues to heat up. Not only are direct bookings more profitable for hotels as they can avoid paying steep commissions, but it also allows the property to provide better guest service and communications with the guest.
“For the guests, OTAs provide easy shopping tools – multiple offers from competing properties in one location and the ability to bundle transportation,” commented Rich Morehouse, Director CRES & Revenue Management for Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. “As a property, these are expensive guests when you consider the margins OTAs demand as marketing costs.”
OTAs are large organizations that are highly-focused on driving thousands of reservations each day. They can employ a veritable army of Search Engine Optimization experts and a formidable budget to ensure they dominate the top engine results. However, independent resorts can still compete successfully for search engine results. “We spend a significant amount of money with Google in the PPC environment, which drives traffic directly to our website and ultimately to our booking engine,” commented Ian Maw, Director of Sales & Marketing for Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa.
Many hotels cite the “billboard” effect of working with the OTAs. By ensuring that their property is represented on the OTAs, they aim to drive traffic to their own website where the guest can complete the booking.
“Property direct bookings often have value-add offers like a Ski Free option or packages that offer more resort amenities like spa, dining, or other activities,” commented Morehouse.