Marriott International is calling its new direct booking campaign just another “common practice” aimed at creating awareness of its website for travelers who choose to make their own hotel reservations.

That explanation came in a statement the hotel giant issued in response to a series of YouTube ads in which comedienne Grace Helbig tells viewers “It pays to book direct.”

ASTA, along with the travel agents who’ve viewed the ads, has denounced the campaign. Zane Kerby, ASTA’s CEO and president, said the campaign is both “disparaging to travel agents . . . and misleading to the traveling public.”

In its statement, Marriott said it values its relationship with agents and characterized the book direct campaign as not new, but “rather a marketing campaign of what our direct channels already offer today.”

“It is designed to inform them [customers] about the benefits of booking directly with us, either on, through out Global Reservation Centers, or by contacting the hotel,” the statement said.

Its “direct channel benefits” include its Best Rate Guarantee and its Marriott Rewards program, according to the statement.

Read full article at:  Travel Market