Hotels in the third biggest tourist market on the planet are starting to fight back against the dominance of OTAs.
At least, this is the forecast contained within research from Phocuswright shared at the FITURTech event in Madrid, Spain, this week.
Spain comes behind France and the US in the rankings for the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with some 65 million visitors in 2014 (up 7% on the previous year, according to figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation).
Yet the country’s hotels have relied for many years on OTAs to fill their rooms, or have agreements with European tour operators for package holidays.
Currently, just under half (48%) of online travel in Spain is booked on OTAs, versus the direct channel, compared to 43% for Europe as a whole.
But in 2017, Phocuswright says the figure will tumble to 43%, signalling a significant change in the marketplace.
The research house’s director of sales for EMEA and a European market specialist, Florence Kaci, says hotels are “becoming much more aggressive” and are starting to push direct sales through their own websites.
Spain, similar to many other countries in Europe, is dominated by Booking.com and Expedia in the online travel agency marketplace (globally, the pair are estimated to have an eye-watering 65% market share between them).
But Spanish hotels, including the many independents (around 70-75% of the country’s accommodation sector), are beginning to erode the influence of OTAs in online bookings.