The balancing act between third party channels and your own hotel website is often a difficult one. Once you make the decision to take charge of your online distribution, it can cause some friction with your OTA partners and other third party channels. However, you should not be afraid to prioritize direct bookings over OTA bookings.
For example, hotel technology provider Mirai recently published an article on the difficult coexistence between Booking.com and your hotel website.
They assert that the goal for hotels and Booking.com – and other OTAs – should be a balance, but that the hotel needs to ultimately take control of their inventory.
In recent years, Mirai say, the “marriage” between Booking.com and a hotel has turned into something more one-sided, and hotels are waving the flag for freedom.
As the OTA business grew more powerful in recent years, Booking.com and other online channels often captured large shares and charged commissions that are far too high to be beneficial to independent hotels. These high distribution costs meant that hotels made less profit despite a higher income.
The Book Direct Movement
These high fees and increasing OTA strength sparked the book direct movement. The book direct movement is a determination for hotels to drive direct bookings at a lower cost per acquisition – lower than OTA costs, at the very least.
It’s important to note that no one is suggesting hotels throw the baby out with the bathwater. OTA’s do provide essential exposure (especially for independent hotels), and they help fill low periods.
Mirai describes this struggle to drive direct bookings as the ‘conflict zone’. Since hotels are now competing with OTAs for bookings, they must limit the inventory they give to OTAs, break parity in prices (where possible), and fight for attention on paid search.
This has caused some strife, from Expedia’s ‘dimming’ of hotels to Booking.com’s legal struggles over price parity.