We’re Using the Wrong Message to Fight OTAs
Looks like we might have been going about this all wrong.
The thought that a guest’s primary travel concern is saving money is an assumption that needs to be reexamined.
According to JD Power & Associates’ North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, guests are more likely to be dissatisfied with their hotel experience and come across more problems (like canceled reservations or last-minute changes) if they book through a third-party, such as Travelocity or Expedia.
So, what does this mean for you?
It’s time to change the overarching hotel industry strategy from emphasizing price parity to tapping into consumer fears of OTAs.
Instead of obsessing about Best Rate Guarantees, we all need to start focusing instead on how reservations, cancellations, changes, room selection and refunds are perceived by consumers when they book direct vs indirect.
Many consumers (especially older ones) have preexisting concerns about third-party bookings and fear that one mishap with an OTA could unravel their travel plans in seconds.
Meanwhile, hotels offer two vital things that OTAs do not: a secure, direct reservation and a dedicated staff that truly cares. (Smart marketers like Hilton have taken this dynamic to another level by enabling loyalty members to select their own rooms. This is a powerful differentiator, which adds even more peace of mind and diminishes OTA value.)
Trust Issues: Many Consumers Don’t Like OTAs
It doesn’t take much to prove how unhappy customers are with OTAs.
Both Expedia and Priceline have consistent and dismal 1-star ratings on a popular review site: Consumer Affairs. There are legions of horror stories by guests left in a lurch when they arrive to their hotel with an OTA reservation in hand, only to discover their hotel is sold out and there are no more rooms available. Or, even worse, that the hotel has no record of the reservation at all!