For those of you in the accommodation business, the changing shape of online bookings has been a concern for some time.
Last year when we visited clients and other people there was great concern about the amount of commissions paid to sites like Booking.com. A bit of a sense of panic!
We have recently also had a number of meetings and sense a change in the mood from last year. Yes, people are still concerned that they are paying large amounts of commission to OTAs. But there seems to have been a maturing of attitudes to this and acceptance that this is just the way the market is now.
Now people are more accepting that if they are paying commissions it actually means confirmed business and that online bookings are often easier than walk-ins who want to look around first.
Also, many are coming up with creative ways to encourage direct bookings without violating price parity rules that some of the OTA’s have.
Some have dropped their Google AdWords campaigns – why bid to compete with the large OTA’s like booking.com for top spot if your property is coming up in their Adwords anyhow? Let them spend the money to promote you. They have much deeper pockets than you.
And we know of one site that has a “price ticker” showing the OTA prices versus the direct booking price which encourages direct booking because it shows clearly that the direct booking rate is the best price (or equal to it).
At the end of the day many of the bookers look at the OTA listing as well as visit your site – you then just need to convince them to book direct. Value added offers can help achieve that. If you are clever, you can do that without breaking price parity rules.
But check out our article about Google becoming an OTA to see what shakeup is coming soon.