It’s no secret that Hotel Brands have been looking for ways to compete against OTA bookings since the inception of online travel agencies. The quandary is figuring out how.
Hotels are ramping up their loyalty programs, offering incentives to book direct, and taking steps to spice up their hotel offerings. One of Hilton’s tactics in a 2017 PILOT Program offered room and package recommendations to guests based on past purchase behavior and provided them the option to view digital room layouts before choosing their room.
The question is: have additional perks and programs actually helped increase hotel online bookings? The simple answer is Yes.
Hotels offering their loyalty rates on their website have slowed down the shift of booking behavior from Brands to OTAs. While it is a fact that OTAs make up more than 1/5th of U.S. Hotels’ overall revenue, studies show that Brands are finally making a difference by offering special perks to their members. It has always been the philosophy of Brands to “keep your repeat guests close to your chest as they are the ones who can make or break you.”
In addition, from May 2016 - May 2017, according to new bookings data shared by Hitwise, OTAs shifted share less then than a percentage point at .8%, the lowest number in years. All the while Expedia and Booking.com each doubled their advertising spend YOY in an effort to gain booking share.
Based on trends since 2014, projections are showing that in the next four years, when comparing these two sources of bookings, there will be only a minimal variance between OTA and Hotel online direct bookings.
Congratulations Hotel Digital teams, you are finally changing the trend!
U.S. Hotel Online Annual Growth
OTA vs. Hotel Online Direct bookings
2014 – 2021
Note: 2017 - 2021 projected
Source: U.S. Online Travel Overview Seventeenth Edition