The push for direct bookings: hotels can go both ways


Numerous reports suggest hotels have seen a trend towards direct consumer booking as lockdown restrictions have eased and travel resumes.

There are several reasons for this, ranging from the trust that had existed before the pandemic with brands or consumers visiting hotel property websites to learn more about the safety and health protocols in place.

Either way, hotels are undergoing a shift towards direct bookings that they have been desperate to achieve for a long time.

The argument has always been to ‘own the customer’ through the most important phase of the process, where they can collect guest data and feed it into their own email marketing strategy before, during. and after the trip.

The problem they had was focused on the bookings volumes that an intermediary – namely an online travel agency, such as Booking.com or Expedia – could give them, often high, but in exchange for double-digit commission rates.

Hotels have attempted to break the cycle of OTA addiction with varying degrees of success – until now.

Moving forward

The million dollar question (perhaps the $ 12 billion one, given how much the aforementioned two OTAs have spent in the past on digital marketing to get consumers on their way) is whether the trend will stay the same. longer than the payback period?

There is an argument that once the recovery process and the so-called “pent-up demand” stabilize, normal service will resume.

OTAs can spend more than their “partners” and reposition themselves as a one-stop-shop for everything related to travel, not just the accommodation part of the equation.

The challenge for hotels will be making sure they do all the hard work now, as the recovery period stretches over the next few months, possibly even into 2022.

Creating a new model of loyalty with guests will be a crucial part of the customer experience strategy – a process that will take place both online (before and after a trip) and after the stay actually takes place. .

Finding the right balance between direct and indirect bookings has always been an art form that hotels have struggled to achieve, but they have some momentum at the moment and an opportunity to reclaim as much ground as possible before status. quo, pre-pandemic, potentially returns once again.

Hotels know that just a few percentage points in their favor for direct bookings can make a huge difference.

Phocuswright Europe 2021

Maud Bailly, CEO Southern Europe at Accor, and Tim Davis, Founder and CEO of PACE Dimensions, will discuss the dilemma that travel brands face around recovery and responsibility at this year’s event.


About Madeline Powers

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