OTAs & Hotels: New Technologies to Improve Relationships and Bottom Lines
By Toni Portmann Chief Executive Officer, DHISCO, Inc. | June 11, 2017
If there has been one constant since the dawn of online travel agencies, it probably would be the often tense, love-hate relationship between online travel agencies and hotel companies.
Historically, hotel companies embraced these partners to boost sales in the down times. Yet they often bristle at high OTA commissions and the loss of control over their customers during the boom times.Take 2016, for instance: it may best be remembered as the year the world's major hotel companies launched aggressive campaigns to drive customers away from OTAs to their branded sites. Most major chains now offer perks to guests who booked direct, while imposing penalties - like withholding frequent-traveler points - to those who book on third-party sites.
In response, some OTAs quit sharing some information about their customers, including the email addresses of the guests who are booking through their websites.
It's the latest twist in an ongoing power play and one that reignites lingering feuds and questions over who actually "owns the guest." While OTAs and hotel companies likely will debate that question for years to come, I would argue that no one and everyone owns a piece of the guest. And the debate is about much more than guest email.
As the number of business-to-business players in the travel landscape rises, the chain of third parties involved in the travel search and booking process will only continue to grow as consumers demand rich content, Siri-style help via artificial intelligence, multilingual translations and other advances to ease the planning, booking and real-time travel process via smartphones, tablets and computers.