SWMBO suggests TRM inmates may be interested in following from accomnews… confirms just what SWMBO has always claimed.
14 October 2015
Written by Graham Vercoe
While OTAs offer a number of advantages to accommodation providers including a wide, multi-national reach and big marketing budgets, the commission rates of anything from 15 per cent up to 30 per cent are a heavy burden on business profit margins. Remember the days of 10 per cent to bricks-and-mortar travel agents?
Small wonder that there is a huge drive by accommodation providers to secure direct bookings. Some are doing it very well but many are appalling by just not realising what ‘online service’ is all about. It’s not just a case of having a website and offering incentives, it is the need to provide a full consumer-friendly booking experience that makes it simpler (and financially beneficial) for potential guests to book direct. That means putting no impediments in the way of a direct booking.
There are a lot of accommodation providers out there that think that a consumer-friendly website with a couple of come-ons in the way of a free drink on arrival is sufficient to overcome the OTA phenomenon. It’s not.
The one power that an accommodation provider has over an OTA is direct content. Don’t hide your phone number, personal email address… make it easy for a potential guest to talk to you. Not everything is done online. People like to know that they will be staying with real people and if they can’t talk to a real person when they want to make a booking, then you’ve lost them.
My wife organises four coach trips a year for one garden club and two a year for another. They are only for about 30-40 oldies each but the “service” she gets from accommodation providers leaves much to be desired. If you think about it, that is at minimum 75 bed nights on a twin-share basis at pretty good rates. Yet the amount of assistance my wife organiser gets from accommodation providers is, frankly, pathetic.
There is a growing trend amongst OTAs in launching their own loyalty programs taking them into a head-to-head battle with accommodation group loyalty schemes and threatening one of the unique selling points some accommodation brands offer their customers. Another limitation imposed by OTAs is their insistence on best-price guarantee and rate parity amongst all channels, leaving limited maneuverability for hotels to make their offer more attractive.
However, over the past few weeks there has been some movement towards more lenient regulations as imposed by anti-cartel authorities, mainly in Europe. Don’t hold your breath for similar action in Australasia.
While limiting your exposure to OTAs as much as possible might reduce your distribution cost, this could be at the expense of overall occupancy and ultimately ancillary revenues generated through restaurants and bars.
07 October 2015
The study claims that one in three people are worried about online booking scams, which affect millions of unsuspecting consumers.
Early estimates suggested that some 2.5 million hotel bookings a year were affected by deceptive practices through rogue third-party online travel agency (OTA) affiliates who pose as direct hotel booking sites. The study, conducted by GFK Custom Research, and released today shows that six percent of consumers who have booked hotels online had the experience of thinking they were booking directly with a hotel, but found out instead that they were booking with an online hotel booking site posing as the direct site.
By AH&LA estimates, that translates to some 15 million hotel bookings that have been affected by deceptive rogue affiliates. That translates to more than $1.3 billion in money going to bad bookings, meaning consumers are not getting what they want and need, not to mention suffering inconveniences, lost room charges, and cancellation and booking fees. Another 20 percent of respondents who have booked hotels online reported that they were “not sure” if they had also been scammed.
These deceptive practices harm consumers, who don’t get what they want or need, suffer the loss of reservations or face additional charges and fees. This concern was raised by the US Federal Trade Commission which recently warned consumers about these deceptive practices through two consumer alerts highlighting the scams and offering tips to avoid misleading booking sites. These practices also damage hotel reputations and reduce consumer confidence in the online booking process.
“These findings clearly show that online hotel booking scams have eroded consumer confidence among third-party vendors,” said Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of AH&LA. “Consumers deserve transparency in knowing who they are booking with. That is why we have been actively working with state and national government agencies, including the FTC, as well as consumer advocacy groups, to ensure that consumers are protected and can feel comfortable in the booking process. It’s always safest to book directly with the hotel.”
Nearly one-third (32 percent) of consumers who have booked online using an online travel company booking website, and say they worried about it, have personally experienced the following inconveniences when booking online:
- 32 percent got a room that was different than what was expected;
- 17 percent were charged unexpected or hidden fees;
- 15 percent did not get their rewards points;
- 14 percent were charged an extra booking fee;
- 14 percent could not get a refund for a cancellation;
- Nine percent had reservations lost or cancelled; and
- Three percent had their identity or private information stolen.
The study claimed that in order for travellers to be certain they are getting what they want and need, without the frustration and worry, most feel it is better to book directly with the hotel. A majority of those who have booked a hotel online say that they prefer dealing directly with the hotel (56 percent).
“As we heard from consumers, booking hotel accommodations directly is always your best option—eliminating headaches and hassles during any step of the process,” added Lugar. “When dealing directly with the hotel, consumers can rest easy knowing they have direct access to those who can accommodate their needs.”