OTAs and hotel companies are often said to be in a zero-sum game – hotels invest heavily into their direct channels and loyalty programs to reduce OTA commissions, but ineffective strategies mean that they sometimes end up spending more than what they would have paid to OTAs. Meanwhile, OTAs continue to increase their presence and gain market share, reminding us that they are here to stay. But if we played the game right, could everyone win a piece of the pie?
Marco Rosso, Regional Director (Spain) at SiteMinder, sat down with the Young Hoteliers Summit in an interview to discuss the changing distribution landscape and how to best leverage the different channels to optimize visibility and revenue. As Rosso says,
Be present everywhere, leverage all channels, leverage all situations, but focus on what you do.
Rosso, who believes that OTAs are friends not foes, emphasizes that hotels should work with a variety of metasearch sites and be present on as many OTAs as possible to generate traffic and bring business to the hotel. Then, the key lies in being able to convert those clients into your direct customers, thus increasing direct bookings in the long run.
Furthermore, many travelers begin their search on OTAs, and then look for the direct websites of the hotels they are interested in. Rosso thus highlights how important it is for hotels to ensure that their direct website is discoverable, optimized, and secure. As rate parity becomes a thing of the past, he also touches on how hotels need to be bolder and use this to their advantage to compete against the big OTA players.
Ultimately, OTAs can be a useful tool for driving direct bookings. Hotels should perhaps focus on properly leveraging these channels, rather than constantly trying to outcompete them. This way, hotels and OTAs could create a bigger pie instead of simply fighting for a bigger slice.