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?
"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.
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Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL)
Route de Cojonnex, 18
Phone: 41 21 785 1111
After graduating from the Singapore-Cambridge ‘A’ Levels with full distinctions, Kimberly studied for a BBA at the Nanyang Business School, where she was awarded its most prestigious undergraduate scholarship and offered a place at its selective University Scholar’s Program – which she gave up to pursue a BSc in International Hospitality Management at the EHL Lausanne. Kimberly has since lived and worked in hospitality across 5 countries – Czech Republic, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, and USA. She has had various experiences in hotel real estate and operations, working for brands/companies including Cushman & Wakefield, Hyatt Place, The Ritz Carlton, and The St. Regis. At the 2020 edition of the Young Hoteliers Summit (YHS), the world’s largest student-run hospitality summit, she co-chaired the 40-man team to create its first-ever virtual summit in its 11-year history.
Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne
Phone: +41 21 785 1354