Earlier the travel was limited and so were the options to look up hotels, tours and packages, today there are over 150,000 online booking portals, and over 300,000 travel agents as per some statistics available through GDS and online travel search sites. There are no official figures but as per few popular review sites and meta search sites, there are over 900,000 hotel listings across globe and here I am assuming there must be so many more who have not yet listed themselves. Now with growing population and current generation having more spending power, travel is growing by the day, technology on other hand has made things easy and now a user sitting anywhere in the world can easily book a hotel or tour within few minutes.
This increase in travel trends and change of perceptions of current traveler many new means of travel and stay have emerged, from shared private car rides, shared cab drives to shared rooms and beds in private homes. All this has made travel and hospitality a very competitive segment, today traveler is looking at ways to save money and travel more and hotels are trying to provide best offers and packages, enticing these travelers.
As the technology has made things easy, it also has brought nightmares for hotels and travel companies, various online portals try to under cut each other and brand.com by providing BAR (Best available rate) that is lowest on their portal, these portals take personal hits on their revenues and commissions to ensure most lowest rate on their own and partner portals. Usually these OTA’s often win the traveler over on price and brand experience. They offer great amount of supporting content to answer guest questions via reviews and supporting activity destination guides. Metasearch sites, which conduct searches across multiple travel sites, are coming up fast and are threatening to disrupt OTA’s dominance.
Between 2.4 -3.4 websites in each of the three booking stages: destination selection, shopping and purchasing, and of the most noticed trend in bookings is that every 3 guests out of 5, who try to book online, try and look for brand.com website.
One thing that stands out is that price, and content is the king and number one driver of conversion on OTAâ??s and metasearch sites. So first, hoteliers need to make sure their hotels are listed on many different channels, but at same time they must subscribe to metasearch sites on pay per click as they are likely to get better results through meta search sites, as these sites provide aggregated rates and content from multiple sources, which simply makes it easy for guest to decide and book.
OTA’s and meta search are fighting among themselves, and as per few statistics shared above, brand.com stands to benefit the most, brand.com can only win over the competition if it effectively addresses guests concerns and queries, website and web booking engine must be mobile and offer rich content with good images and videos, a real-time booking engine which offers best rates and packages with incentives and freebies over OTA and meta search sites. Guests should be able to make payments for bookings on website and get instant confirmations, also there should be online access to their reservation for any changes.
Few other good to haves on brand.com are rate shopping tool providing view of rates across different portals, sharing guest reviews which help guest understand what other guests experienced while in property. Hotel must keep guest experience as a foremost concern when adopting a technology and developing a strategy.