Suddenly it seems that hotels and other accommodations have totally forgotten that their primary business and selling article is hospitality. Suddenly, all they seem to be doing is complaining about the power and unfairness of third party online booking sites like Booking.com and Expedia. It’s like they rather
surrender and blame waste their energy on blaming others (= B & E), than concentrate on improving and developing their own offerings; services, products and especially the digital part. It’s like they would like to stick to their old models and comfort zone, rather than keep up with and utilize the many possibilities of (digital) today has to offer, for them and their customers.
The spike in offers comes at a time when the American Hotel & Lodging Association, a trade group based in Washington, D.C., has voiced its opposition to consolidation in the online travel agency business, such as the acquisition last year of Orbitz by Expedia, a deal that was particularly bothersome to hotels, they said, since they paid Expedia commissions that were higher than Orbitz’s.
It also seems that especially the big players, ie. hotel chains, are most worried (or at least loudest ) of the development of the third party booking and OTA’s; maybe just because it’s more fitting for them that the “bad boy” label, which they easily tend to have themselves, is this way stamped on someone else. And I have to say, as a traveler and tourism professional, the discussion is both funny and painful to follow. Sorry guys, but as long as you don’t really take care that your own services and products are up to date and of good quality, and especially easily bookable / bought, you have no reason to whine on how well Booking.com is doing. Hospitality, what you should be doing primarily, is so much more than just booking business.
Nowadays booking directly may also include the ability to check in on your smartphone. Making changes to reservations is often easier or more seamless as well. And of course there is the matter of the hotel’s rewards points. In general, you don’t get them if you book through a third party.
For example, recently I booked an accommodation through Booking.com, which I haven’t done for ages. And pretty fast I noticed why I haven’t used the .com in ages; why I’ve rather been booking directly using hotel’s and other accommodation’s own booking channels, clicking the hotel, not Booking.com links in Google search results, and getting my reviews from somewhere else than the big players. Even though Booking.com many times offers the cheapest and easily booked alternatives, the other aspects, quality / hate selling / complicated adjustments / just the website design itself, makes it a no-go option for me. I’m willing to pay € or two more to get the kind of quality service and solution I prefer, and I do think I am not the only one. I also happen to know a thing or two about how to create quality content and get visibility, even in Google, without even touching Booking.com. I can read between the lines and I rather trust the reviews and recommendations done by the people I know, real journalists or just by someone who aren’t paid for the “review” = promotion, as
some most of the today’s travel blogs tend to do, no matter how much they boost their “authenticity”. *Oh but sorry, I got sidetracked, let’s turn back to the highway…
Expedia’s moves to lower commissions, tack on a tactical bidding program for hotel displays, and make itself friendlier to hotels and consumers by offering a pay-at-the-hotel option are all designed to ramp up Expedia’s business and to make Booking.com’s so-called “competitive moat” a little less imposing.
Rather than whining, I’d advice you, accommodations provider, to look carefully on how you can offer me the best possible product / service, and the booking solution too. I don’t mind if it’s more expensive than what Booking.com is offering me – as long as it really offers me better experience than Booking.com. And lets underline this: You are in hospitality business, offering hospitality aka accommodation services, products and experiences, for travelers like me, while Booking.com, as b2b business, is offering you booking system services, visibility etc. which you, btw, could also buy and get from someone / somewhere else. Booking.com is not mafia, although you seem to like (us) to think so.
And if your biggest problem is a signed contract which you haven’t understood fully when signing, as I’ve heard it’s the case with some of you, I can only offer you my sincere condolescences. And for the next time, if that ever happens, I’d advice you to first hire a lawyer or consult or just someone who’s wiser and knows better what to sign and what not.
Better safe than sorry. And more good old hospitality than whine, please.
* I work as a consult too: email firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s see how I can help you.