The hotel industry has seen tremendous growth in the past few years as millions of hotel properties are now offering their guests online bookings. Online hotel reservations have become a very popular method for booking hotel rooms as travelers from around the world can make room reservations from the comfort of their home. There are primarily two ways in which one can make an online booking, namely – Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s) and Booking Directly with Hotels.
OTA’s provide travelers with a wide of range of accommodation options, allowing them to make an informed decision by comparing prices and facilities of different hotels. Some of the popular OTA’s include Expedia, Travelocity, MakeMyTrip, etc. OTA’s provide pictures of hotels and rooms, information on prices and deals, reviews of travelers, etc making it a lot easier for people to make bookings.
However, even though having a presence on OTA’s can be quite beneficial; you cannot ignore the importance of booking directly on hotel websites. Direct Hotel Bookings attract frequent, loyal leisure and unmanaged business travelers, who focus on schedules, and convenience. Hotel websites cater to this audience with more personalization and loyalty, whereas OTA’s appeal to different types of travelers like infrequent, leisure travelers who take very few trips a year and are more price-sensitive.
A recent survey taken in 2008 says that only 39% of online travel sales are made through online travel agencies (OTA’s), whereas the remaining 61% are made directly at hotel websites. Clearly, the percentage of travelers making online bookings via OTA’s is less than half compared to bookings made directly at hotel websites.
An increasing number of hotels now have their own websites with a booking engine attached to their website to permit people to book rooms in real time. This way hoteliers can market their hotels directly to their guests through their websites.
Listed below are some of the benefits of Direct Hotel Bookings:
- Increase in profits by eliminating fees of 20-30% charged by intermediary sales channels
- Control of room rates and increase in number of reservations from own website
- Manage entire customer experience from shopping, reservation, and post-stay follow up
- Provide a comprehensive offer of options including restaurants, gyms, spas and other amenities
- Offer guests with more hotel images, videos and a full description of the hotel property
- Offer better rates and pricing with no additional booking fees
- Provide confidence to travelers that the reservation will not be lost between a sales intermediary and the hotel
One big reason why majority of the customers are using hotel sites to make their reservations is because hotels have significantly improved their websites providing better navigation, design and content. With a comprehensive online booking engine integrated to your hotel website that provides real time, multi-lingual and multi-currency solution, wide range of payment options, and high security standards you can provide utmost ease of booking, influencing customers’ decision making, ultimately reinforcing loyalty.