Booking a trip or a hotel stay as a frequent traveler should be easy. Well-seasoned hotel guests tend to know what they like and select their accommodation through portals that they trust.
But what if the standards and policies of well-known online travel agents are the spoiling customer services when it comes to hotel stays?
We look at the reasons why online travel agencies can affect hotel and guest communications.
Too OTA reliant
While new business and bookings can be established through an online travel agency, it’s the job of the hotel to turn that guest’s experience into a repeat custom. But selling rooms without strategizing for repeat custom from that first-time stay hotel guest, is one of the mistakes being made by hotel marketing plans that focus primarily on the OTA for increasing ROIs.
The fact is that OTAs don’t build customer loyalty. Instead, they are about profit margins, commission and the sell, sell, sell. As a result, the business model thrives on customer disloyalty – and creating bookings by constantly providing fresh and tempting offers to potential customers. The ‘brand new deal’ mentality that is prompted by commissions rather than quality, results on price deals dictating sales rather than customer preferences.
Hotels are increasingly waking up to the fact that OTAs now dominate the conversation when it comes to creating the booking. They control the communication with the customer from the moment the booking process begins. And now, increasingly, refuse to share customer data such as email and preferences with the hotel that has received the booking. So, as invaluable as they are to the travel industry, they are also a poisoned chalice, stripping away vital customer knowledge and loyalty from the hotels they work with.
Guest psychology dictates that when choosing a booking from a wide range of options, the final choice will be the more logical one. Typically, guests return time and time again to the same booking site – but not the same hotel. Some industry experts have described this phenomenon as “guests are hooked into booking again and again through the same online agency sites”. The repeat booking client is one who books directly through the hotel website – not one who receives and uses an OTA to search for the best deals available. As online travel agencies now have the controlling hand on how they utilize customer information through retargeting and CRM’s, hotels are missing out on that vital contact both pre and post stay with their own guests.
The answer, of course, is for there to be an alternative solution for hotels to access more online guests. Marketing constraints mean they can’t compete with the OTA booking giants, so a new solution that encourages direct guest contact with hotels is the simplest way to prevent being ghosted by your own customers. Roomolo offers exactly that by putting hotels back in control of the booking process – and the customer data too.