Hotels

OTAs serve up even bigger trouble for hotels

Clare Hutchison

Online travel agents have captured a huge portion of the online hotel market in Asia-Pacific — Phocuswright puts it at a massive 70 per cent — and a new report lays bare the impact on hotels.

Across the region, OTAs on average undercut prices on hotel websites by an average of 11.4 per cent or US$12.06, according to data from Triptease, the company behind the Direct Booking Platform, released in its Spotlight on… Direct Bookings: Asia-Pacific whitepaper.

A breakdown of undercutting rates, based on Triptease’s clients in the region, shows that the scale of undercutting is far worse in certain countries, including Vietnam, China, Thailand and Malaysia, with some seeing a rate as high as 30 per cent.

As a result, many hoteliers in APAC are turning to direct bookings to alleviate the problem. With insight from industry insiders and Triptease’s experience working with 17,000 clients worldwide, Spotlight on… Direct Bookings: Asia-Pacific suggests eight strategies for boosting revenue from hotel websites.

Number one on the list is perfecting the mobile experience. It’s crucial that hotels offer great service and are highly visible on mobile as consumers in the area want to use the channel. In fact, mobile bookings made up an estimated 37 per cent of the total online travel market in APAC in 2017.

The report recommends boosting performance on mobile with paid search, seamless user experience and search engine marketing in the local area.

For hotels looking to attract the growing number of Chinese customers travelling within APAC, the report suggests operating website from within China. That would require a different IT architecture and potentially significant investment, but luring more of the world’s highest spending tourists could be well worth the effort.

The report also covers Agoda’s pricing strategy — something that has left many hoteliers puzzled — online guest experience, customer relationship management, social media, metasearch and ending rogue distribution.

The Direct Booking Movement is in full swing in Asia-Pacific and this report describes how hotels can join it and work towards a more profitable future.

As Web In Travel (WIT) founder Siew Hoon Yeoh, who provided her insight for the report, stated, “There’s huge upside for growth coming from new markets in Asia-Pacific, secondary cities, for instance, and new customers, so there’s greater room for innovation.

“These are exciting times for those willing to experiment and innovate.”

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