“Speaking on behalf of myself and the hotels that I have worked with, driving business directly to our websites was always the #1 priority. We made sure that there were always advantages to booking direct and that those advantages were easy to see. Often our occupancy was very high, thanks to great reviews, and we focused on profitability. That meant striving to keep OTAs in check as a helping hand for off-peak times. On the other hand, when opening a new hotel or expanding our reach to fill a larger hotel, OTAs were our best friends and partners.
Sure, we might all someday aspire to having the vast majority of our bookings come directly and only a small, even single-digit percentage come from OTAs and other commissioned providers. Even if it may be possible for a boutique hotel to manage without OTAs, based on today’s commission rates it may be short-sighted to be unprepared for changing tides if you have not created a long-term relationship before you really need them. To stabilize business as much as possible, both in good times and bad, it is important to have partners who can help fill holes and help you access customers that may be too challenging to target on your own. However, everything has a limit, so if commission levels were to rise on the major players, I would certainly begin to consider alternatives.
Ideally speaking, once a traveler has come to your hotel the first time, it is up to you to do everything in your power to make a more human connection with them so that they prefer to communicate and book with you directly. This takes great tools – but more than that, it takes great service, great experiences, and a team that is fully aligned on ensuring that every guest leaves more than content. Our mission is to ensure that they leave feeling fully cared for, appreciated and respected – and looking forward to returning with their friends! OTAs are very popular, so use that relationship to meet some new travelers and turn them into customers for life.”