These days, bashing online travel agencies has become a popular sport. The likes of Expedia, Travelocity and Priceline are being blamed for commoditizing hotels, for decimating rates, and for training travelers to demand deep discounts. We can probably find a way to blame them for that oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico too.
Not that OTAs need defending, but the reality is, we as hoteliers share the blame. It’s our signature on OTA agreements. We give them access to inventory at heavily discounted rates. And we’ve taught travelers to look for the best deals on OTA sites.
Case in point: While reserving a hotel in Chicago last month, I found six different rates for the same room. The lowest came from Expedia at $180. Inconceivably, the highest rate came from the hotel’s in-house reservations department at $229. Such “rate disparity” is rampant.
What started as casual use has become an unhealthy addiction. Meanwhile, while hotels are staggering toward recovery, the OTAs are boasting enormous growth. It’s time to take back some of the control we relinquished during desperate times. To that end, here’s a ten-step program for easing your hotel’s OTA dependency.