But the reality is far more complex than the story of online upstarts overtaking industry incumbents. In actuality, the market has seen the gradual formation of a fragile balance of power. Although digital intermediaries have built large customer bases and a growing inventory of offers, their bargaining power has mostly become stronger with independent hotels. Indeed, the latter are paying a heavy price in the form of high commissions that can reach up to 30 percent of the nightly price in some cases. Hotel chains, on the other hand, have certainly not had their final say. Not only are they supported by ambitious development plans, but more importantly, they maintain control of the entire customer itinerary and can act at each point of contact. Nevertheless, a quiet battle is now being waged for control of the customer relationship – one of the main keys to success in an industry undergoing fundamental shifts.
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