The Next Great Battle Over Hotel Distribution

The battle for control of the customer is heating up between hotels and intermediaries. With annual revenues from online hotel bookings in the $35 billion range, it’s definitely a prize worth fighting for. Currently, nearly half the bookings come through third party intermediaries, which retain 15-30% of the price of the room.

Hotels see the opportunity to increase direct bookings and, thereby, to increase revenues and margins and, importantly, to collect more information about the customer. But to do so, they need to shift from a wholesale to a retail mindset, and improve the value proposition to the consumer.

Across this industry, two main battles for control of the booking chain and the customer are playing out. The first battle is between large hotel chains and intermediaries. Hotels have historically partnered with intermediaries like global distribution systems (GDS) and online travel agencies (OTAs) for a convenient source of incremental bookings; however, GDS fees are on the rise and merchant models for corporate travel have grown in importance for OTAs. Both sides see opportunities to benefit and capture more margin from customer transactions. Meanwhile, a second battle is brewing between agent intermediaries and meta-mediaries who want direct access to customers when they first access the travel distribution ecosystem. So far, neither has discovered how to make the customer experience hassle-free.

This leads us to ask the question: How can hotels win the hearts of retail consumers? Oliver Wyman discusses four possible scenarios that could play out across these battle zones and outlines how the hotel company can find success. Download this article to learn how to better meet the customers’ needs without adding to hotelier hassles, and ultimately gain the loyalty of the retail customer.

Customer Booking Hassle Map

The Next Great Battle Over Hotel Distribution