Fighting OTAs just makes your hotel less competitive

This is a viewpoint from John Jones, managing director of Welcome Systems.

I’m still surprised to find large parts of the hospitality sector who continue to stick out their bottom lip, stamp their feet and sulk their way through OTA relationships, while thinking nothing of continuing to buy their own airline tickets, hire cars or insurance using online consolidators.

‘Direct is best,’ ‘101 ways to avoid paying OTAs,’ and even ‘How to Win the OTA War’ are just a few of the headlines and industry advice columns I’ve witnessed with incredulity over the past several months.

Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, there appears to be a deep-seated resistance to the simple fact that hotel booking engines, while vitally important, are now secondary to OTAs.

There, I’ve said it. Although this will be painful for many to read, it should be of little surprise when you consider the habits of the millennial generation.

Millennials like OTAs — but so do other demographics

According to data from Expedia, millennials tend to be less brand loyal than their parents and appear to be drawn to the simplicity and choice offered by OTAs. In other words, they’re far more likely to book a hotel room via an OTA, which is important as they’re the biggest generation in existence.

However, it’s not all about the millennial generation. Our own statistics also reflect the habits, needs and wants of the modern day traveller.

During 2017, the Welcome Anywhere property management system processed £74m of hotel reservations. More than 50% of these bookings came from Booking.com, while the number of direct bookings decreased by almost £2m in value.

These figures may be alarming to some, but to us they offer a key insight into how the modern hospitality industry and its guests genuinely operate.

Hotels that cling to outdated rhetoric are effectively saying that they don’t want to provide what their prospective guests want. This is astonishing and no more out of step with the times than saying ‘sorry but we don’t take contactless payments.’

And then there’s the whole ‘cost of acquisition’ issue, which is easier to summarise than some might believe. The OTAs are the actual cost of acquisition these days. Period.

While the cost of using OTAs is often quoted as a negative, the cost of not using them gets little airtime. It’s absolutely possible for a hotel to market its rooms without OTAs, by taking a few small steps. These include:

  • Investing in effective digital platforms for e-shots, graphic design and social media output
  • The purchase of royalty-free images
  • Producing professionally designed leaflets and mailing them out
  • Effective use of a decent CRM system to monitor results
  • A full SEO campaign and expenditure on Google Adwords
  • Use of a local ad agency
  • Someone to do all of the above.

Quite a large list, isn’t it?

OTAs don’t just take a booking and top slice it. Most actually also provide extra tools, some chargeable, some not, to help hoteliers. These can include rate intelligence and management modules, yield management and comprehensive reporting. Additionally, the guest gets a booking experience tailored to them thanks to clever use of language support, currency conversion and Points of Interest.

How can hotels seek to obtain loyal customers by seemingly doing everything right with their property (the decor, facilities, F&B operation, friendly team, etc), yet fundamentally be at war with those same customers?

Are hotels at war with their guests?

By turning their noses up at OTAs, some hoteliers seem to be effectively at war with modern guests and their booking preferences.

Over the years, guests’ expectations have changed and the hotel industry has responded admirably. In-room tea and coffee facilities, modern comfort cooling, mood lighting, phone charging, USB sockets and mirror TVs, free wifi, locally sourced artisan bread, and fairtrade cotton duvet covers – it’s all been done. Naturally, this has come at a cost — but as hoteliers we provided these services because the guests wanted them.

Given that we’ve responded to guest preferences within the hotel experience, why the outcry over another key service which guests want: the ability to book by OTA?

Some hotel software providers are looking increasingly behind the times, thanks to their anti-OTA rhetoric, and are either inadvertently or blatantly ignoring the facts. I think it’s time that hotels and property management system vendors buried the hatchet with OTAs. Providing guests with what they expect costs money, but the cost of denial could be far higher. It’s about meeting the guest where they are, allowing them to book how they want, and then delivering them a memorable experience once they’re on property. It’s that memorable experience that keeps them coming back — no matter where they book.

Related reading:

Expedia sets sights on legacy tech with ambitious ‘travel platform’ for hotels

Why OTA commissions are actually a steal of a deal

Is there a thawing in the hotel and OTA relationship?

Opinions and views expressed by all guest contributors do not necessarily reflect those of tnooz, its writers, or its partners.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash.

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Viewpoints

About the Writer :: Viewpoints

A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries. The views expressed are those of the author. and do not necessarily reflect those of the author's employer, or tnooz and its partners.

 

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  1. Jon

    My interest is the small family owned hotel end of the spectrum, I also run a website for small hotel owners who wish to sell.

    The common complaints I hear are “old style agents used to charge 10% – OTAs charge 25%”

    OTAs also in many cases have extremely aggresive techniques like for instance…

    1. Banning the hotelier from offering better rates on their own website.
    2. Strong arm tactics to get hotel owners to allow last minute cancellations with no cost to the consumer – hotelier takes the fall.

    Take point 2….

    Question: Is a hotel owner who objects to the consumer being able to cancel at the last minute fighting their customer?

    Well take any other industry and see how many can afford to offer the consumer a non-consquence option for late cancellation? Yes there are online websites
    that will offer you something that you can return no questions asked but you still have to pay to mail the article back and arrange packaging – its still an effort to
    cancel. Some will return the goods and the operation has already priced that into the asking price for the article.

    When someone cancels a hotel room it often means that the room will either be empty or have to be re-offered as a late offer and a loss-reducing rate. As an ex
    hotelier I know from personal experience this can encourage a kind of “not sure about the weekend – book it anyway we can always cancel…it does not cost anything” –
    the consumer is given an apparent win-win reservation choice at the cost of the hotelier – but does the consumer really win in the end? They will find that if the
    hotelier’s margins are squeezed then so will be the quality of product they receive should they decide to actually turn up. The fact is that it has become just too
    easy to cancel and reservation can become a speculative space holder whilst traditionally it has been more of an agreement with small penalties attached.

    The relationship between consumer and producer or service provider has always like anything else in life been a matter of give and take and when both are evenly
    matched we might hope that the system will sort itself out into some kind of mutually beneficial arrangement.

    The issue with OTAs is that we have yet to see sufficient competition between them to reduce their slice to a more reasonable 10% which most hoteliers would
    probably be very happy with. Lack of competition also means that they can use strong arm tactics on the hotelier.

    It is never a good thing in the long term to squeeze one end of the supply chain so that other parts are almost driven out of business. If people do not all want to stay in
    faceless 300 room hotels and some want to stay in small family run hotels run by local people then we need to face up to the following points.

    1. As mentioned the consumer does not generally want to spend lots of time searching around – they want easy solutions.

    2. The hotel owner is often not IT sophisticated, they may have coped in yesteryear with traditional marketing methods but they
    lack the savvy in many cases to compete online or indeed to effectively analyse their options.

    3. OTAs who can work 24/7 screwing the last percent of profit, spotting trends and reacting, no loyalties, no sentiment – profit only.

    Who is going to win the biggest control here? Will the guests control the situation if they are content and given the easy option and have limited time to “click-click-book”?
    Will the hotelier who is time limited, resource limited and lacks know how? Or will a team of 24/7 professional computer programmers, market analyts businesses strategists
    and marketing gurus with a budget that means that can hit us just about every advert break with adverts?

    The problem here is a supply chain that is unbalanced – the consumer and product supplier are either powerless or dis-interested which leaves the OTA in a very powerful,
    some might say too powerful position.

    A small hotelier might like to take a long term view – big business is often not great at long term views – where competition and a scrap of profit on the table is concerned
    they will just dive in. And any way if they do drive some traditional family run hotels out of business then what the hell they can just be replaced with
    faceless franchised chains with 200 rooms or more – perhaps better for the OTA in the first place? why deal with ten small hotels with idiosyncracies
    when you can deal with one franchised chain with a consistent and uniform message and style of doing business?

    People who fight technology have been traditionally called ludites and history tends to view them as ill-advised people denying the inevitable.

    Against this in the age of mass media and technology it is very easy for a system to become unbalanced because of one powerful player seeking
    short term gains blind to the damage that is done to otherwise viable and well run small businesses.

    If we want character and flavour – if we want to travel to Thailand, Spain or Austria and stay in a traditional and authentic environment and to
    look around and not see the plastic signs and logos of huge franchise chains then we need to face up to the imbalance and damage that the
    power of OTAs is currently inflicting.

    Its not so much a matter that OTAs are bad – at 10% commission they would probably be good.
    Its not that the technology is bad.
    It is because the speed of technology and lack of regulation has given profit hungry large corporations a free feeding frenzy in a largely unprotected
    and unsophisticated market place ( remember I am talking small family run hotels here ).

    In Europe at least politicans are waking up to this, they are capitalist but they recognise that short term feeding frenzies may eventually balance out
    but in the meantime a valuable, authentic and much loved part of the market may suffer terribly. They are starting to restrict what booking sites
    can and cannot do and specifically what impositions they are allowed to place on the hotel owner, unfortunately many hotel owners do not seem
    to be fully aware of this and despite having new found freedoms have not taken advantage of them.

    https://www.staywyse.org/2017/04/10/ota-eu-regulations/

    I do not dispute all that is said in this article but I do feel it neatly side steps over the issue of the inevitable casualties. Do we all want to live in a world where
    the only surviving suppliers of goods and services are branded large scale players or do we sometimes what authentic, small and personal?

    Regulation of industries is sometimes seen as anti competitive or even anti capitalistic but large scale business is not driven by any aesthetic ideal or indeed
    very often a long term plan. It does not matter to OTAs if we all have to stay in 300 room globally identical operations with as much individuality and character
    as the food offered by some fast food giants (displacing traditinal authentic foods) as long as the profit is there and there also we also see unanticipated side
    effects (health), there we are seeing the OTA model being adopted in the restaurant market as well.

    Just because something is quick easy and ‘the new thing’ does not mean that there will not be consequence if it is adopted fast or grows exponetially quickly –
    we do not have the time or in many cases the will to examine the real costs and side effects until a half generation later we start to see the effects ourselves.

    OTAs are a fact of life but we need more inter OTA competition, we need to see more will from the powerful political players to curb their power and aggression
    and small independent hoteliers need to take an interest specifically to find out what their current legal rights are and to campaign for better ones.

    Personally I would encourage the EU to continue their initiatives but to consider imposing a 10% cap on OTAs.

    Consumers will not always benefit in every case when middle men shake up the market place and in some cases the costs will invisibly be fed back to the
    consumer either in raised tarrifs to pay the OTA 25% or by loss of choice, authenticity and quality in the final product.

     
  2. Richard Vaughton

    Just diving back in as the discussions revolving around OTA’s are increasing and the more some of their activities are scrutinized the more we see all manner of malpractice. Two examples a) falsely raising prices and promoting it as a major saving when discounted: a guest is disappointed b) Adding extra margin/guest service fees when the accommodation is priced lower to make it competitive. The accommodation strategy is then hampered and guest pays too much.

     
  3. John Jones

    Would you like to be a guest in a podcast on this topic? We would love to take the debate up a gear. It is a hot subject and we would like to capture both sides of the debate. Do let me know.

     
  4. Tom

    I think it’s a good practice to analyze if the OTAs are good for the consumer i.e. are they driving down the supply pricing or in fact increasing pricing in the marketplace?

     
    • Jon

      Tom. as an ex small hotelier my take on this would be that OTAs may have a beneficial effect on standards and efficiency if they charge approximately what the hotel would have spent to secure the booking by alternative method and also that the OTA does not wield unfair power and advantage.

      However with OTAs charging as much as 25% !

      Well I can promise you that I never spent 25% of what a customer paid for their stay securing that stay – if I had to pay an OTA 25% then I assure you that on average – averaged out over my customer base, time and so on the customer would pay.

      OTAs will be become a force for good only when they charge a reasonable rate. Any OTA currently charging 25% is taking that money either from the guest ( who pays more on average ) or resulting in a diminished service when that guest arrives. Middle men almost invariably inflate prices – in some cases they perform a role that those either side cannot – a factory does not want to sell small quantities and a consumer does not want to buy half a metric ton of spanners – so we have shops that sell spanners.

      OTAs do help the consumer in terms of providing a common portal so that the consumer does not have to navigate 101 different hotel webpages with all their quirks.

      My belief in the EU zone is that we need to cap OTAs at 10% – the EU has already nipped blatant profiteering in the mobile ( cell phone ) market – we need to look at hospitality next.

       
  5. Keith Slowey

    Well run hotels like most well run businesses will be trying to maximise profits. Giving all of their distribution to OTA’s is not an effective strategy to maximise profits. While I agree there is definitely a place / time for OTA’s I agree with hoteliers that the large OTA’s are taking too big a slice of the pie and are leveraging too much control over hoteliers. It’s time for the hoteliers to take back some of the control over their own businesses and maximise their bottom line.
    Ultimately it will end up with the paying guest who is paying a higher cost per room to offset the OTA commissions.

     
    • Dilek SEZER

      So true Keith; it is usually the guest who is ending up paying more to cover the costs.

       
  6. Dave Rubin

    Am I correct in understanding this article about OTA’s quotes data provided by an OTA as its first point of reference?

     
  7. Steve

    This is possibly the most foolhardy and uninformed article on this subject I have read in a long time, I have worked all sides of the table, OTA, Agency, Hotel, Media buyer and if your hotel does not invest heavily in direct marketing and customer acquisition and work to protect your brand assets, not only are you failing to generate adequate demand, but you are also leaving money on the table, giving control of your business to a third party and eroding your brand value. Sorry but this article is bs – OTA’s should help with distribution – they don’t drive demand they consolidate it and dilute it and every $$ direct is a 15-25% uplift on your bottom line as long as you control your cost of customer acquisition.

     
    • Jon

      @Steve

      Can’t resist applauding your ability to capture a lot of truth and insight in very few words.

      “OTA’s should help with distribution – they don’t drive demand they consolidate it and dilute it and every $$ direct is a 15-25% uplift on your bottom line as long as you control your cost of customer acquisition.”

       
  8. Colin J Brownlee

    So, Mr Jones. Let me get this clear. You would have no problem if I with virtually unlimited funds and IT resources wanted to intercept your clients to my platform to resell to you, less 15-25% by using your trade name “Welcome Systems”.

    Then I am going to attempt to dictate how you will deal with the clients and run your business. If you don’t do we expect, no problem, I will sell your clients from “Welcome Systems.” to someone else.

     
  9. Dilek SEZER

    Spot on! As long as guests choose to use OTAs, hotels should not be fighting with them, but work with them, learn from them, benefit from all market inteligence they offer, meanwhile understand why guests prefer to use OTAs starting with taking a look at own platforms; if hotel’s own platform can’t offer the ease of use (and other benefits) as well as the OTAs, it’s time to invest on your platform, if you don’t have the mega budget OTAs have on digital development focus on your guests and listen to understand what they need and want once they are with you; more satisfied they are with their time with you, more loyal they will be and choose you whenever in the area.
    At the end, it is all about finding the right balance between all sources whether direct or indirect rather than been dependent on one source only, particularly if it’s not your own platform.

     
    • Jon

      Yes – but what about the ten room family run hotel? Lets not categorise all hotels as mid to large orgs that can muster resources and sophistication. I can see where you are coming from but do consider the small hotelier. I have owner and run a small ten room hotel, luckily for me I was an ex IT pro but my involvement in helping small hotel owners left me with the impression that they are not always the most tech enabled people on the planet BUT they may be offering fantastic individual authentic experiences that the big players never can. The small players here are literally eaten by the big powerful players and yes they could learn lessons but they are often not able to do so – some great hoteliers are 60+ and struggling to cope with IT BUT they offer a great product. Remember their product is an experience, a stay it is not an IT experience – they should succeed or fall on their product not their grasp of IT. They need a little protection. My vote is regulation for rate capping on OTA’s I believe at least in Europe in the wake of regulation on chargings for mobile (cell phone) inter-Europe calls we may hope that the EU will cap OTA’s it would be good to see this kind of option explored elsewhere.

       
        • Jon

          Hi John

          Thanks yes certainly software solution providers could work together, hold open days and so on.

          I spent 20 years writing code, not in this sector mine was engineering related and my wife is a usability expert, I am exposed daily to people’s issues in trying to understand procedures as they use my website. My impression through all these channels is also that software solution providers need to stop thinking that usability is a trade craft that any good interface designer will have or can pick up on the fly – usability is in itself a discipline and software solution providers who are serious about helping their users really do need to consider hiring a trained usability expert. In Denmark they do not take chances on this kind of thing – its a different attitude, if you want to work as something then you have to train for it – in contrast my experience ( ex UK ) was that in countries like Britain we will readily accept people in roles for which they undertook no specific study – a good programmer might be let loose on interface design, an interface designer might wear two hats and also be considered a usability expert.

          No – it does not work and itterative fixing based on feedback does not bridge the gap.

          Software solution provders need usability experts.

           
        • Jon

          Hi John

          On a slightly different tangent here.

          If you have clicked on my name you will see I have a user base of existing small hoteliers who want to sell and future hoteliers looking to buy.

          I have taken an interest in this issue, its a heartfelt one as I have owned a small ten room hotel myself and so I have started to explore how I might leverage my user base to help identify solutions – for instance to open some form of information channel either on or associated with my website base that explores the specific question

          “How to win when OTAs charge 25%”

          and then the general question –

          “how to balance your channels, get direct bookings and so on.”

          I have approached two suppliers who claim to have specific solutions to enable the hotelier to gain the best deal where OTAs are concerned, I have suggested that I may represent a free and worthwhile channel to showcase their solutions – not an advertising platform, I would remain neutral and not accept any gratuities.

          It is potentially a worthwhile market – in some parts of Europe we are now top dog when it comes to buying and sellling small tourist businesses – my user base are future hoteliers and with slow selling cycles and the drive to boost revenue before a sale the encumbant hotel owner should not be ignored by solution providers – both seller and buyer are potential customers for solution providers.

          I have received replies – I received replies very quickly – people were very interested although some had a hard time understanding my perspective and clearly were not particularly familiar with the woes of small hoteliers.

          My message was….

          Look this is not going to be an open channel for you to write glossy sales content – I am going to want to see clear demonstrations that show exactly how your software can enable a small hotelier to play one OTA off against the other by optimisation and software driven analysis and intelligence – I am not here to promote you or help you – I am here to help my customer base, existing and future hoteliers. I was anticipating case studies, video material – not generics real hard facts and figures case histories with hoteliers who are patently neutral and really DO feel that the software has enabled them to juggle the system to their advantage.

          Its a simple request isnt it? Show me with case histories that your software really can tackle a particular issue.

          So far people have just hit me with sales spin – nothing solid, no case histories, I want to see numbers, costs – a real black and white – non-spin presentation from these guys to show that their software can aleviate these pains.

          Perhaps it will come but I am staggered that these guys could not hit me between the eyes immediately with carefully prepared analytical, non-spin case studies – they should have been able to respond to this kind of penetrating analytic enquiry straight off.

          Perhaps they will come back at a later date with the kind of analysis I am after but if not then the remaining point I would raise is “If they cannot sell it to me then how are they going to sell it to hoteliers?”

          A cynic might say that actually its easier to sell to a non-IT savvy small hotel owner – they do not posssess my analytic skills – well perhaps so but they are also often ( as you have observed ) suspicious and cautious – some of this may be IT illiteracy showing through but some of it may also be that they are actually quite shrewd business people – perhaps not always on the ball with new technology but still not people who will swallow a line easily.

          I think that solution providers who want to sell themselves as partial solutions to what I call the 25%OTA problem need to up their game considerably in the preparation that they put into answering simple requests like.

          “OK you say this will save me money, increasing efficiency and help me counter measure excessive OTA rates by intelligent stratgies” – please prove it – no spin – copious amounts of hard fact case studies please.

          So far I have to say I am not impressed – my message would be “drop the spin drop the hype – tackle the issue and if you can find solutions then make a case for them that will satisfy the most sales spin weary person”.

          Your previous message was about looking after the less than IT savvy hotelier.

          Would you welcome a gentle critique of your “compare our products page” on this forum – not a critique of your products but a critique of the way you have presented them? You have ommited real fundamental details that would pop into the mind of any IT savvy customer but actually might very easily be echoed in the minds of less savvy customers who just don’t know quite how to express their fears?

           
      • John Jones

        Hi Jon, great comments. It would be great to have a chat. What’s the best way to connect? All the best, John

         
        • Jon

          Hi John

          Ok a gentle crtique – not of your products but of the presentation on your “compare our products page”.

          First some axioms I would like to suggest – they are subjective but they are based on a deep professional knowledge of IT and a history of running a ten room hotel (mountains) and a 140 space campsite with individual space booking and a history of being full during high season.

          1. Double bookings are the small tourist business owners nightmare, a large business can relocate clients with upgrades and complimentary bottles of bubbly – a small tourist business perhaps in a more remote location cannot.

          2. Database Client list is not just information it has value – lose that and the business could suffer terribly – view it like a ingot of gold.

          3. Bookings database is also one of the most valuable resources and it has the double sting that if the bookings database is in any way inaccessible then the nightmare of double bookings can occur. If my system goes down how can I take bookings and not risk double bookings?

          And to put it into context – your original post was about an elderly couple with a B&B who are having difficulty coming to terms with IT – so the scene I envisage is the owner of a small tourist business who
          want to take advantage of IT solutions but are having difficulties.

          Now when I turn to your “compare our products page” and in particular take a look at the free option you offer – great thats progressive but…

          Immediate doubts occur ( remember I am not critiquing the product but the presentation ) you may have solutions – thats great but I cannot see them on the compare our products page.

          Database / client list / bookings list: Ok the business owners in question may not be IT literate but they will almost certainly appreciate the value of their existing “databases” namely the notepad hand written entries you describe.

          They will have questions or anxities about how they can quickly convert their hand written notes to electronic form, being a small scale outfit they may not be able to farm this out so its probably a few
          long evenings tapping in data.

          ISSUE: Your presentation gives no information about ease of data entry – do you have anything smart like predictive text for common names? What about email mistakes? valid email format checker?
          Post code look up? Predictive text on common address nouns like “road” “avenue” “close” if not? Fear – a mistake with email might mean we never hear from customer X again!

          ISSUE: Ok the first issue was about how easily they can get their data in. Now how easily can they get their data out? They have entrusted their two ingots of gold with you, their client list and their
          bookings database (notepad!). Suppose they do not want to stay with you or perhaps like me they translate “free for ever” to “free for as long as this solution provider stays in business” – is this free offer actually
          going to be more trouble than it is worth – this may very well be the case unless you demonstrate a clear exit strategy in otherwords tell me how I can get my data back out in a neutral format for
          instance a text CSV file? If they stay with you two years then their original notepad database will be degraded.

          ISSUE: Suppose they do not want to leave, perhaps they take your free offer like what it does and then later upgrade. If they have thought this all through carefully they will have reasoned
          that there is a risk in any kind of cloud based solution. They may not know the technical terms, they may not know what “cloud” means but they may be aware that not all of the client list
          and bookings data currently resides at their site of business – instead it is out there somewhere in the hazy cloud of internet and data that they are somewhat wary of. If they are on the ball
          they will ask themselves, “Ok what happens in high season if we cannot get to see our data? If we cannot see next weeks bookings”. Now you could offer assurances here of data held
          on multiple physical sites with redudancy and backups – after all I cannot recall the last time Google had a bad day so perhaps with suitable reassurances of data integrity we can relax as far
          as the cloud is concerned but what about problems their end? What happens if their pesky WiFi takes a bad turn and the engineer cannot come out for days? When I ran a 140 space campsite
          in Denmark, a country that has one of the most sophisticated data backbones in Europe I still worried about localised data blackouts – workmen can always dig in the wrong place – AND DID! So
          what I would be looking for here from any solution provider is that they have thought this through and have perhaps offered solutions – for instance can I download a simple overview of say the
          next 14 days of bookings and keep that as a local copy on my laptop on site ( a smart system would do this automatically and regularly) – the point is I have a lifeboat (no internet connection required).
          Ok this data from the get-go will be getting out of date but at least it means if the my world turns upside down I have something to work with – something so that I can at least know who
          is turning up even if I cannot risk taking more bookings (see double booking fears above).

          Already I have outlined 3 points that would overcrowd your “compare our products page” and that in a sense for me is the issue with its structure – it is single tier, it does not allow me
          to drill down on specific issues one at a time and see non-IT-expert friendly explanations to ally my fears. Its just not enough to say “call us and we can discuss” a lot of people do not want
          to call and hit sales speak they want to drill down themselves at their own pace and see problems and solutions, scenarios role played out in user friendly formats like video.

          If your “Compare our products page” was my responsibility I would be asking myself what kind of a multi-tier media, self guided experience can I provide the prospective customer with such that we explore
          these issues in a reassuring way one step at a time and yet never hitting them with information overload. Its a great idea to look at some of the tech start ups where non of the employees are over
          the age of 21 and see how they present themselves to the prospective customer – often a page will turn out to be just the top level of a fantastic resource tree carefully presented to give people only
          what they can handle in a non-linear fashion often audio-visual fashion so that they can hop skip and jump around one nugget at a time and start to appreciate that YES the solution provider has
          thought through a lot of my concerns and has re-assuring solutions and actually they have thought through some problems I never thought of and addressed those too ( watch out other solution providers!
          I will be asking the same questions when I look at their websites ).

          In the age where people have shorter attention spans and less patience they will move on to another solution providers website if they do not see early and easily understood information
          which enables them to see that this solution provider really is ‘on the ball’ – they are not just a crowd of IT experts who have no real experience of running a tourist business, they understand
          the issues and the fears and they have a great modern multi-tier approach in presenting this so that unlike the monologue I am writing they can select, drill down and get to grips
          with it all one easy step at a time – this used to be ‘post-sale’ care now it is ‘pre-sale’ even ‘pre-first-contact-care’, my view is that solution providers who think a tech-sales phone call is the
          way to deal with this will not survive the current wave of sophistication being seen in ‘pre-first-contact-care’ presentation.

          Again a point already raised – free offers of cutdown products or trial periods suit some software sales but the issue here is that any kind of meaningful evaluation means data entry or data
          conversion* – that is a hurdle to “suck it and see” evaluation – what the user needs here is upfront pre-sales indepth information carefully packaged so that they can decide if they are even
          interested in pursuing further. The resistance you see with the elderly couple with a B&B may not just reflect their fears about the day to day use of the software, it may also reflect the upheaval
          and unknowns that they fear in the early stages of adopting the software in the first place.

          * I am assuming that data exchange through neutral formats like XML is not adopted or standardised in the hotel management software industry, in the engineering software world neutral
          formats do exist – its not possible to sell software that will not import competitor formats or neutral formats. Protectionism of market share by means of closed formats is not seen as
          a productive route for solution providers – buyers avoid software that will lead to lock-in and almost always demand and expect an exit strategy for a relatively painless transfer to a
          competitor format.

           
  10. Richard Vaughton

    As Suzana said its about dependency and guest ownership. Disintermediation and OTA remarketing only enhances the OTA brand and their opportunity to increase the commissions. From what we see, the guest is paying more and more, not the supplier anymore. This will surely see new tech provide a counterbalance to the increasingly heavy seesaw partner hotels and rentals now have. No supplier is going to object to a sensible fee and guest transparency. The irritation is not just about fees either from what we see it is the imbalance on perceived work differentials. OTA’s have a place but you have to suspect as inventlory grows and prices increase new opportunities arise.

     
  11. Suzana

    I agree. But the important thing is to maintain a balance between direct booking with OTAs. Hotels still need OTAs, anyhow too dependent is also unhealthy because it opens the possibility to be dictated by OTAs and it is not good for business in the long run.

     
 
 

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