Marriott hits back at travel agent criticism over direct booking ad

Marriott has defended its decision to run a campaign that encourages users to book direct, rather than through intermediaries.

The hotel chain was on the receiving end of scathing feedback from the American Society of Travel Agents which questioned if the #ItPaysToBookDirect campaign is “legal and truthful”.

The campaign was launched last week and features American comedian, actress and “YouTube personality” Grace Helbig in a series of videos designed to extol the financial virtues of booking direct with the chain.

Marriott argues that guests who book on the brand’s website or via its call centre will be able to access the rates and obtain the most accurate information about a property.

Following ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby’s accusation that the campaign is “disparaging to travel agents, but also misleading to the traveling public”, Marriott says “we highly value our relationship with travel agents and recognise the service they offer to customers”.

In terms of the campaign, an official says it is “simply another common practice effort to create awareness of our existing site to inform customers who choose to make their own reservations”.

“Customer awareness of our existing direct channel benefits is low, particularly regarding our Best Rate Guarantee, a policy that has existed since 2004.”

The official says the campaign is familiar to any company looking to “promote and gain awareness for its services and brands”.

Marriott claims travel agents are an “important distribution partner” for the chain, in particular highlighting those in the managed corporate travel sector.

There is no suggest from Marriott that it will accept ASTA’s demands to axe the campaign.

The chain plans to show the ads online as one-minute spots and then extend the campaign to Facebook during November.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



ASTA Marriott


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  1. Alia

    I am really glad that Marriott came with this idea. For sure common John needs re-educated that bookings can be made directly to a hotel. OTAs are becoming more and more the absolute master in the travel industry. And the slaves don’t have any right to say something, God forbidden!
    ASTA is just hilarious – how to ask a private company to stop its ads? What would the next logical step? Ask ASTA what rate to set for YOUR hotel and YOUR room?


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