Perception is everything – online travel agencies better for deals than direct and offline agents

It’s no wonder that hotels and airlines often feel like they’re hitting their heads against a brick wall.

Trying as hard as they can to inform consumers that coming direct to a brand’s website is the best way to get the best price, travellers still consider online travel agencies the channel of choice.

Global finance house HSBC released a report this month (called “Anatomy of the Consumer” – not available online) looking at the buying habits of travellers and those shopping in other industry verticals.

In the travel sector, it’s study of 2,000 consumers found that 51.4% expected to get the best deals from OTAs, with 31.7% from hotels or airlines, and just 17% from offline travel agencies.

HSBC says airlines and hotel chains are “eager to develop a direct relationship with their clients, to own the relationship with them and secure loyalty”, yet the report shows far hotels and airlines need to go in order to change the perception that OTAs will score a better price.

The research has been cited as background to a new campaign – “Better Book Direct” – by Best Western in the UK, in a bid to encourage more bookings on its own website, similar to the Marriott campaign in the US a few years ago.

Director of marketing, Sarah Fussey, says:

“What’s frustrating is that that we know this is isn’t the case and that’s a perception that our Better Book Direct campaign is looking to break.

“We want to reward our most loyal customers with giving them the lowest prices.”

Slightly better news for hotels comes in the same study, with nearly two-thirds of respondents (62%) claiming they would not or hate not considered using Airbnb for their accommodation needs.

Interestingly, HSBC found that price was the determining factor for those who would choose an Airbnb property, rather than the facets that the company arguably tries to portray such as atmosphere, local viewpoint, unusual experience, etc.

airbnb online travel agencies

airbnb online travel agencies

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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.





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  1. Ben Dover

    Probably a reflection on the enormous advertising spends of OTAs.
    I worked with an OTA who has rather dubious practices regarding generating income on screenscraped flight prices yet I know people who believe they get best prices from this OTA… all due to mass media advertising.

  2. Dorian Harris

    “Trying as hard as they can to inform consumers that coming direct to a brand’s website is the best way to get the best price”.

    It’s not. It’s the way to get the same price.

    • Duke

      I’d say you are mostly right. But some hotels are putting lower website prices and/or adding freebies for booking direct. Plus it’s easier to cancel/change when not dealing with an OTA.

  3. murray harrold

    ….. From which we may conclude that only 17% of “consumers” know what they are doing….. 😊


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