Hotel Online  Special Report

Hotel Supplier Sites versus
Online Travel Agents;
The War Chronicles


By: Neil Salerno, Hotel Marketing Coach – June 2005

C’mon people…do we really need to chronicle and perpetuate the war between hotel supplier and online travel agent sites? The fact is that travel agent booking portals are not going away anytime soon. Franchises…learn to live with that.

It seems that more and more people are reporting on and/or choosing sides on this issue. The online war between hotel direct suppliers and online travel agents appears to stimulate many people inside and outside the hotel industry. Every day, more and more articles are appearing with a body-count of numbers with first one, then the other taking the lead in the battle for the Internet. Both supplier-side and online travel agent bookings will be here for quite some time, no matter who is ahead at any one time.

The way I see it, both hotels and online travel agents are doing a great job. Anything that promotes travel is a “good thing”. This battle has made both sides stronger. Competition stimulates innovation. The battle caused hotel franchises to improve their site navigation and booking engines; online travel agents sites have improved. Does it really matter who is ahead of the other at any particular moment in time? We need them both. Why would anyone want to destroy a partner which is developing business for hotels they represent? 

Independent properties need online travel agents to remain competitive with bigger box franchise competition. Franchised hotels need online travel agent production to maximize their exposure in the marketplace. Online travel booking portals are still more prominent in destination searches. Want to give that up? The fact is that online travel agents are providing marketplace exposure to all hotels which would otherwise be financially unattainable to most of them. 

When the major franchises learn how to work with online travel agents, instead of battling them, perhaps we will make real progress. Working through intimidation and threats seems like a poor way to gain co-operation; yet some franchises have resorted to imposing unrealistic rules on online agents. I wish more franchises would recognize that we need both of them to be successful. Is this meant to limit their success? There is no evil empire which needs to be defeated. 

The Internet and resulting online travel agents are providing independent hotels with the ability to be competitive with franchise hotels for the first time in the world-wide marketplace. What’s wrong with competition?

During the advent of the Global Distribution System, hotel franchises embraced its new technology. Hotels of all kinds welcomed the GDS, eager to get their share of new travel agent and airline generated room business. The GDS thrived for many years and is still strong today. Of course the franchises were quick to have all their franchisees register the GDS through the franchise. 

Today’s new breed of travel agents, online and offline, will survive for many years to come. Many travelers are still sensitive to the unique relationship they can develop with their “travel expert”. There will always be a place for their expertise and assistance to the traveling public. Recent data seems to indicate that many travelers enjoy the convenience of using online travel agents (third-party aggregators) to book air, car, and hotel at one site.

One day, the use of online travel agents, direct hotel suppliers, and GDS suppliers will stabilize. The primary winner will be the provider which is able to serve travelers in the best possible way. Let’s do away with the “lowest rate guaranteed” nonsense. It’s just not fair to franchisees who are trying to improve their average rates because it affects all their rates. It’s a poor way to sell anything.

Let’s get back to selling rooms by value and better service and stop selling rooms by rate. The Internet was never meant to be a bargain basement. A summit meeting between hotel franchises and online travel giants could result enough synergy to help the entire industry.


Neil Salerno, C.H.M.E., C.H.A.
The Hotel Marketing Coach

Also See: New Hotel Technology Surround Us; Yet Face-to-face Selling is Still Most Productive / Neil Salerno / June 2005
The Internet…The Great Equalizer For Independent Hotels / Neil Salerno / June 2005
Third-Party Booking Sites Still Dominate Internet Sales;  Why Do So Many Consider this Bad? / Neil Salerno / April 2005
Now That Online Hotel Booking Is Here to Stay, New Challenges Emerge / Neil Salerno / April 2005
Independent Boutique Hotels Can Compete With their Big Box Neighbors / Neil Salerno / April 2005
Who Are Your Most Important Guests? We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby! / Neil Salerno / March 2005
New Consumer Hotel Booking Preferences - They Love the Internet…Now What? / Neil Salerno / March 2005
Who Would Have Thought - Today's Hotel Marketing Necessity Is Also its Best Value / March 2005
Time For a Hotel Web Site “Make-Over”? Methods for Building a Successful Web Site Change / Neil Salerno / March 2005
Create Impact by Developing a Link Strategy For Your Hotel Web Site / Neil Salerno / February 2005
Steps to Develop Your Hotel's Presence on the Web / Neil Salerno / February 2005
Five Hotel Internet Marketing Myths - Busted!/ Neil Salerno / January 2005
How Does Your Hotel Web Site Measure-Up? 2005 Will Be the Internet’s Most Productive Year so Far / Neil Salerno / January 2005
Are You Being Out-Hustled By Your Competition? How to Dominate Your Hotel's Market Set / Neil Salerno / December 2004
Why Are Some Hotel Companies Plagued By Management Turnover? Is This Systematic of Poor Performance? / Neil Salerno / December 2004
Basic Components of a Hotel Website: Current Weather, Flash Animation, and Virtual Tours?? Plain Talk About Internet Sales / Neil Salerno / February 2004
Don’t Compromise Your Goals In 2004; Five New Year’s Resolutions You Will Want To Keep / Neil Salerno / January 2004
No More Whining About Third-Party Suppliers; You Control Your Own Fate On The Net / Neil Salerno / December 2003
Six 'Maxi’s' Guaranteed To Boost Hotel Sales / Neil Salerno / November 2003
It’s Time To Take Back Control Of Rates & Rooms - But Is The Enemy...Us? / Neil Salerno / November 2003
Booking Engines Are Like A Box of Chocolates...You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get! / Neil Salerno / October 2003
Hotel Web Site & Search Engine Optimization; Always A Work In Progress / Neil L. Salerno / October 2003
Hotel Budgets and Marketing Plans; Oh No, Is It That Time Again? / Neil L. Salerno / September 2003
Increasing Hotel Internet Sales Is Not Rocket Science...And It Doesn’t Have To Be Costly Either / Neil L. Salerno / September 2003
Are You Treating Third Party eWholesalers As Competititon Or a Valuable Marketing Partner? / Neil L. Salerno / August 2003
How Often Have You Heard, 'I could have gotten a better rate but the client saw our rates on the Internet' ? It’s Time To Get Back To Selling Location, Facilities, and Services / Neil L. Salerno / August 2003
Before You Begin that Marketing Plan Challenge Your Sales Team; Expect More and Get More / Neil L. Salerno / July 2003
Jump Up and Shout Yes - Delivering Best Online Customer Experience, Nice Job Vividence! / Neil L. Salerno / July 2003
Is The Internet Delivering On Its Promise? Well, It Depends on How you Look at It / Neil L. Salerno / June 2003
Coaching and Mentoring, Sometimes A New Paradigm Can Go A Long Way / Neil L. Salerno / June 2003
Sales Training Works Well, But Sales Mentoring Makes It More Effective; Mentoring Lasts a Lifetime / Neil L. Salerno / May 2003
Is It Time For A Sales Tune-up? How Healthy Was Your Last Forecast? / Neil L. Salerno / May 2003
Hotel Web Sites; Want it Creative or Effective? / Neil L. Salerno / May 2003
If You Always Do What You Have Always Done.... You’ll Always Get What You Always Got! Hotelier’s Mantra... Thinking Outside The Box / Neil L. Salerno / April 2003
Good Sales Planning - The Basics Still Work / Neil L. Salerno / April 2003

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