Tens of millions of Americans who book hotel rooms on third-party booking websites and apps know the truth: Booking through OTA platforms is safe, easy, transparent and most of all, personalized to their needs and budget. The reliability of independent bookings is why hundreds of thousands of hotels, motels, inns, and B&Bs in every corner of the globe willingly partner with online travel companies.
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Travel Tech in Money Inc: Millions Book with OTAs with Good Reason: Price, Reliability, Ease and Quality Experiences
Travel Tech on August 01, 2018
Every day, millions of American consumers visit online travel agency websites (OTAs) when preparing for a trip. According to recent surveys by JD Power, guests who book utilizing OTAs cite the favorable pricing they receive as well as previous good experiences as the top reasons for choosing an OTA booking channel. Whether it’s for a business meeting on the other side of the country, a long overdue family vacation, a golf trip with buddies or a quick weekend getaway, OTAs are trusted to provide the traveler with all the information necessary to make an informed choice.
Unfortunately, some are trying to convince consumers otherwise. A recent article in Lodging, the magazine of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), reported that hotel booking scams cost consumers $5.2 billion in 2017. But there is simply no evidence of consumer harm or data to support such a claim.
What’s more, none of the major government or consumer watchdog organizations have flagged booking scams as a major concern. The Federal Trade Commission, the National Consumer League, Consumer Federation, Consumer’s Union, and Travelers United, do not list hotel bookings as a top consumer complaint or risk for scam or fraud. The Federal Trade Commission lists travel as #15 on its list of consumer complaints, but the category only includes “Deceptive offers for ‘free’ or low-cost vacations; cut-rate student travel packages; misleading timeshare offers.”
The truth is brand agnostic leisure travelers rely on the ability to comparison shop online and see all their options in one place. The claims made by the AHLA are simply a misinformation campaign to scare consumers into thinking that booking via online travel websites is fraught with peril and that they should only book direct on the hotel website.
The numbers don’t lie: A recent report from Piper Jaffray shows that when it comes to booking hotels, 87% of the time, consumers will find the same price or lower when shopping for hotels on online travel sites. So not only is there no record of consumer harm, but evidence shows that consumers continue to save when booking with OTAs.
We agree with hotel operators like Judy Zehnder Keller, president of the Bavarian Inn Lodge and Convention Center in Frankenmuth, Michigan, who stated recently that it’s up to hotels to earn customer loyalty through ensuring the quality of their experience is fantastic, no matter if they booked direct or through an OTA. This mindset will serve hoteliers like Keller well, especially as studies show 77% of travelers are undecided on brand at start of customer journey.