Game on: OTAs still have the edge but for how long?
In the battle for share of travel bookings, OTAs remain strong contenders but there is no room for complacency, writes Ritesh Gupta
Year after year there is talk of supplier brand websites and travel meta-search engines posing a stronger challenge than ever to online travel agencies (OTAs).
But OTAs, especially the established ones, still have an edge in this competitive game. Even suppliers have to acknowledge this. “Although renewed interest in meta-search, social media and more accessible technology provide great opportunity to tilt balance, the OTAs still wield disproportionate power in the overall distribution landscape. Bigger chains and groups are more successful and wresting some control back but they represent relatively smaller numbers from the whole,” says Chetan Patel, VP, Strategic Marketing & E-Commerce, Onyx Hospitality Group.
A mixed bag
As Patel points out, the online business or the e-commerce category means different things to different hotels. “For many it is the high yield segment. For others it is replacing the traditional lower rate segments like groups and tour series. And there are others where it is the bread and butter, meaning pretty much all of their business. It is not a level playing field and hotels are competing for business on a variety of levels on OTAs,” he says.