With favourable external factors such as broadband growth and macro economic situation, online travel intermediaries are gaining in popularity as a distribution channel in the hospitality industry in the Latin American market. (8/6/2007)
Suppliers are giving recognition to OTAs, even as they are focusing on their own direct channels. For example, in March this year Hyatt translated its sites to be 100 percent bookable in Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese languages. Some suppliers feel that some sort of progress has been made by OTAs but still there is a long way to go as far as Latin-based savvy distribution sites are concerned.
Among the OTAs in the region, Hoteldo.com has been around for seven years. On how hoteliers are working with online intermediaries to expand reach with a cost-effective distribution model, Alejandro Calligaris, CEO, Hoteldo.com told EyeforTravel.com’s Ritesh Gupta, “As of today, hotels do see the online distributors as a channel which helps them to work with much more flexibility regarding fares and a larger product distribution based on a regional and worldwide level. Working with a few intermediaries, they reach to millions of customers.”
“The relationship with the hotels is improving day by day, as long as the hotels are receiving more quantity from our distribution channel and they understand the potential of the online distribution.”
He added, “Usually hoteliers choose our company because they feel we understand the Latin American market and their needs. Also because Hoteldo.com, with seven years of experience, is the Latin-American leader company in online hotel reservations.”
Hoteliers in Latin America say the challenges for them include improving distribution in areas where costs are high, connectivity is challenging and returns are minimal. For example, Hyatt International Corporation acknowledges that this will continue to be a struggle as they try to meet the demands of its owners yet trying to establish a presence in the electronic distribution community. On this, Calligaris acknowledged that Latin America is eight years behind USA.
“Nowadays the costs are getting lower, the connectivity is improving and there are hotels with more than 20 percent of occupancy online. This percentage is growing up in volume.” It is being felt that with travelers needing help in understanding the diversity in destinations and how suppliers’ offerings shape up, that’s where an online partner enters the picture in Latin America.
Sharing his viewpoint regarding the same, Calligaris said, “I think using the suppliers´offerings online that are specialised in determinates areas, allows the final customer a better understanding regarding the huge range of destinations. Normally, for the relevant and quality information, nowadays, the majority of the travelers before travelling search on the Internet and from such information they find easily the one, which is more organised, purified and classified. This kind of information is offered by the intermediaries online.”
In the near future, Hoteldo.com is keen on expanding its operations in the region by opening new offices apart from sustaining its leadership status in the industry.