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Hotels and Online Travel Agencies Idea Proposal (EXPE, HLT, MAR, PCLN)

Hotels and Online Travel Agencies Idea Proposal (EXPE, HLT, MAR, PCLN)

Are hotels getting customers to book directly with them instead of using Online Travel Agencies?

Report Available: June 28, 2017


Blueshift’s initial research found hotels trying to increase their direct bookings over having guests use online travel agencies (OTAs), which are more costly to the hotels because of the commissions they charge. It is a tall task as OTAs have been a valuable partner over the years and have become travelers’ first place to turn when booking travel because of the plethora of choices all in one place, the ability to package airfare and rental cars, and the seemingly lower rates.



  1. Leading hotel companies are working to get customers re-engaged in booking their stays directly with the hotels instead of through OTAs. MAR, HLT, and IHG have seen OTAs rise in popularity as a means for booking rooms, but it has come at a cost as the OTAs take upwards of a 30% commission for these services. In response, hotels are offering lower rates and other incentives to motivate customers, especially their loyalty members, to book directly with them. Additionally, the largest U.S. hotel trade group is taking on OTAs with its lobbying efforts, though MAR and HLT are not involved.
  2. Hotels are looking for alternate ways to offer attractive packages to rewards members, leading MAR to invest in Place Pass, a tour- and activity-booking startup, allowing guests to experience destinations from the perspective of a local instead of engaging only in tourist activities. This is another response to OTAs, who more frequently package experiential deals for travelers.
  3. Younger travelers are more likely to use OTAs to book hotels, while older travelers are more likely to be hotel rewards members, increasing their chances of booking directly with hotels. A report from Adara Inc. showed 52% of travelers age 18 to 34 book hotels through OTAs, while only 37% of those 35 and older do so.
  4. Of concern for both hotels and OTAs is the slow start to 2017 for the travel industry. The U.S. travel ban caused a loss of $185 million in business travel bookings in one week, according to the Global Business Traveler’s Association, which warns of a projected decline in overall travel-related hotel, food, rental car and shopping spending of $1.3 billion in 2017.
  5. Blueshift’s March 9 report said MAR’s acquisition of Starwood strengthens the company, giving it more leverage over vast inventory, and also could help the hotel industry regain some power from OTAs.


What are hotels offering travelers as incentives to get them to book directly instead of using OTAs? How is this resonating with travelers?  How are OTAs responding? How much can hotels expect direct bookings to increase? What are travel and booking trends looking like for the summer? To answer these and other questions, Blueshift will gather data and issue a market research report from independent sources in the following areas: Hotel executives, Hotel management groups, OTA executives, and Industry specialists.


Companies: Expedia (EXPE), Hilton (HLT), Hyatt Hotels (H), InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Marriott (MAR), Priceline (PCLN), Tripadvisor (TRIP), Wyndham (WYN)


Research Begins: June 12, 2017