Travelers also use major digital platforms to search for a hotel room, then book directly with the establishment, according to an unprecedented study.
OTAs directly generate 40% of overnight stays by independent hoteliers over the reference year 2019. This is one of the conclusions of a study conducted by the research firm EY Parthenon for Booking.com, with 600 independent hoteliers in Europe *, including around 100 in France. Unsurprisingly, the platforms thus represent the first distribution channel among the hoteliers surveyed. According to another study unveiled by D-edge, Booking.com largely dominates sales, ahead of its competitor Expedia.
Another conclusion to remember from EY: to these 40% are added 18% of sales “influenced” by OTAs. In other words, these are files for which the Internet user has used the platform as a comparator, before finalizing the reservation by contacting the establishment. So many “non-commissioned” sales, said Julia Amsellem, partner at EY Parthenon, during a recent webinar on the impact of digital for independent hoteliers, the majority in Europe. An ideal scenario for the hotelier of course…
“Online channels are driving growth, while physical channels are suffering a bit,” added Julia Amsellem, graphing support (see end of article).
Based on 2019 data, “OTAs bring independent hoteliers 20% to 30% more bookings,” she added. These bookings come largely from international customers. Travelers who are difficult to capture without a world-famous, multilingual site.
“The OTAs are one of the distribution channels allowing to develop its customer base, especially international. But you also have to mix your clientele with domestic, as the health crisis has proven to us, ”noted Fabienne Ardouin, co-president of the Europe and Digital Commission of the National Group of Independents (GNI). It is up to the accommodation providers to carefully study their yield and their other acquisition levers, insisted this manager of two hotels.
“What is important is the complementarity of the channels,” recognizes Malena Gufflet, general manager of Booking.com in France. There are as many strategies as there are hotels, depending on its destination, seasonality, resources, number of rooms… ”
For Eric Bothorel, LaRem deputy for Côtes d’Armor, “the question is not whether we can do without OTAs, which are essential. Let us see them not as a threat but as an opportunity. The legislator that I am will remain vigilant on the same issues as those of platforms in other sectors of activity: the maintenance of fair competition within OTAs themselves, without dependence on a player, and that of a quality of dialogue between the customer and the service provider, which does not only go through digital technology, to resolve the small stones that sometimes arise during a reservation. “
Hotels want to better manage their reputation
What are the fears expressed by hoteliers with regard to these global platforms? Comments likely to downgrade their overall rating, and too much dependence, replied Julia Amsellem. Fabienne Ardouin, from the GNI, also makes two requests on behalf of her colleagues: the general calculation of the commission on prices including VAT, and not excluding VAT, as well as access to customers’ e-mail addresses.
When it comes to reputation management, how to support hotels? “In terms of customer satisfaction, it would be very interesting to have access to data from the different platforms,” said Caroline Leboucher, CEO of Atout France. History to better understand the points of friction for example. To this end, Atout France is also reaching out to Booking.com to co-organize training sessions for accommodation providers. The organization has already planned, recently, training sessions with Google France to help hosts in their referencing. “The platforms can also be important partners, by highlighting the initiatives of the hosts”, estimates Caroline Leboucher. Booking.com invites hotels to promote their sustainable practices, from their partner page, and is preparing the publication of a study on the subject, said Malena Gufflet.
* Small and medium-sized independent hoteliers, with fewer than 250 rooms, belonging to groups of up to three establishments.
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Independent hoteliers: OTAs generate 40% of overnight stays