Netflix beats booking.com
If this sounds a little bit catchy and simplified – well it is. But I will try to make my point below.
In whatever relationship you are within the hotel industry, you can not miss that the – lets say “difficult” – relationship between OTAs and Hotels is one of the most discussed topics. With the big chains leading, there are various “book direct” campaigns and the goal to increase the number of loyalty program members and gain power on the negotiation table was one of the main motivations for the Marriott-Starwood merger (and for more to come).
However, despite all those efforts, there are good reasons why many expect the importance of OTAs to increase further and calling it an unwinnable war.
Lets assume this to be the case: OTAs are part of the (market) reality, they bring guests and get commissions which can (and have to) be negotiated.
As long as guests see hotels as pure commodities OTAs have strategic advantages and are paid with a part of the roomrate.
And this gives already the hints, where Hotels have their strategic advantages. Be no commodity. Gain revenue besides the roomrate.
One way is to stand out, to transform the brand or property in something else than a pure commodity. At one HITEC some years ago, the CEO of Caesars said it: “Expedia, Booking.com – this are the places where customers go, if they don’t care about what you do.”
And a second statement back then was also quite interesting: “I’m always discouraged to see that so many of our most talented technologists are throwing themselves at how people buy travel than how to make that travel experience itself memorable.”
Nowadays there are many ways how technology can improve the experience. Mobile check-in, using the smartphone for opening the doors, being able to access hotel information via mobile apps, maybe a tablet in the room, the possibility to communicate with hotel staff via texting (on whatever preferred tool or messenger), use data to personalize services and – last but not least – to stream your Netflix or whatever preferred OTT content to the in-room TV. All this has the potential of making you special, to stand out of all the commodities, to gain loyal guests. A Hotelier with whom I spoke lately put it short and catchy: OTT beats OTA (or Netflix beats booking.com).
And of course, it is at your property, when the guests came through your door (after some OTA sent them there) where you have all chances to create a loyal customer. Every touchpoint offers a chance, be it digital or personal.
Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi once said at a conference to hoteliers: ‘You guys all criticize me for how much I charge you for guests to come to your hotel. I think you’re looking at it wrong. Look at us as the cheapest source of referrals that you could imagine. If they come through me, you pay me once, and if they come back to me again and again, shame on you. You should make them a loyal customer.’ Well, he has a point here.
Use the options technology offers with Smart TVs, Mobile Apps, Wifi Splash page, Digital Signage in order to create and use more touchpoints, to be able to communicate and collect data about preferences. And provide easy ways for your guests to stream their preferred content to the TV – all ways to positively influence the experience and help to stand out from the crowd.
Next time, lets have a look on reviews.