When we want to book a hotel we automatically go to our favourite online travel agency (OTA), also known as a booking portal. There are many benefits to using an OTA, the most common is being able to see a list of nearby hotels and prices in the area you plan to visit. Sometimes there are deals on a certain hotel and you immediately book to save money. While this helps you, it is not really beneficial to the hotel where you’re staying. When you book through an OTA, the hotel loses money from a commission, plus an extra cut if the OTA offers a “sale price”. So, what is the alternative? Here I share my thoughts on 2 rising travel innovators and the advantages of direct bookings.
Triptease aims to change the hotel booking paradigm. The winner of 2015’s European Travel Innovator Award intends to increase the number of direct bookings a hotel gets. Triptease has 6 main goals: acquire, compare, convert, assist, analyze and improve. Smart bidding is their method to attract customers who are most likely to book directly from their clients (hotels). This is achieved by using data based off of potential value gained from having the customer book as well as the likelihood that they will book at the offered price.
Another component is the automated messaging system. It’s designed to do 2 unique things. The first is to have custom messages pop up to attract customers to the hotel’s website. There’s even an option to tailor this to specific demographics. You can also include the current price of your hotel and compare it to OTAs so that the customer knows they are getting a good deal. The second is an automated chat service where the most common questions are answered in real time vs waiting for an employee. This automated chat can even help a customer book and pay for their reservation.
With all these different factors coming into play, Triptease has also created a comprehensive data analytics program for hotels. It is possible to view disparity in real time, letting hotels see when other OTAs are charging less than the standard rate and by how much, thus giving an opportunity for price adjustments. Besides, hotels can view rates of direct booking conversions against page visitors, as well as ROI numbers and parity trends.
Author’s Take on Triptease
Triptease is great for small hotel chains and a family-run hotel. These types of hotels need all of the exposure they can get. I think it nicely plays off what Google has done. Google Maps offers hotel summaries of all standard hotels that fit their unique requirements. They also list the price to book direct at the hotel and list several OTA booking prices below it. Triptease elevates this with their automated messaging system and smart bidding method. I personally like the automated messaging because it makes it easier to find important info that can be buried in some hard to navigate sites.
However, it will never truly undermine OTAs as there are some smaller hotels that only use OTAs for booking, purely to save money or to make it easier for people from anywhere to book. Plus, if you don’t use Google Maps, an OTA is useful to find basically all hotels in your destination.
Now that hotels have the ability to increase their amount of direct bookings they’re going to increase the amount of data they collect and will need to improve their marketing plan. SnapShot is the first independent hospitality data processing platform. They currently manage data for over 6,000 hotels.
Snapshot offers a wide variety of services for the hotel industry through education, their app marketplace, analytical solutions, and data processing.
For education, Snapshot offers online courses, classes at universities, and a skills course for corporate employees. SnapShot covers reporting for either a single hotel property or the entire collection. The dashboard is where you’ll be able to see all of your data at once in a simple and easy to understand format. You can use this to help figure out when to start charging for peak pricing or lower rates for the off-season to ensure you can get more bookings. The main program component also deals with segment reporting and helps create both segments as well as consolidate them into one screen.
The SnapShot marketplace offers 13 unique apps. The apps have some overlap in terms of features. These range from working with customer reviews and messaging, to dealing with revenue and everything in between. The apps Seatris, Enigma, and KePLSA make up a good variety offered in the marketplace.
- Seatris is a reservation app. Its purpose is to be used by hotel restaurants for seating reservations. By having online reservations employees save time with fewer phone bookings and a reduced chance of overbooking the space for a given time of day.
- Enigma collects data and displays it on an easy-to-read screen. The data included is analytics on performance and reservations. What makes this app unique is its forecast data based on booking trends.
- KePLSA is designed to analyze guest reviews. This app helps provide hotels with data on customer satisfaction and engagement. With the added ability to respond to customer reviews from this app, employees can help drive up a hotel’s customer satisfaction.
SnapShot truly gives you the option to just focus on one aspect of your business’s data or on all of it. Either way, your data will be simplified and you’ll be able to easily identify where your business can and needs to grow.
Author’s Take on Snapshot
The sheer amount of apps designed by this company is certainly impressive and there are several of these that can be easily used by companies that aren’t in the hotel industry. Apps like Seatris and KePLSA, while designed specifically for hotels, can be easily changed to work for restaurants or sporting events. I’m also a fan of the fact that SnapShot offers its own education both as employer workshops and as online courses for the general public. As we, as a society, deal with technology and data nonstop it’s nice to have a real breakdown to coping with this. This not only ensures proper utilization of the programs, but also the ability to do more and succeed much farther than the competition.
Author’s final considerations
Key advantages of direct booking
- Many hotels offer incentives, like free breakfast or 5% off the room price if you stay 3+ days.
- The information on the hotel’s website is significantly more accurate than the OTA’s. I’ve seen OTAs claim certain features/services that are not even present on the hotel’s authority website.
- More control over the type of room you book and its features.
- Increase in profits.
- More data to better understand your optimal client base.
- Better assurance that you have the correct info about your client, as sometimes there can be errors when OTAs transfer the info over.
Based off of personal experience direct booking is truly the way to go, provided the hotel’s authority website has the option for that. Yes, direct bookings may be slightly more expensive, but you’re guaranteed a room once you book, unlike AirBnB which can cancel on you within 3 hours of your scheduled arrival. Plus, AirBnB isn’t even legal in certain cities or countries and you could end up staying illegally without even realizing it. Booking directly with hotels can give you more options, like late check-out or other add-ons. In the end, you’ll have a safe place to stay at and isn’t that what matters most?
Niki Sohnly graduated from the University of Washington with degrees in Germanics, business administration, dance and a certificate in localization. After having successful careers as a localization project manager and as a host for her own Argentine tango dance event, she discovered her passion as a travel writer. Her hobbies include studying foreign languages, reading spy novels, dancing and acting. To connect with Niki or be interviewed by her, you can reach out on Linkedin.