£20million saving could force guests to book direct
How do you grab the public’s attention? It’s simple – you tell them they can save money. A lot of money.
According to a recent study by IHG Rewards Club, the loyalty programme of InterContinental Hotels Group, a massive three quarters of British hospitality guests shun direct bookings for price comparison websites. That alone isn’t surprising to anyone operating an accommodation business – in fact, it is the bane of B&B owners’ lives – but it may raise an eyebrow amongst the general public. Finally.
The study claims that guests could collectively save as much as £20million per year if they choose to book direct.
Guests’ tendency to opt for price comparison websites usually results in them booking via online travel agencies (OTAs), thus inadvertently costing their chosen accommodation provider a not-insignificant commission fee. Few guests realise this, so any coverage for this contentious topic in the mass media can only be a good thing.
In our industry, we’re forever talking about the benefits of direct booking for the accommodation provider. “My commission bills are huge! I need people to book directly!” you say, every time the Booking.com invoice drops into your inbox. But what about the guests? What’s in it for them if they book direct?
The modern leisure guest wants a memorable stay. The business guest wants decent WiFi and a desk at which to work. But they both share one commonality: they want the best room rate. How ironic, then, that the guests of today are clearly spending more than they need to on accommodation simply because of some rather clever marketing tactics on behalf of price comparisons websites and OTAs.
The IHG study was picked up by the Daily Mail Online, who opened their piece with an attention-grabbing suggestion: “…which means the vast majority [of travellers] could be stretching their purse strings more than they need to.” They also pointed to the recent UK government report that has recommended increased transparency and greater accountability for online travel agencies.
Increased exposure for this topic is potentially fantastic news for B&B owners. Guests have developed habits that are costing them and needlessly reducing the profitability of the rooms they book, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Nothing quite grabs consumers’ attention more readily than a suggestion that there is money to be saved if buying habits are modified.
Perhaps guests will begin to do just that.
Mark Ellis is the Marketing Director at Welcome Systems, a developer of booking software for hotels and B&Bs.
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