Bad news for the big OTAs as a survey of American travelers shows that direct bookings are up. More travelers are going directly to travel supplier websites to research and book.
More American travelers are making direct bookings, bypassing the big online travel agency (OTA) websites. MMGY Global’s 2015 Portrait of American Travelers (POAT) makes disturbing reading for the OTAs but is heartening news for vacation rental owners in the US.
According to Fox News: ‘Only 58 per cent of travelers surveyed said they obtained travel information from an OTA during the past year, down significantly from the 84 per cent who did so in 2014.’
Only 13 per cent booked through OTAs
The influential annual survey this year polled more than 2,800 Americans. Findings showed that among travelers who usually get information from an OTA when planning their vacation, only 13 percent actually book through these sites. This compares with 36 percent just one year ago.
Why? Well, 64 per cent cited their main reason for booking direct was to get the best deal. Plus 67 per cent said they generally find it more convenient than booking with an OTA.
This is music to the ears of vacation rental owners. Those who subscribe to Homes and Rooms have even more reason to be pleased as all our subscribers have the ability to take payments direct to their account via the Guest Portal we provide. They don’t need or necessarily want any third party holding their money as happens with bookings via OTAs.
OTAs bow to pressure in Europe
This report is not the only current thorn in the side of the industry’s big OTA players. In 3 European countries, Booking.com and Expedia have had to bow to pressure from hotel industries and competition authorities to change their contracts with hotels there to allow flexibility on rate setting.
As a result, new regulations came into effect from the beginning of August in Sweden, Italy and France. Under the new rules, hotels will no longer be expected to offer the same rates through all booking sites. Instead, they will be able offer different rates to different OTAs, as they choose. It also seems that they will also be able to offer yet another different rate to direct callers on the phone. Which raises the possibility that guests in the know will ring the hotel and book direct for a cheaper stay.
Put these two stories together and it seems to point to a turning tide for the OTAs. One that could benefit vacation rental owners on both sides of the Altantic.