There’s no approach to put this gently, so here it goes: The fast enrichment in digital technology is transforming a friendly universe of travel sell into an all-out fight for customers. And that’s a good thing for we and me as travelers, because it will eventually meant some-more selection, improved customization and, potentially, reduce prices.
The Travel Industry Today Is More Tech-Savvy Than Ever …
I’m not articulate here about travel planning. That “great unbundling” took place years ago interjection to a proliferation of online travel agencies (OTAs), meta hunt sites and, some-more recently, mobile travel apps like HotelTonight.
The fight I’m articulate about is holding place behind a scenes, as technology fast transforms a margin of digital marketing. RTB, SDK, DMP, DSP, IDFA, API, Hadoop and Hive are a weapons that are used to salary this war, and they are changing how travel brands promulgate with travelers.
Today, brands can send bespoke offers milliseconds after saying a patron online, since they can cross-check his or her faithfulness standing with their travel history, new travel searches and chronological cost sensitivities. Just 5 years ago this was a siren dream — conjunction a computing energy nor a targeting technology existed to support it.
… And That’s Why This War Is Imminent
This might be news to some travelers, though many vital hotel bondage don’t indeed possess a properties they market. A few decades back, they figured out that it was a lot some-more essential to be a selling association than a genuine estate company, so they shifted their concentration from financing new buildings to stuffing hotel rooms. They built executive reservations systems and spent a lot of time promotion a brands represented by their “Flags” (so named for a flags that call above a properties they market).
Ironically, that has led us to a duration where Flags and OTAs offer a really identical function: Selling hotel bedrooms for skill owners. Today, about a usually thing that sets a Flag detached from an OTA is that a former can offer we Flag-specific faithfulness advantages (i.e., endowment points), while a latter has some-more bedrooms to uncover we for a specific end (from other Flags and eccentric hotels). And now even this description is starting to warp away.
In late 2013, Orbitz launched a strong faithfulness program, charity discounts on destiny bookings. Sound familiar? Earlier this year Booking.com followed with an even some-more assertive move: they stopped pity patron emails with their hotel partners, self-denial a primary selling channel from a Flags.
On a flip side, Accor Hotels acquired FASTBOOKING in April, and in Jun this year, announced they would paint any eccentric skill on their website. And recently, Marriott dismissed a barb of their possess by rising a impertinent inhabitant video campaign patrician #itpaystobookdirect directed during removing business to book directly on Marriott.com. Fire in a hole!
World War H And The “Nuclear Option”
So how is this all going to play out? There are 3 probable scenarios:
Other Flags might follow Accor’s lead and start to contest conduct to conduct with a many apparent OTA advantage: Inventory.
OTAs might get deeper into a hotel government business. Oh wait, that’s already happening.
All of a above.
Imagine roving to New York and staying in an Expedia-branded hotel … that we requisitioned around Marriott.com. The approach things are headed, that’s a graphic possibility.
But there are dual additional players who are applicable in this skirmish: TripAdvisor and Google. TripAdvisor recently enabled approach bookings on a 375MM monthly user examination site (can anyone contend “OTA”?). And Google, not one to skip out on trillion-dollar industries, sensitively expelled a approach booking underline of a own. We’re articulate about a same association that has built some-more B2B selling relations than anyone else in history.
In a fight analogy, Google’s entrance into a marketplace might be a homogeneous of a chief arsenal. Armed with some-more web traffic, some-more data on their users from that to establish a ideal offer and an infrastructure to conduct millions of hotel clients profitably, Google is singly positioned to wage — and win — a two-front fight opposite OTAs and Flags.
So what’s a hotel marketer to do in a multi-player fight of constantly changeable sands? Understand as many as we can about your business to keep them entrance back, welcome a absolute targeting collection accessible to we pleasantness of all that data we only collected and, many importantly, remember that your patron is a singular chairman who deserves a singular conversation.
Regardless of how it plays out, a subsequent proviso of World War H (for Hotels) should be a lot of fun to watch.