OTAs Under Investigation Following Claims of Misleading Guests

Thursday 2nd November 2017

 

Hotel booking sites and Online Travel Agents (OTAs) have recently come under fire. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has claimed that the way these sites present information to consumers may in fact be making it harder for them to find the best deal. This revelation could open up new opportunities in terms of driving direct bookings, as guests are now more likely to think twice when booking a hotel through an OTA.

There have been growing concerns around the accuracy of information presented on these sites, and OTAs have even been accused of pressure selling by presenting the following information in an attempt to rush customers into making a decision:

  • How many people are looking at the same room
  • How many rooms are left
  • How long a price is available for

The problem? According to CMA, this information isn’t always accurate.

However, comparison sites are now an integral part of how guests shop. And while OTAs have hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons, in reality, the vast majority of guests are still going to use them when they search for hotels.

According to the CMA, around 70% of people who shop around for accommodation use hotel booking sites. Once they’ve visited the booking site, most users will also check out their chosen hotel’s website before they book. However, as many as 68% will then return to the OTA to complete their booking.

 

How can you encourage guests to book direct?

The whole purpose of OTAs is to help consumers find the best deal, and as this recent investigation has shown, it can all too often be a case of smoke and mirrors. Your guests need to know straight away why booking directly through your site guarantees them the best deal. And that’s where Hotel Transfer tools come in.

Hotel Transfer tools are a great way to communicate the benefits of booking direct as soon as they land on your site.These eye-catching prompts are ideal for engaging guests and instantly highlighting booking incentives such as early check-in, special rates and complimentary extras. They can even target users as they are about to leave the page, or offer a snapshot view of rates listed on OTAs so that users don’t need to return to the booking site to compare rates for themselves.

All in all, they offer greater transparency around what users will get from their booking – something which OTAs are currently facing criticism for.

It looks like this is just the start of a long investigation into OTAs and their practices. The CMA is now calling on customers and hotels to share their experiences, and have plans to share their findings next spring. So watch this space!

To find out more about our Hotel Transfer tools and other ways we can help improve your direct booking conversions, get in touch with the team here.