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Tim Peter

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August 1, 2017

8 Insights into OTA’s, Personalization and Your Overall Digital Strategy: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

August 1, 2017 | By | No Comments

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8 insights into OTA's, personalization and your overall digital strategy: Man reading the latest OTA and hospitality digital strategy insightsHey, Big Thinkers! Hope you’re having a fantastic day. Don’t miss these 8 insights into OTA’s, personalization and your overall digital strategy as you gear up for the rest of the week, OK? Enjoy:

  1. There’s been a lot of discussion the last couple of weeks around the current OTA vs. hotel brand dust-ups. First, Hotel Marketing published a pair of pieces that claim “New Research Shows OTA Consolidation Harms Consumers” and “OTA Bookings Linked to Lower Guest Satisfaction.”
  2. Tnooz followed that up with “OTA Or Hotel Direct – Putting The OTAs View.” (Full disclosure: That Tnooz headlines continues to bug me. I thought about rewriting it a few times, but it’s general incoherence mirrors the incoherence of the OTA’s argument on this so it felt appropriate to leave it as is.)
  3. Speaking of the incoherence of the OTA’s argument, I took a long look at OTA claims in detail in this post, “OTA’s vs. Brands: OTA’s Say Hotel Companies Are Just As Bad for Consumers as… OTA’s?” This kind of griping and sniping between OTA’s and brands is nothing new—see OTA’s vs. Chain Brands: Expedia Comes Out Swinging and Expedia’s Accelerator Program: A Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing for just two examples—and aren’t likely to end anytime soon. But I still argue in favor of a “fair and balanced approach” to managing your OTA relationships—and expect I’ll continue to do that until someone gives me a good reason to switch. The only thing I would argue is that you should approach OTA’s the way male black widow spiders approach their potential mates: carefully.
  4. All that said, there’s a lot you can learn from OTA’s, as BookAssist points out in “Learning from the Giants: How Booking and Expedia Build Their Traffic Online.”
  5. Shifting gears a bit, eConsultancy has a fantastic piece that explains “How Six Travel & Hospitality Brands Use Personalization to Enhance the Customer Experience.”
  6. Personalization for hotels remains near and dear to my heart, as you can read all about in “6 Stellar Insights into Personalization for Hotel Marketing” from the Hospitality Marketing Link Digest series and in
    “Why Hotel Marketing Depends on Personalization.”
  7. With all the changes hotel marketers have to cope with every day, it’s fair to ask “Hospitality Digital Marketing and Distribution: Is it Time to Give Up?” As you might expect, I’d argue “no.” Be sure to read the whole article though to see why.
  8. And, finally, since you’re not likely to give up (and good for you!), check out these 7 Must-See Posts Highlighting How to Market Your Hotel in the Future also from the Hospitality Marketing Link Digest series as a way to round out your knowledge of OTA’s, personalization and your overall digital strategy. You’ll be glad you did.

If you’re looking for even more hospitality marketing goodness, you might also want to take a moment to review the slides from Tim’s recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions 2016: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, including:

Tim Peter

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July 20, 2017

OTA’s vs. Brands: OTA’s Say Hotel Companies Are Just As Bad for Consumers as… OTA’s?

July 20, 2017 | By | No Comments

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OTA's vs. Brands: Booking.com and Expedia So the battle of OTA’s vs. brands just keeps getting weirder. The Travel Trade Association (TTA), which represents Expedia, Priceline, and TripAdvisor (as well as Sabre, Amadeus, Travelport and others[1]) responded to the recent AHLA report claiming OTA’s harm consumers by suggesting—and, honest to God, I’m not making this up—that hotel companies are just as bad as they are.

The AHLA report claims that Expedia and Priceline control about 95% of “the online travel market” and that these travel search giants mislead consumers about pricing, availability and a host of other relevant information. The biggest problem from AHLA’s point of view is that most guests don’t realize how much consolidation has limited the actual number of options available to guests when booking hotels online. The TTA’s Stephen Shur acknowledges the point when he tells Tnooz,

“The Federal Trade Commission in a hearing last year testified to Congress that they have no records of consumer complaints on these issues. We checked with the major consumer groups here in the United States, such as Consumers Union, National Consumers League and others, and these issues don’t even fall on their radar. The only place you’re hearing about hotel booking scams is from the hotel lobby.”

Tough to complain about something you don’t know exists, though, amirite? (Also, Is it just me or do you love the “hotel lobby” double entendre there? Just me? OK. Moving on…)

Odder still was Shur’s choice to highlight the number of brands held by six major hotel chains in the US (Choice, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, and Wyndham) noting that they own 10 or more brands each, with Marriott carrying a whopping 31 brands in its portfolio. Except, here’s the thing. They’re comparing apples to orangutans. Brands does not equal market share.

So, yes, those 6 chains do each own a whole bunch of brands. But their collective share of global room inventory is less than 30%. Even with consolidation, Marriott’s marriage to Starwood granted the combined hotel powerhouse only 8.3% of global room supply. Big, sure. But not outrageously so. And if you add in major players like Accor, Best Western, and Carlson Rezidor to the Big 6 named by Shur, total combined share of rooms climbs all the way up to… 34.8%. Again, that’s hardly an anticompetitive distribution when spread across nine separate companies. This data shows the full story:

ChainRoom CountRoom ShareProperty CountProperty ShareOwned Properties% of Properties Owned
Marriott1,200,0008.3%6,1613.9%220.36%
Hilton812,0005.6%5,4003.5%1412.61%
IHG767,0005.3%5,0283.2%80.16%
Wyndham697,6074.8%7,9235.1%20.03%
Choice516,1223.6%6,5144.2%00.00%
Hyatt171,0001.2%6570.4%436.54%
STR Hotel Industry Totals14,500,000100.0%156,000100%N/AN/A
Source: All data retrieved from their respective company’s 2016 annual report or, when not available, from publicly-stated information. STR data retrieved from STR Hotel Census Database. All data as of July 19, 2017.

Now let’s not forget that the two major OTAs also sell pretty much all of these companies’ inventory, as well as a hefty chunk of the remaining 65% too. So I don’t think they’re making the argument they claim to be when criticizing the hotel companies.

The OTA’s make a much stronger argument by the way when they cite Phocuswright data showing they outsell hotel brands by only a few billion dollars, controlling 54% of the market compared to suppliers’ 46%. Except if two companies really do control 95% of that 54% (or, more simply, 51% of the total), as AHLA claims, that’s a big frickin’ deal. Here’s why.

The vast majority of the hotels within each of these chains are franchised. They don’t have to stick with the chain if they don’t want to.[2] If you’re a hotel owner carrying a flag from one of those 6 large hotel chains and aren’t happy with the value you receive from said chain, you have a ton of options available to you. You could dump your current flag and instead:

  1. Switch to your original chains’ soft brand(s)
  2. Go to one of the other 5 chains the TTA calls out, either carrying one of their flags or using one of their soft brands
  3. Go to another chain outside that original set of six (Accor, BW, Carlson Rezidor, Magnuson, etc.)
  4. Go to one of their soft brands, or, finally,
  5. Skip the whole thing and fly independent (potentially affiliating with still other soft brands like The Leading Hotels of the World, Preferred, Small Luxury, etc.—or not—as you see fit)

I don’t know about you, but that feels like a pretty good set of options for today’s hotelier.

On the other hand, if you’re unhappy with Expedia, you could sell your inventory on Travelocity instead. Oh… wait. Expedia owns them. OK, how about Orbitz? Nope, Expedia owns them too. Hotels.com? Also Expedia. And so on. The landscape on the Priceline side isn’t any better, with Booking.com, Agoda, Kayak, Momondo, and the company’s flagship Priceline brand among its guest-facing presence. And these two represent probably 51% of all reservations made online if AHLA’s numbers are right.

Hmm… remind me again who’s better positioned to harm consumers and hotel operators?

Does any of this automatically prove that the OTA’s are evil? Of course not. As I’ve argued repeatedly, OTA’s can represent a reasonable option for reaching guests you’re not able to reach on your own.

What it does prove is that the OTA’s aren’t so great at making an argument about who’s the big bad wolf here. Just like your mom probably told you as a kid, the OTA’s may find that when they’re pointing a finger at the evils of industry consolidation, the rest of their fingers end up pointing right back at themselves.


  1. I’d be curious to know how Sabre and Amadeus feel about this approach, given the amount of effort they’re putting into wooing major hotel chains as clients for their CRS products. ^Back to article
  2. To be fair, this ignores the challenge of getting out of any existing franchise agreement, which can be onerous. ^Back to article

If you’re looking for even more hospitality marketing goodness, you might also want to take a moment to review the slides from Tim’s recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, including:

Tim Peter

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July 16, 2017

A Dozen Hospitality Digital Marketing, Revenue Management and Distribution Insights: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

July 16, 2017 | By | No Comments

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A dozen hospitality digital marketing, revenue management and distribution insights: Guests entering hotelHey, everyone! Hope you’ve enjoyed an amazing summer weekend. Now let’s start the week off right with these dozen hospitality digital marketing, revenue management and distribution insights. Enjoy:

  1. Leading off, Ellis Kennedy from Rainmaker breaks down “The Convergence of Hotel Marketing and Revenue Management.” This represents one of the most critical trends within hospitality marketing and it’s great to see others beating this drum.
  2. The convergence of hotel marketing and revenue management of course is just one huge trend. This collection of “7 Must-See Posts Highlighting How to Market Your Hotel in the Future” from the Hospitality Marketing Link Digest series helps outline others you’ll want to watch.
  3. Brand Quarterly “How Hospitality And Travel Brands Can Top Review Charts,” which you know we’re in favor of, seeing as how managing your ratings and reviews well represents “The Single Most Effective Way to Improve Your Brand’s Digital Marketing.”
  4. While you’re looking for effective ways to improve your brand’s marketing, don’t miss these “6 Quick Hotel Distribution and Digital Marketing Insights” too.
  5. On a related note, Econsultancy looked at “How Six Travel &Amp; Hospitality Brands Use Personalization to Enhance the Customer Experience.”
  6. In fact, we’ve outlined “Why Hotel Marketing Depends on Personalization” and rounded-up “6 Stellar Insights into Personalization for Hotel Marketing” for you as well to add to that story.
  7. Digging into the archives a bit, we’ve got a post that calls out “OTA’s vs. Chain Brands: Expedia Comes Out Swinging”—and why it’s still relevant today.
  8. Taking a peek into the corner office, Skift reports on why “Hotel CEOs Love Direct Booking and 4 Other Hospitality Trends” that you won’t want to miss.
  9. Meanwhile, according to CIO Dive, TravelClick CIO’s Joseph Eng says that “Changing User Experience Requires Companies to Go Digital and Employ Data.” Good advice.
  10. Coming somewhat full circle this week, Kiran Sunny writes over on Hospitality Net about “Distribution vs Profitability—The Future of Hotel Revenue Management.”
  11. Alicia Hoisington has an excellent piece on Hotel Management featuring “3 Tips to Increase ROI with Digital Marketing” that includes a number of quotes from our own Tim Peter. Well worth a look when you have a moment.
  12. Finally, let’s wrap-up this list of a dozen hospitality digital marketing, revenue management and distribution insights with this collection of “9 Necessary Hotel Marketing Posts You Can’t Miss.”

If you’re looking for even more hospitality marketing goodness, you might also want to take a moment to review the slides from Tim’s recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, including:

Tim Peter

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June 19, 2017

6 Stellar Insights into Personalization for Hotel Marketing: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

June 19, 2017 | By | No Comments

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6 Stellar Insights into Personalization for Hotel Marketing: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

Hey, everyone! Hope you had a wonderful weekend and are looking forward to an amazing week ahead. To get thing started on the right foot, we’ve put together a quick round-up of 6 stellar insights into personalization for hotel marketing for your reading and learning pleasure. Enjoy:

  1. Our first post this week breaks down “Why Hotel Marketing Depends on Personalization” and is well worth your time.
  2. Continuing with the hotel personalization theme, Duetto asks, “How Personalized is Your Hotel’s Digital Marketing Strategy?”
  3. GuestRevu put together an amazing trend digest that looked at “Guest Personalization in the Hotel Industry” that you’ll want to check out.
  4. Another great post here on Thinks talks about why “Personalization Starts With a Person.”
  5. Since this is a topic near and dear to my heart here at Thinks, we’ve also got this fantastic presentation for you, all about Using Data to Put Personalization to Work for Your Property called
    “Data—The Crown Jewels: Maximizing Data to Put Personalization to Work for Your Property.” Be sure to take a look and let me know what you think:

  6. Finally, we can’t talk about data without thinking about how to protect that data for our guests. Which is what makes “How Travel Brands Can Use and Safeguard Customer Data” from Adobe such an essential read.

If you’re looking for even more hospitality marketing goodness, you might also want to take a moment to review the slides from Tim’s recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions 2016: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, including:

Tim Peter

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June 4, 2017

7 Can’t Miss Hospitality Marketing Insights: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

June 4, 2017 | By | No Comments

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7 can't miss hospitality marketing insights

Hey, everyone! Hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend. What do you say we close it out with these 7 can’t miss hospitality marketing insights. Enjoy:

  1. Tony Loeb writing at The Blog of Experience Hotel asks “Is Guest Experience the Future of Hotel Marketing?” The answer, as you might imagine, is “yes.” But you should read the whole post for Tony’s great insights. It makes a great companion piece to this recent episode of Thinks Out Loud, our e-commerce and digital strategy podcast that explained why “Content is King, Customer Experience is Queen.”
  2. Tnooz explores the “What, When and Why of Downloading an App for Travel.”
  3. Net Affinity looks at “Attribution Models: The Secret Ways Guests Discover Your Hotel.”
  4. Skift has a great episode of their Backstage Podcast that’s all about “Travel Search, Bargain Hunting and the Future of Booking” that’s worth a listen.
  5. Koddi says that “Google is Testing A New Mobile Experience for Hotel Ads” that you’ll definitely want to know about.
  6. With all the changes going on in digital for hospitality marketers, it’s reasonable to ask, when it comes to “Hospitality Digital Marketing and Distribution: Is it Time to Give Up?” I’d argue “no.” But be sure to read the whole post to see why.
  7. Finally, you won’t want to miss these “7 Sensational Posts for Hospitality Marketers” and this set of “5 Must-See Hospitality Marketing Hot Topics” from the Hospitality Marketing Link Digest series.

If you’re looking for even more hospitality marketing goodness, you might also want to take a moment to review the slides from Tim’s recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions 2016: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, including: