Tired of Talking About Direct Bookings? Me Too
By David Chu
Friday, 24th May 2024

We’ve been talking about 'shifting share' away from the OTAs for something like 15 years now and it’s more than a little disheartening to think that we’ll still be talking about this for another 15 years.

It’s not just the loss of revenue that is concerning. It’s the loss of that direct relationship with the customer. That’s why this conversation is so important to keep having.

But I think we need to make a choice as an industry. Are we going to continue down the road of OTA dependency, or are we going to draw a line in the sand and go all in on direct? We know it’s the right thing to do for our business, so what’s stopping us?

Well, education for one thing. As much as we talk about investing in direct, owners still have trouble understanding the nuance of investing in marketing technology now as a long-term strategy versus the no up-front cost model of the OTAs.

It makes sense. It really does. The no upfront cost model is seductive. Not to mention, it’s easy to understand. You don’t pay anything unless you get a booking. What’s not to like about that? It’s safe. So much so, it seems, owners are far more willing to sign off on new sales and marketing initiatives if they don’t have to come out of pocket up front, even if the upfront investment is cheaper in the long run.

That’s true for direct bookings. It’s true for group lead generation.

Owners don’t always see the vision that can seem so obvious to hospitality marketers like you and me; how this sort of investment can strengthen your brand, build a lasting relationship with customers, and grow loyalty. Not to mention reduce cost!

Imagine if you could re-invest just a fraction of what you spend on the OTAs. How would that impact your business? That’s why this conversation is so important to keep having.

It comes down to us. It’s our job, if nothing else, to always be educating. The fight has clearly not been won. And it can only be won through ongoing education, collaboration, and a shared vision.

We can only get there if we all agree we want to get there. Otherwise, it’s just talk.

David Chu
SVP Branding, Marketing, Distribution, Revenue, & eCommerce, GAM Hospitality LLC

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