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06 July 2016 | Hoteles

Gaining independence from OTAs

Amparo Gómez-Angulo, Senior Consultant, talks about her attendance to the 'Hospitality Digital Lab' organised by Fastbooking.

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On Wednesday the 29th June, on behalf of Christie & Co we attended the ‘Hospitality Digital Lab’, an event organised by the French company ‘Fastbooking’ in the renowned Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid. The event was mainly aimed at independent hoteliers and the objective was to show different tools they can use to increase their autonomy with regard to OTAs. 

Following the company presentation, there was a review of the current Spanish market, both regarding hotel profitability and recent trends and challenges that we are faced with.

We were presented the growth figures in the main European cities, amongst which Madrid and Barcelona stand out for their good results compared to the same period in the previous year. Up until May, the RevPAR growth in the capital was 13% and in Barcelona 11%. These good results in Spain are mainly driven by the recovery of hotel prices (+8.5%), but also by occupancy (+6.0%) thanks to the growing demand (+6.5%), which is great news for Spanish destinations that suffered during the economic crisis with overall prices below those of competing destinations *.

Regarding the market trends, emphasis was placed on new tourists to whom the current and future hotel offer should be focused, the Millennials’ generation, the Asian market and ‘Halal tourism’. Similarly, there are different factors that are largely affecting and will affect the tourist market, (the petrol prices and terrorism) as well as the hotel market (the capability to adapt current establishments, innovation or technology). Also, as expected it was mentioned the possible effect of Brexit on tourism in Spain, but it is too soon to predict to what extent the market will be affected in the coming months and years.  

Following the global vision of the Spanish market, its perspectives and main challenges, interesting data related to the consumer’s behaviour when making a hotel reservation online was presented, as well as multiple proposals to gain freedom from OTAs.

A remarkable figure: 62% of people staying in a hotel visit the hotel’s own website, 76% of which do not make a reservation, which indicates the hotels’ obvious opportunity to appeal to the consumer and promote reservations through their own website. How? Ensuring the best prices are on their website; using geo location; creating a login to access offers (in the same style as Genius on; generating offers that the OTAs cannot include or using persuasive sale web widgets. Another interesting fact to take into consideration from the consumer’s perspective: 76% of those looking for a hotel think that the best price is offered by OTAs when in reality only 24% of the cases are like this!

Online positioning is another key to consider for having success when encouraging direct reservations. Once the customer is on the website, it is vital that the user experience is the best possible, both at a technological level and in terms of content. This is why it is important that hotel owners know well their hotel, knowing what they offer and maximising its value. Not only knowing their hotel is beneficial, but also being aware of what competitors offer is crucial to differentiate from them and to promote its strong points.  

Finally, online reputation is also a central issue. It is not surprising that in the process of choosing a hotel, reviews of previous customers and their recommendations have a strong influence. This is why the hoteliers must nurture and improve their reputation on different websites, (most of all their own site) and try to get as much information as possible about their clients through surveys and encouraging comments on their own website. Finally, there are many benefits of using revenue management tools in order to improve hotel profitability by increasing their income, applying flexible rates according to existing demand.

Overall, it was without a doubt a very enriching day, not only for the independent hoteliers but also for all the sector members. The role of technology is undisputed in our daily lives, and consequently it plays an important part in the hotel and tourism sector. It is important to understand those new tools, and instead of rejecting them by thinking that they are created only for big hotel groups and chains, use them to our advantage in the best capacity for each one.

*data collected during the STR Global presentation
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