But there is something that hotel guests are probably not aware of: according to an article in the UK newspaper The Telegraph, OTAs are using information gleaned from a person’s computer to charge them more for a room.
According to the article, “web cookies allow (OTAs) to ‘remember’ people’s computers, the preferences they have selected, and how many times they have visited a page. Sites are then able to bump up prices for people who have repeatedly visited them or viewed a particular holiday multiple times.” The article described how such “personalized” pricing structures have led to rates being subjective and different for the same room and for the same dates.
If true, travelers may believe OTAs are using their own personal data against them to actively drive up prices, and they’re more likely to see the benefits of booking directly with a hotel. This provides hotels with a clear opportunity to position themselves as the transparent option when it comes to rates, especially when a guest calls the hotel directly.
The ability for a guest to book directly with a hotel call center agent provides a greater degree of accountability and openness, giving customers far greater assurance that the rates they’re being quoted are fair and honest.
Hotels’ should make this booking option clear on their own websites, by prominently posting contact numbers on every page. Having a well-trained and well-staffed reservations team in place around the clock can pay significant dividends – and voice is the second-most profitable revenue channel.
Ultimately, by promoting a more personal approach to the booking process, hotels can capitalize on the understandable mistrust that OTAs may begin to encounter from wary travelers. As the public begins to understand how their own data is potentially being used against them, increasing numbers may come to regard calling the hotel directly as a safer, more reliable way of making a reservation.
About the author
John Smallwood is the CEO of Travel Outlook Premium Reservations Call Center. Travel Outlook is a custom off-site central reservations office (CRO) service that serves as either a primary or overflow reservations department for four and five star independent hotels. John created the Travel Outlook concept in 2006, after more than twenty years’ experience in owning hotels and hospitality management. Smallwood earned a BBA from New Mexico State University and before starting in the hospitality industry, he worked with AT&T.