Online travel agencies, companies like Expedia and Priceline, increased their market share of hotel bookings in 2013.
OTA bookings increased 13.6% in Q3 2013 compared to Q3 2012.
Hotel brand website bookings increased 5.3% in Q3 2013.
I understand the value of an OTA when booking a non-brand hotel, but I do not understand why people pay more to book a brand hotel through an OTA. Brand websites like Marriott.com, Hyatt.com and StarwoodHotels.com offer the lowest rates or else you can invoke a Best Rate Guarantee claim and reduce the rate significantly from the OTA price when it is lower.
The OTA channel had the highest ADR growth at 8.0% for Q3 2013. Research data shows OTA sites make most of their profit from hotel bookings. The lowest ADR increase among booking channels at 2.5% was through hotel brand websites. Rate increases were higher for hotels booked through GDS (travel agents) at 2.5% and phone reservations at 3.8%. This seems to indicate the low ADR increase at hotel brand websites is due to lower rates at hotel brand websites even compared to phone reservations made through hotel brand channels.
Perhaps it is due to travelers booking their airfare through OTA sites that the OTA is also used for hotel bookings. I use OTAs to quickly compare rates across different hotel brands and look for the best deals in a city I plan to stay. But when it comes to booking my hotel, it seems to me a no brainer to book the hotel through the hotel brand website, receive loyalty points and benefits and save money compared to an OTA booking.
Unless you are booking an independent hotel or day of arrival at a brand hotel, the Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) claim can be your best route to hotel rate savings in cases where the rate on the OTA is actually lower. Most hotel brand BRG policies do not allow day of arrival claims.
Almost always the rate will be the same or there will be a lower rate available with the hotel brand website if booking a hotel in a hotel name brand like Holiday Inn, Sheraton, Marriott or Hilton. OTA sites use the Standard rate whereas hotel brand sites usually offer AAA, senior and corporate room rate discounts that often offer a lower rate than the OTA rate.
Data Source: TravelClick December 3, 2013.