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Hotel Bookings Have Tipped Again Toward Online Travel Agencies In The Recovery Era

As the world slowly recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospitality industry is seeing a resurgence in hotel bookings.

Blog / General / 2023 April 12, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the hospitality industry worldwide. Many hotels were forced to shut down, and others experienced a sharp decline in bookings. However, as vaccination rates continue to increase and travel restrictions are lifted, the industry is starting to recover. Hotel bookings are on the rise, and online travel agencies (OTAs) are once again dominating the market.

According to recent data from the hospitality research firm Kalibri Labs, OTAs accounted for 54% of all hotel bookings in the first quarter of 2021. This marks a significant increase from the 47% recorded in the same period last year. Meanwhile, direct bookings through hotel websites only accounted for 29% of all bookings, down from 33% last year. The remaining 17% of bookings came from other sources, such as corporate travel agencies and wholesalers.

The shift towards OTAs can be attributed to several factors. First and foremost, travellers are increasingly relying on digital platforms to plan and book their trips. OTAs offer a convenient one-stop shop where customers can browse and compare hotel options, read reviews, and make reservations all in one place. This has become particularly important in the age of COVID-19, where travellers are more concerned than ever about health and safety protocols.

Another factor driving the shift towards OTAs is the aggressive marketing campaigns being run by companies like Expedia, Booking.com, and Airbnb. These companies have invested heavily in advertising and promotion, using targeted ads and special deals to attract customers. This has helped to create a sense of brand loyalty among customers who may have previously booked directly with hotels.

Finally, OTAs are increasingly offering a wider range of services beyond just hotel bookings. Many platforms now offer flight bookings, rental cars, and activities, making them a one-stop shop for all travel needs. This has made them even more attractive to customers looking for convenience and ease of use.

While the shift towards OTAs may be concerning for some hotel owners, it is not all bad news. For one thing, OTAs can help hotels reach a wider audience and attract new customers who may not have found them otherwise. Additionally, hotels can use OTAs as a way to fill empty rooms during slow periods without having to significantly lower their rates.

However, it is important for hotels to strike a balance between using OTAs and promoting direct bookings through their own websites. Direct bookings allow hotels to avoid paying commission fees to OTAs, which can be as high as 30%. Additionally, direct bookings give hotels more control over the booking process, allowing them to offer customized packages and incentives to customers.

Overall, the rise of OTAs in the recovery era of the hospitality industry is a sign of the changing times. Travellers are increasingly turning to digital platforms to plan and book their trips, and hotels must adapt to keep up. By leveraging the benefits of OTAs while also promoting direct bookings, hotels can attract a wider range of customers and maximize their revenue potential.



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