Online booking engines for the hotel industry alternatives

This is how it works with direct bookings

The large and powerful portals continue to gain market share in total room sales. How can the hotels take countermeasures? We report on successful examples.

STUTTGART. 15, 20 or even 30 percent commission. In some places the booking portals charge a large part of the turnover as an agency fee. For top positions in the listing of Booking.com & Co., far more is due than the 15 percent that is often communicated as is customary in the industry.

Many hoteliers therefore set themselves the goal of expanding direct sales through their own channels some time ago. This is intended to reduce costs and dependencies on portals, also known as online travel agencies (OTAs). But expanding direct sales is difficult. The great intermediaries are still on the rise. According to the current sales study by the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland, Valais, the OTAs increased their share of the total booking volume in European hotels last year. The proportion of bookings made directly to the hotels has fallen slightly.

With their wide range of products, the portals are apparently still in tune with the times. “Our everyday life is characterized by fast pace,” says Roman Gojowy, managing director of the luxury hotel Suitess and the aparthotel An der Frauenkirche in Dresden. "We are used to making short-term decisions, we don't like to commit ourselves straight away, we want to compare first."

Very simple booking tools

In addition, the platforms are constantly evolving - they also invested in online marketing, as David Etmenan, CEO & Owner of Novum Hospitality, clarifies. His company is still boosting its own sales, and is based in part on the OTAs' page structure. “The usability of your own website is essential,” says Etmenan. A short booking route, comprehensible navigation and alternative payment methods are important.

Other German hotels, including numerous private and individually managed hotels, have also invested in their own sales in recent years. And thus achieved some notable successes. For example the Parkhotel Emstaler Höhe in Northern Hesse. Its owner, Stefan Frankfurth, values ​​a simple and easily understandable address to the customer: "It may sound succinct, but the clear display of the telephone number and the presentation of the advantages for direct bookers is very noticeable." This is how the hotel offers its rooms on the own website consistently at the lowest price. The Upstalsboom hotel group is pursuing a similar strategy. There you have even increased the direct booking advantage. “The guests save up to 20 euros per night,” says Carmen Rieskamp, ​​Hotel Sales Manager at Upstalsboom.

A good website is not enough. This page and the direct booking advantages there also want to be advertised so that the guest can find it at all. "We are constantly optimizing our booking engine and the findability of our own site in the search engines," reports Rieskamp. Traffic to the hotel's own websites also comes from comparison portals such as Trivago, Tripadvisor and Holidaycheck. Because a large number of customers looking for hotels are already out there. Hotels can post offers and current prices there, which appear next to the offers of the OTAs. This shows once again that competitive prices and availability on your own website are of great importance - otherwise the guests of Trivago & Co. will not click through to the hotel website.

The Hotel Emsthaler Höhe by Stefan Frankfurth shows that this is also worthwhile for private hotels. With the help of the service provider Myhotelshop.de, he has connected his booking engine to such comparison platforms. The result was an increasing number of bookings.

Personal discussions in the hotel

However, it is important to keep an eye on the costs. Meta search engines like Trivago charge a small amount for the brokerage every time a user clicks on to the hotel website, regardless of whether they make a booking there or not. In technical jargon, the model is called cost-per-click (CPC). German hotels currently pay an average of 71 cents for a click on Trivago.

Despite all the technical optimization, personal contact with the guest in the hotel should not be missing. Novum boss Etmenan points out: "Our employees encourage the guest to book directly next time in order to benefit from the benefits."