We all know how the hospitality industry feels about the OTAs at this point, but are they really working out well for guests? After hearing a few complaints from friends who booked through OTAs, I put together this list.
TOP 15 REASONS HOTEL GUESTS SHOULD BOOK DIRECT
- Difficulties over payment: Some guests have reported payment difficulties in dealing with an OTA. Shortly put, any guest frustration is better handled by the hotel itself, and when payments are made to a third party, the hotel’s hands are tied on fixing the problem.
- Expectations not met: Aggregation sites tend to have a fill-in-the-blank presentation, but for a particularly unique property, guests may come away with a false idea of what to expect. For instance, guests at one B&B have had consistent disappointments, thinking they had reserved a hotel with 24 hour room service.
- Hotel staff prefers direct bookers: Direct bookers are more likely to enjoy a few extras, such as room upgrades or tailored goodies in their rooms, due to the added interest taken when a relationship is established before the stay.
- Map troubles: Some hotels have found that maps and directions to their hotel are incorrect, leading to many guests wandering for hours in search of the proper location.
- Double-booking: When all bookings go through the same channel, there is little chance of a room being double-booked.
- Lower rates: Agencies are a go-between, and they make money. That money comes from a percentage of the hotel rate. Hotels are able to be much more fluid with their rates when a percentage is not taken off the top.
- Personalization of service: Going beyond staff preferences, it benefits the guest when the hotel is fully aware of who will be staying with them. Allergies, preferences, itineraries, and beyond, can make a large difference in the guest experience when the hotel can be prepared for them ahead of time.
- Creating a relationship: I’ve written before about the need to be rid of the “us-versus-them” mentality between hotels and guests. Any time a guest is able to communicate directly with hotel staff, the opportunity exists to build loyalty. While this is an obvious benefit to a hotel, most people appreciate a feeling of belonging that comes from being a loyal customer.
- Local: If you want to find the best local spots for your destination, ask locals. No OTA is going to beat a hotel in local information.
- Brand-specific loyalty programs: Taking advantage of brand-specific loyalty programs is a great way to enhance the travel experience. This is another reason brand loyalty makes a difference for the guest.
- Difficulty in cancellation or changes: I’m sure I don’t have to explain this one. However, keep in mind that hotels are interested in keeping guests happy before, during, and after a stay – and hoping a guest will return. OTAs are not so invested in experience after the sale.
- Bad phone service: Again, hotels want to keep guests happy. Guest services over the phone are a part of that.
- Paying for extras often included in the stay: I once stayed in a hotel that operated a very efficient shuttle service to all of the area entertainment, and was prominently displayed on the hotel’s website. However, I ran into a fellow guest who had paid hundreds for a car rental because the shuttle service wasn’t explained on the OTA website.
- Specific requests: OTAs cannot promise a certain room. Direct booking allows for making special requests and ensuring that the room you see is the room you get.
- Hospitality: Let industry do what it does best – hospitality. Hotel workers tend to be kind and accommodating by nature, which is what makes them good at what they do. Communicating directly with them is sure to make for a better experience all around.
Do you have any to add to this list?