Why Hotel Guests Should Resist the OTAs


Why Hotel Guests Should Book Direct

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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Double-booking: When all bookings go through the same channel, there is little chance of a room being double-booked.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Bad phone service: Again, hotels want to keep guests happy. Guest services over the phone are a part of that.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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?