Wholesale distribution is poisoned: Could an OTA be the antidote?
— 8 experts shared their view
Though not completely unexpected (in April, the two companies openly admitted they were working together on a distribution platform), the Expedia Partner Solution/Marriott agreement created an unprecedented event in the industry. But, if it is indisputable that having all the wholesale distribution transitioning through EPS will improve Marriott properties' accuracy and consistency across third-parties, the assumption that this deal will ultimately help Marriott regain control over their rates and inventory is, at best, debatable. EPS technology does not, in fact, prevent bedbanks (or Expedia itself, for that matter) from distributing wholesale rates. So, does the deal only means that EPS is going to play detective with bedbanks on Marriott's behalf? Or the partnership between these two travel Goliath has the potential to fix a distribution model that's inherently rotten? What's your take?
Travel & Hospitality expert. Digital Marketing & Strategy Speaker and Consultant
In the past week, the news of Thomas Cook going bankrupt was like a media eclipse, and rightfully so. Yet, there was another bankrupcy that went rather unnoticed, and that is of Amoma, a company notorious for undercutting hotel's own rates, selling often from uncontracted inventory from wholesalers.
How does that relate with the Marriott International and Expedia Partner Solutions agreement? Well, one would guess that Marriott has had it with policing the internet and trying to find all the cases of rate disparity existing out there within its vast portfolio of hotels and contracted (and uncontracted) rates.
By going to bed - pun intended - with EPS, Marriott is chosing a key partner as gatekeeper in the hopes that the benefits will exceed the costs and potential risks of being associated with a sole partner. It's potentially a sound move. But it will be interesting to see how Booking and Ctrip will respond and adapt...
To be clear: I don't think an OTA is the antidote. It's a quick fix, a short-term solution, to a problem that requires a long-term plan and resources that many hoteliers - including Marriott - perhaps don't want to address head-on at this stage.