World Panel
Viewpoint 6 July 2020

Is Expedia's recovery program a genuine help for Hoteliers?

Digital Marketing in Hospitality

— 10 experts shared their view

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This viewpoint was created by
Fabian Bartnick, Founder at Infinito
Max Starkov
Adjunct Professor NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality and Hospitality & Online Travel Tech Consultant

In my view, this new Expedia program is designed as a very clever additional entanglement of hoteliers to Expedia. It is just an additional length of rope that ties hotels closer to Expedia and increases their dependency on this OTA.

Will hoteliers buy into Expedia's program? The fear of missing out will undoubtedly force many hoteliers to join the program. Exploiting the fear of missing out has been the modus operandi of the OTAs since the aftermath of 9/11 and exactly the same thing is happening right now with this program.

Marketing credits to the tune of 25% of the commission earned from your property in 2019? Where are these credits meant to be spent? On Expedia, of course, on Expedia Travel Ads and banner advertising, resulting in Expedia bookings for the property. Reduce the commission by 10% for 3 months? So instead of 25%, Expedia will now charge an independent hotel only 22.5%? How does this help the hotel?

If you provide Expedia with your lowest retail rates, packages, and member-only rates, more travelers will flock to book on this OTA vs the hotel's own direct channel. This means Expedia will generate more commission overall, not less commission, and will increase the property's dependence on the OTA channel.

With programs like these, the deep-pocketed OTAs will become, undoubtedly, one of the very few winners from the COVID-19 crisis.

With similar tactics, the OTAs emerged stronger after all of the previous crisis and calamities: 9/11, SARS, MERS, the recession, ZIKA, H1N1. Now there is an additional twist: Because of the shelter-at-home mandates around the world, the vast majority of the population - even reluctant and late adopters - were forced to use online services to communicate and work or study remotely, search for news or information, purchase goods, and services, order food, communicate with friends and family, watch streaming services and entertain themselves. This “online planning and purchasing education” has created millions of converts and believers in online travel planning and booking, which will benefit the OTAs immensely. 

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