Uber became the latest player to enter the OTA space in its pursuit of the "seamless journey" with plans, which they just announced, to add flights, trains and hotels to its app, for the time being in the United Kingdom. This latest attempt to create a travel "superapp", a full-blown OTA mobile app, comes in addition to similar incursions into OTA territory by Airbnb and Hopper, both of which have already added local experiences and contracted with channel managers like SiteMinder, RateGain and RateTiger to enable them to offer hotel bookings. Some hoteliers think that these new OTA-like superapps are good for the industry since they break the duopoly of Expedia and Booking.com. Others are skeptical and believe these moves will further erode the direct online channel.

The question is, is the new crop of OTA-like superapps a threat or an opportunity for hoteliers?

Peter O’Connor
Peter O’Connor
Professor of Strategy at University of South Australia Business School

Success in the platform spaces is highly dependent on scale, particularly on offering an extensive and relevant selection of products for sale. Few of the companies entering the travel space are likely to invest the time, money and other resources necessary to build direct relationships with suppliers (at least initially) and thus will need to source supply from existing players on some sort of white-label, revenue sharing, basis. And who has the most comprehensive supply? The major OTAs by a long shot!

Thus while these developments might increase the perception of choice on the demand side, if they are to scale beyond the experimental stage in specific markets, they will reinforce, not challenge, the power of the OTAs who will undoubtedly act as the back end powering such initiatives. 

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