We’ve all heard how much Expedia spends on marketing (nearly US$3 billion last year), but I recently heard the OTA giant cite another impressive number: it has close to 50 different versions of its website, and of those ideas being tested, only one-third work, one-third are things consumers don’t really care about and the rest outright fail. I thought of this when I read that Amazon halted its Destinations travel service.
It is extremely hard to present a compelling value proposition and get consumer’s attention. How can hoteliers compete with OTAs when the largest online retailer has been unable to penetrate this lucrative market?
Hoteliers must become more nimble and create a culture that breeds innovation. You may not be able to test 50 different sites or features, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from OTAs.
Hotel brands talk about how they need to “own the customer.” Conversely, Expedia talks about empathizing with consumers. Focus on delivering value for guests and earning their trust, not just during the stay, but also through the shopping and booking process. Don’t worry about trying to own consumers; give them a compelling reason to type in brand.com and not Google or Expedia.
Realize that’s not always going to happen. When it doesn’t, consider the OTAs a great acquisition channel and mitigate the costs by retaining customers.
Contributed by Patrick Bosworth, Duetto, San Francisco