In the recent years, the travel and hospitality industry has seen many technology innovations.
Earlier people used to plan their trips with the travel agents. The agents used to log into their computers, offer the best packages that included travel expenses, hotel booking etc. But since the invent of the internet and mobile devices the travel industry has gone through a lot of changes.
In the mid 90’s the Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) like Expedia and Priceline.com came into existence upon seeing the vast opportunity in the emerging travel eCommerce industry.
They built a dedicated website to provide travelers what they needed. They prided information regarding trip fares, reviews along with a facility to book airlines and hotels online.
Thus giving the easy access to enormous information which helped them compare, review and book hotel rooms or flight tickets online.
According to Wikipedia’s definition :
A metasearch engine (or aggregator) is a search tool that uses another search engine’s data to produce their own results from the Internet. Metasearch engines take input from a user and simultaneously send out queries to third party search engines for results. Sufficient data is gathered, formatted by their ranks and presented to the users.
In simple language, it means that a metasearch produces well organized results for the query entered by the user from different search engines. This was done because on different results were produced in different search engines. So through a metasearch engine, a user could see different results on one result page.
Using this as an opportunity Kayak came into existence in 2004,as a fare aggregator and travel metasearch engine. It searches other travel sites and displays all the offer in one list so travelers can compare, filter and book through the site they find better or cheaper.
TripAdvisor (Founded in 2000) which is the most famous for its travel and hotel reviews, showed the hotel prices from the different booking site. But now (Nov, 2016) it has got its own booking service for users as well.
(Refer to this article to read more : http://bit.ly/2fBBOmY )
The hotels have been trying their best to survive in this online battle to get their share of Return Of Interest (ROI).
Though there are options like online travel agencies and Metasearch engines which bring them customers, but they have to pay hefty commissions approx 20-25% per booking.
Due to such high commissions, the hoteliers don’t have enough income to maintain and upgrade their hotels.
So to gain more control over direct booking, many hotels came up with their own hotel websites.
But still, there isn’t much success because the online travel agencies have invested greatly for their online presence on search engines which provide their links when a user searches for hotels or airlines.
Nowadays the travelers have become smarter! They are using all the sources available to them online to make their own travel plans and choose the options which help them complete the process quickly.
It’s the good user interface and the simple booking process. If a user doesn’t get an easy way to book he will immediately go for other options.Therefore the online travel agencies which provides him with all the required information clearly and a seamless booking process.
In 2015, revenue from tourism accounted for 264 billion euros in Europe and is expected to reach 282 billion euros in 2017. A large part of the growth of the tourism market is increasingly down to digital technology and, in particular, online booking tools.
Sales from these are indeed growing faster than in the overall travel market; in 2015, online tourism increased by 14% compared with 5% for the overall market. According to research by the PhoCusWright agency, the penetration rate has reached almost 60% in the US and 40% in Europe. (Source : http://bit.ly/2fBKie7)
Online travel agencies and Meta searches should be used as the alternative revenue stream and Hoteliers must have their own sites and a reliable Hotel reservation System.
By building a hotel website, hoteliers can focus on making a fast and easy booking experience for customers. If a customer isn’t happy with the performance of the hotel website then he’ll switch to the online travel agencies which provides him with easy access to information and hassle free booking option.
Technology will keep evolving and new trends come into motion with it.
So hoteliers need to use all the resources available but also concentrate on making their own individual identities online and tackle the complete dependency over OTAs or Meta-search engines.