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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Online Behavior Commentary: Let's look at consumer direct for hotels

Two days ago I wrote a blog about the decline in traffic for the OTAs. It is only fair to similarly characterize the traffic results hotel brands and online players wholly devoted to the sale of hotel rooms.

The following chart from Compete reflects the 12 month results for traffic to Marriott.com, Hilton.com and Hotels.com. The supplier and OTA patterns look similar, with hotels.com seeing a much steeper decline from their high of nearly 8m unique visitors in July to just under 5m in October. Sorry for the quality of the graphic. To view it for yourself, access the free traffic comparison service on Compete.



The most important stat to note is that hotels.com is seeing a 12.4% decline year over year as of the end of October and both hotel brand sites are seeing double digit increases. All three sites saw month over month decreases for October.

PhoCusWright reported in their last Online Travel Overview (seventh edition) that supplier bookings have been growing at a much faster pace than OTA bookings. Since traffic is a harbinger of booking activity, the Compete traffic reports above certainly corroborate PCW's observations.

For a supplier to move business from an OTA to their own site is a smart move, as it saves commissions and switching/GDS fees. Let's just make sure that you aren't throwing the baby out with the bathwater and also discounting agency distribution. See the story below about the growth of the agency channel and the higher yields possible through agency distribution, even in light of paying commissions AND switching/GDS fees.

Chicke Fitzgerald
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