Academic Year 2011/2012                                                                                                   ...
    2	  
HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT CENTER - PARIS                       - Submitted on November, 15 2012 -       How Independent Hotel...
- ACKNOWLEDGMENT –       This thesis has been realized within the framework of my MBA in Hospitalityand Luxury Brands Mana...
- TABLE OF CONTENTS -- ACKNOWLEDGMENT –	                                                               4	  - TABLE OF ILLU...
1- ONLINE EXPOSURE COMPARISON OF HOTELS AND OTAS ON GOOGLE SEARCH	                                      60	  2- ONLINE EXP...
1- THE OBJECTIVES OF THIS INNOVATION CONCEPT	                             126	  2- A VISUAL EXPLANATION OF THE STRATEGY	  ...
- TABLE OF ILLUSTRATIONS -- Page 24: Room Key’s Search System (July 2012)- Page 24: Expedia’s Search System (July 2012)- P...
- Page 87: Keywords Analysis on C* House’s Google+ Business Page- Page 88: Keywords Analysis of C* House on Picasa- Page 9...
- LIST OF CHARTS -- Page 21: 2011 – Percentage of Reservation on OTAs and Hotels’ Websites for Branded andNon-Branded Hote...
- TITLES -                                         - Thesis Title -     How Independent Hoteliers can Increase Direct Book...
- THEORETICAL AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK -1- Definition of Terms“G”: on some graphs means “Google” “#-pack”: means “the numb...
TravelZoo is known as the largest publisher of travel deals on the Internet, and isappreciated by hotels because it works ...
through the update and optimization of hotels’ online presence, which will influencetheir visibility on search engines.   ...
- METHODOLOGY-     The thesis was conducted in parallel of web marketing missions realized forindependent hotels and apart...
Still about the qualitative technics, the thesis was made through a regular followup of the new tools and platforms launch...
-­‐	  ABSTRACT	  -­‐	        This thesis consists of real researches and analyses, made for the independenthotels and apar...
- GENERAL INTRODUCTION –     Generating revenue has become a real challenge for independent hoteliers, sinceOTAs’ online v...
This thesis would not have been conceivable without Oneglobe Networks’clients that trusted us for solving their problems r...
- CHAPTER 1 –	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	         The Latest Trends                in       Online Distribution	             ...
I- Partnership between hotels and OTAs: the repercussions                              for hoteliersNote - OTAs: “Online T...
2011 – Percentage of Reservation on OTAs and Hotels’ Websites for Branded and                                    Non-Brand...
Given the heavy competition on the OTAs market, in recent years lowcommissions OTAs (also known as “hotel-friendly” OTAs) ...
Room Key’s Search System (July 2012)                                                               By Emilie Alba, Room Ke...
Expedia search system looks more overcharged than Room Key, in part due to theflight, car and cruise choice options. Howev...
The screenshot above highlights a simpler search system than Expedia, and anattractive design for web users. It also inspi...
By Emilie Alba, Global Hotel Exchange’s Search System and Home Page, Screenshot, July 2012,                               ...
Session at HITEC 2012 (High Impact Technology Exchange Conference), “OTAsthink they still provide a strong value propositi...
Internet Users Trends Surveys        Online Travel Industry, Internet Users Trends Survey, Statistics, National Chiao Tung...
2- September 9, 2001 terrorist attacks       Soon after the Internet booming, the terrorist attacks of September 9, 2001 i...
OTAs clearly took advantage of this demand growth because (except for onlinemarketing & selling that represented 1/3 of th...
Genre Hotels’ New Booking Engine Announcement on Facebook       By Emilie Alba, Genre Hotels’ New Booking Engine Announcem...
As a result, we can clearly notice the desire of hoteliers to beat the OTAs (whousually display overcharged booking engine...
This change in the online distribution industry that hotels start taking advantage of,can be due to a change in the online...
Percentage of Travelers Using Mobile Phones                                                                               ...
Percentage of Travelers Using Mobile Devices for Travel-Related Activities                                    By Google, T...
The online customers’ behavior is especially observed on Social mediawebsites, and from these observations, hotels and OTA...
To sum up, as OTAs made the most of the Internet at its early stage, they wereable to analyze and anticipate online custom...
Home Page of Trivago’s Website (July 2012)                                                                             By ...
When comparing the home pages of the main comparison sites, it can be noticed thatTrivago is the most overcharged site, Ho...
Optimized Home Page of Mr. & Mrs. Smiths Website (July 2012)            By Emilie Alba, Optimized Home Page of Mr. & Mrs. ...
Booking Platforms Comparison between                                                                         Hotels Combin...
Price Comparison on Hotels Combined and Wanderflys Booking Platforms                 By Emilie Alba, Price Comparison on H...
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels
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A complete paper to increase Independent Hotels' Direct Bookings and improve their online visibility

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Transcript of "Thesis - A Direct Booking Strategy for Independent Hotels"

  1. 1. Academic Year 2011/2012 International Hospitality Management - MBA IEMI-CMH - Paris THESIS                          INDEPENDENT  HOTELS  &  ONLINE  DISTRIBUTION   How Independent Hoteliers can Increase Direct Bookings and therefore Revenue, through a Strategic Use of Google, while Limiting Dependence on Online Travel Agencies?  S u b m i s s i o n   d a t e :   N o v e m b e r   1 5 ,   2 0 1 2                     E m i l i e   A L B A   N I C O L A S  S u p e r v i s o r :   E l i z a b e t h   C r a i g                   M B A   2   A                             +   3 3   1   8 4   1 6   7 2   6 3                             a l b a . e m i l i e @ g m a i l . c o m    
  2. 2.   2  
  3. 3. HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT CENTER - PARIS - Submitted on November, 15 2012 - How Independent Hoteliers can Increase Direct Bookings and therefore Revenue, through a Strategic Use of Google, while Limiting Dependence on Online Travel Agencies? Compiled and Written by Emilie ALBA NICOLAS Supervised by Elizabeth Craig Academic Year 2011/2012 MBA - Hospitality and Luxury Brands Management   3  
  4. 4. - ACKNOWLEDGMENT – This thesis has been realized within the framework of my MBA in Hospitalityand Luxury Brands Management, at the Hospitality Management Center of Paris. Itwould not have been conceivable without the support and encouragement of myfamily and professional surrounding. I would like to thank Elizabeth Craig, CEO and Founder of the web-marketingagency Oneglobe Network, for the projects related to the thesis that she delegated tome. I also really appreciated her regular support, her wise advice, and all the practicaldocuments and pieces of information she shared with me. Special thanks should be given to my husband Samuel Alba, EngineeringManager at DotCloud, who reviewed the technical part about the web pagesoptimization, which requires some basics in computer programming.   4  
  5. 5. - TABLE OF CONTENTS -- ACKNOWLEDGMENT –   4  - TABLE OF ILLUSTRATIONS -   8  - LIST OF CHARTS -   10  - TITLES -   11  - THEORETICAL AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK -   12  - METHODOLOGY-   15  - ABSTRACT -   17  - CHAPTER 1 - THE LATEST TRENDS IN ONLINE DISTRIBUTION   20  I- PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN HOTELS AND OTAS: THE REPERCUSSIONS FORHOTELIERS   21  A- THE DECLINE IN HOTEL REVENUE DESPITE THE INCREASE IN ROOMS SOLD   21  B- THE EMERGENCE OF “HOTEL-FRIENDLY” OTAS   23  1- “HOTEL-FRIENDLY” OTA: A NEW CONCEPT   23  2- OTAS’ ONLINE PRESENCE   27  II- OVERVIEW ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF ONLINE TRAVEL AGENCIES   28  A- THE VARIOUS FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTED TO OTAS’ GROWTH   28  1- THE INTERNET BOOMING   28  2- SEPTEMBER 9, 2001 TERRORIST ATTACKS   30  B- THE RECENT CHANGES IN ONLINE DISTRIBUTION   31  1- HOTELS’ ONLINE ACTIVITY TO BECOME COMPETITIVE   31  2- OTA: THE BEGINNING OF THE END?   33  C- A MORE SEGMENTED ONLINE DISTRIBUTION CHANNEL   38  1- HOTEL COMPARISON SITES   38  2- ONLINE TRAVEL GUIDES AND RESELLERS   40  3- FLASH SALES / DAILY DEALS SITES   44  4- AUCTION AND DISCOUNT SITES   45  5- LAST MINUTES SALES   46  - CHAPTER 2 - INTERPRETING GOOGLE’S MECHANISMS FOR ONLINESUCCESS   51  I- APPROACHING GOOGLE’S TOOLS FOR SUCCESSFUL ONLINEDISTRIBUTION STRATEGIES   52  A- INDEPENDENT HOTELIERS’ NEED TO TURN TOWARDS WEB-MARKETING STRATEGIES   52  1- THE CHALLENGES AND STRATEGIES OF HOTEL REVENUE MANAGERS IN 2012   52  2- THE DEVELOPMENT OF DISTRIBUTION STRATEGIES ADOPTED BY HOTELIERS IN 2012   53  B- GOOGLE’S RAPID DEVELOPMENT FRIGHTENS HOTELIERS   55  1- GOOGLE’S EFFORTS TO ALWAYS IMPROVE ITS SEARCH ENGINE   55  2- GOOGLE’S APPROACH TO OFFER A 360° WEB USER EXPERIENCE   57  C- HOW GOOGLE MANAGES THE ONLINE PRESENCE OF BOTH OTAS AND HOTELS   60     5  
  6. 6. 1- ONLINE EXPOSURE COMPARISON OF HOTELS AND OTAS ON GOOGLE SEARCH   60  2- ONLINE EXPOSURE COMPARISON OF HOTELS AND OTAS ON GOOGLE+ LOCAL   61  3- ONLINE EXPOSURE COMPARISON OF HOTELS AND OTAS ON GOOGLE MAPS   62  4- ONLINE EXPOSURE COMPARISON OF HOTELS AND OTAS ON GOOGLE HOTEL FINDER   63  II- GOOGLE TURNS TOWARDS A MORE SOCIAL APPROACH   65  A- THE DEVELOPMENT OF GOOGLE+ PROJECT   65  1- FROM THE LAUNCH OF GOOGLE+ TO ITS ADAPTATION TO BUSINESSES   65  3- GOOGLE “+1” BUTTONS TO FIX SHARING ON THE WEB   67  B- OVERVIEW OF GOOGLE+ LOCAL TO UNDERSTAND THE GOOGLE+ PROJECT   75  1- GOOGLE+ LOCAL: EXPLANATION, DESCRIPTION AND DIFFERENCES WITH GOOGLE+BUSINESS PAGES   75  2- GOOGLE PARTNERS WITH ZAGAT TO DEVELOP GOOGLE+ LOCAL   78  3- GOOGLE+ LOCAL EXPANSION   79  C- GOOGLE KNOWLEDGE GRAPH AND THE VALUE OF IMAGES AMONG SEARCH RESULTS   83  1- THE LAUNCH OF KNOWLEDGE GRAPH   83  2- A MORE VISUAL SEARCH RESULTS PAGE ON GOOGLE   84  -­‐  CHAPTER  3  -­‐  LEVERAGING  STRATEGIES  TO  HELP  INDEPENDENT  HOTELIERS  MEET  THEIR  GOALS   89  I- FACTORS TO CONSIDER IN THE OPTIMIZATION OF ONLINE VISIBILITY  90  A- UNDERSTANDING THE PRINCIPLES OF ONLINE VISIBILITY   90  1- THE ORGANIZATION AND INFLUENCE OF THE TOUCH POINTS FOR HOTELS’ ONLINEVISIBILITY   90  2- THE CURRENT OBSTACLES THAT PREVENT THE “WHEEL” FROM TURNING UP TO HOTELS’ONLINE VISIBILITY.   93  B- UNDERSTANDING HOW GOOGLE SEES BUSINESSES’ PRESENCE ON THE INTERNET   96  1- HOTELIERS’ MISUNDERSTANDING ABOUT THE WAY TO TARGET AND ATTRACT POTENTIALCUSTOMERS   96  2- THE STANDARDIZATION OF BUSINESSES’ ONLINE PRESENCE THANKS TO GOOGLE+ LOCAL   98  3- MAKING THE ONLINE PRESENCE OF A HOTEL COHERENT   100  II- ONLINE PERFORMANCE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR HOTELIERS   102  A- GOOGLE+ LOCAL MERGER PERFORMANCE: MAPS FOR HOTELIERS   102  1- STEPS BEFORE LAUNCHING THE VERIFICATION PROCESS OF THE GOOGLE+ PAGES   103  2- GETTING GOOGLE+ PAGES VERIFIED BY GOOGLE TO PROCEED TO THE MERGER   104  3- MANAGING GOOGLE+ LOCAL LISTING PROBLEMS DUE TO THE MERGER   107  B- WEBSITE AND SOCIAL MEDIA OPTIMIZATION   112  1- THE IMPORTANCE OF BACKLINKS AND SOCIAL MEDIA   114  2- THE NEGATIVE INFLUENCE OF ADVERTISEMENTS   116  3- THE IMPACT OF KEYWORDS   117  4- THE END OF TRADITIONAL SEO?   118  III- A REPOSITION STRATEGY TO GENERATE DIRECT BOOKINGS   119  A- ADAPTING TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF ONLINE TRENDS   119  1- THE INFLUENCE OF ONLINE CONSUMERS’ BEHAVIOR ON SOCIAL MEDIA, OTAS ANDSEARCH ENGINES   119  2- ONLINE CONSUMERS’ BEHAVIOR GOES FROM “SEARCH” TO “DISCOVER”   123  B- THE ELABORATION OF A DIRECT BOOKING STRATEGY FOR INDEPENDENT HOTELS  126     6  
  7. 7. 1- THE OBJECTIVES OF THIS INNOVATION CONCEPT   126  2- A VISUAL EXPLANATION OF THE STRATEGY   126  - DISCUSSION CHAPTER – DIRECT BOOKING STRATEGY: A 3-PRONGEDACTION PLAN   129  I- BETTER WORKING WITH OTAS   130  A- HYPOTHESES RELATED TO THE POSITIVE INFLUENCE OF OTAS IN THE DIRECTBOOKING STRATEGY   130  1- DISCUSSION RELATED TO HYPOTHESIS 1   130  2- DISCUSSION RELATED TO HYPOTHESIS 4   131  B- THE NEW OTA STRATEGY INDEPENDENT HOTELS SHOULD CONSIDER   131  1- A STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS TO A MORE BALANCED APPROACH   131  2- UNDERSTANDING OTAS’ BUSINESS MODEL   133  II- OPTIMIZING THE HOTEL’S WEB PAGES WITH SOCIAL MEDIA   135  A- HYPOTHESES DEMONSTRATING THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA INTEGRATIONWITHIN HOTELS’ WEB PAGES   135  1- DISCUSSION RELATED TO HYPOTHESIS 1 AND HYPOTHESIS 3   135  B- THE SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY ON HOTELS’ WEB PAGES   136  1- WEB PAGES OPTIMIZATION THROUGH KEYWORDS   136  2- TUTORIALS FOR KEYWORDS MANAGEMENT WITHIN WEB PAGES   137  3- SOCIAL MEDIA OPTIMIZED WEBSITES THROUGH EFFECTIVE DESIGN   144  III- CULTIVATING AND PROMOTING BRAND VALUE VIA SOCIAL MEDIA   148  A- HYPOTHESES HIGHLIGHTING SOCIAL MEDIA POWER TO ENHANCE BRAND VALUE   148  1-   DISCUSSION RELATED TO HYPOTHESES 2 AND 5   148  2-   DISCUSSION RELATED TO HYPOTHESIS 3   149  B- BRAND VALUE PROMOTION STRATEGY ON SOCIAL MEDIA   150  1- THE USE OF ALL POPULAR SOCIAL MEDIA TOUCH POINTS   150  2- THE USE OF UPDATED HIGH VALUE SOCIAL OFFERS AND BENEFITS   151  3- SOCIAL OFFERS’ CROSS PROMOTION AND SHARING   154  - GENERAL CONCLUSION –   158  - WEB REFERENCES -   160  - LIST OF APPENDICES –   164  - APPENDICES -   165     7  
  8. 8. - TABLE OF ILLUSTRATIONS -- Page 24: Room Key’s Search System (July 2012)- Page 24: Expedia’s Search System (July 2012)- Page 25: MyBestHotelRate’s Search System and Home Page (July 2012)- Page 26: Global Hotel Exchange’s Search System and Home Page (July 2012)- Page 32: Genre Hotels’ New Booking Engine on their Website- Page 32: Genre Hotels’ New Booking Engine Announcement on Facebook- Page 39: Home Page of Trivago’s Website (July 2012)- Page 39: Home Page of Hotels Combined’s Website (July 2012)- Page 39: Home Page of Room77’s Website (July 2012)- Page 41: Optimized Home Page of Mr. & Mrs. Smiths Website (July 2012)- Page 42: Booking Platforms Comparison between Hotels Combined and Wanderfly (July2012)- Page 43: Price Comparison on Hotels Combined and Wanderflys Booking Platforms- Page 44: Groupon Getaways’ Optimized Offer- Page 45: Voyages Privé’s Registration System through Mailing- Page 47: Pricelines Tonight Booking Mobile Application- Page 47: Expedias Hotels.com Booking Mobile Application- Page 48: The Strength of Design on "Hotel Tonight" and "Very Last Room" MobileApplications- Page 50: The Five Hotel’s Last Minutes Offer on Facebook- Page 58: Google’s Enhancement of User Experience on its Search Engine- Page 59: Google+s Contribution to the User Experience Improvement on Google SearchEngine- Page 60: Online Exposure Comparison of Hotels and OTAs on Google Search- Page 61: Online Exposure Comparison of Hotels and OTAs on Google+ Local- Page 62: OTAs and Hotels Direct Competitors Exposure at the Bottom of Hotels Google+Local Pages- Page 63: Online Exposure Comparison of Hotels and OTAs on Google Maps- Page 64: Online Exposure Comparison of Hotels and OTAs on Google Hotel Finder- Page 66: The Top of “The Landmark London Suites” Google+ Business Page- Page 67: The Bottom of “The Landmark London Suites” Google+ Business Page- Page 69: Google “+1” Button - A Recommendation Tool- Page 70: Facebook “Like” Button – A Self-Expression Tool- Page 71: Facebook’s New Sharing Feature to Compete with Google- Page 72: Google Officializes The Recommendation Function of its “+1” Button- Page 73: Google “+1” Button Optimization to Increase the Number of Shares through theMention of Users’ Contacts- Page 74: Google “+1” Button Optimization to Increase the Number of Shares byMentioning the Number of Recommendations- Page 75: Google “+1” Button Optimization to Increase the Number of Shares by SuggestingAdditional Articles to Read- Page 76: CitizenM’s Permanent Google+ Local Page- Page 77: “The Landmark London Suites” Google+ Business Page- Page 78: Google+ Local is Adapted to Hotel Search- Page 79: Zagat Rating has been Extended to Hotels- Page 80: Google+ Local Integration into Google Search- Page 81: Google+ Local Integration into Google Maps- Page 82: Google+ Local Integration into Mobile Phones- Page 83: Google Knowledge Graph’s “See results about” box Improves Search byKeywords- Page 84: Google Knowledge Graph Appearance on Google Search- Page 86: Keywords Analysis on Google Search for C* House   8  
  9. 9. - Page 87: Keywords Analysis on C* House’s Google+ Business Page- Page 88: Keywords Analysis of C* House on Picasa- Page 95: The Enhancement of Third Party Sites’ Visibility on Google Search Engine- Page 104: Google Places’ Listing Management Page- Page 105: Google+ Page Verification Request Form- Page 108: Google Support for Listing Marked as “Needs Actions”- Page 109: The "Right Way" to Delete a Google Places Listing- Page 110: Google Support for Creating a Google+ Local Page- Page 122: Airbnb’s Wish Lists – A Discovery Oriented Social Platform- Page 123: Facebook’s “Want” Button – A Discovery Oriented Social Feature- Page 138: Hotel Sofitel So Bangkok & Bellagio Hotel Source Code- Page 139: Visual Tags Location on “Hotel Sofitel So Bangkok” Website- Page 140: Visual Tags Location on Bellagio Hotel Website- Page 142: Design and Content of a Hotel’s Website Home Page Enhancing Social Media- Page 143: Design and Content of Palms Casino Resort’s Internal Social Page- Page 144: Design and Content of Fairmont Hotel’s External Social Page- Page 149: Hotel Ares Eiffel – Example of an Optimized Facebook Page- Page 150:Hotel Ares Eiffel - Example of Communication Management on a Facebook Page- Page 151:Hotel Ares Eiffel - Ranked Among the Top Results on Google Search Engine- Page 152: Example of a Hotel’s Visual Facebook Offer Involving Cross Promotion- Page 153: The Sharing of Palms Casino Resort’s Offer on Twitter- Page 153: The Visual Result of Authorship Verified Google+ Profiles on Google Search   9  
  10. 10. - LIST OF CHARTS -- Page 21: 2011 – Percentage of Reservation on OTAs and Hotels’ Websites for Branded andNon-Branded Hotels- Page 22: 2012 - Percentage of Reservation on OTAs and Hotels’ websites for Chain Hotelsand Independent Hotels- Page 27: Global OTAs & their Main Acquired Booking Site Brands- Page 29: Internet Users Trends Surveys- Page 29: Online Consumer Trends Survey- Page 33: 2007 – 2011: Percentage of bookings in Top 46 Hotel Brands via ComputerizedReservation Systems- Page 35: Percentage of Travelers Using Mobile Phones to Access Internet for Travel Info- Page 35:Percentage of Travelers Using Mobile Devices for Travel-Related Activities- Page 36: Percentage of Travelers Using Social Media during their Travel Experience- Page 49: OTAs’ Presence on Distribution Channels- Page 52: Hotel Revenue Managers’ Main Challenges in 2012- Page 54: The Percentage of Hoteliers’ Digital Marketing Practices in 2010-2012- Page 56: Googles Major Changes Since 2011- Page 68: Google’s Sharing Principle: Vote, Comment, And Share- Page 91: Pyramid Model - The Independent Relationship of Social Media, Website andGoogle- Page 92: Pyramid Model – Visibility Insights Wheel- Page 93: Pyramid Model – The Main Obstacles Encountered on Each Touch Point- Page 96: The Representation of Independent Hotels’ Online Visibility Strategy (Early 2012)- Page 97: Google’s Positioning Strategy to Target Businesses’ Online Consumers (Early2012)- Page 98: Google’s Social Extension through the Launch of Google+ Local to TargetBusinesses’ Online Consumers- Page 100: The Update of a Hotel’s Online Presence According to Google’s NewRequirements- Page 102: Instructions Before Getting Your Google+ Page Verified- Page 104: How to Request a Google+ Verification to Get Your Pages Merged- Page 107: Process in Case of Merging Failure or Data Issues- Page 112: Search Engine Ranking Factors in 2012- Page 114: The Negative Influence of Advertisements in Search Engine Ranking in 2012- Page 115: The Impact of Keywords in Search Engine Ranking in 2012- Page 116: The Influence of Images and Text in Search Engine Ranking in 2012- Page 118: OTAs’ Position in the Online Distribution System- Page 120: The Decline of Broad Search Terms According to Google Trends- Page 120: The Increase of Standard Search Terms According to Google Trends- Page 125: Direct Booking Strategy Visual Plan for Independent Hoteliers- Page 130: Top 10 Review Sites by Number of Reviews- Page 131: OTAs’ Main Revenue Streams and Costs Drivers- Page 136/135: The Strategic Use of Social Media keywords to Optimize the Description ofa Hotel on Web Pages- Page 137: URLs Optimization through the Use of Social Media Keywords- Page 137: Links/Backlinks Distribution on Each Web Page- Page 141: Example of Tag Optimization through the Use of Social Media Keywords- Page 148: The Influence of Pinterest on U.S. Women Purchase Decision Process   10  
  11. 11. - TITLES - - Thesis Title - How Independent Hoteliers can Increase Direct Bookings and therefore Revenue, through a Strategic Use of Google, while Limiting Dependence on Online Travel Agencies? - Main Subsections Titles – Chapter 1 – The Latest Trends in Online Distribution I- Partnership between hotels and OTAs: the repercussions for hoteliers II- Overview on the development of Online Travel Agencies CHAPTER 2 –Interpreting Google’s Mechanisms for Online Success I- Approaching Google’s Tools for Successful Online Distribution Strategies II- Google turns towards a more social approach CHAPTER 3 –Leveraging Strategies to Help Independent Hoteliers Meet their Goals I- Factors to consider in the optimization of online visibility II- Online Performance Recommendations for Hoteliers III- A reposition strategy to generate direct bookings DISCUSSION CHAPTER – Direct Booking Strategy: a 3-pronged action plan I- Better working with OTAs II- Optimizing the hotel’s web pages with social media III- Cultivating and promoting brand value via social media   11  
  12. 12. - THEORETICAL AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK -1- Definition of Terms“G”: on some graphs means “Google” “#-pack”: means “the number of Google algorithms updates”“rel=nofollow” is an indication that should be placed in the website or blog coderight before the link of an untrusted website or blog. Thus, it prevents Google fromassociating your website with other untrusted sites.AH&LA: American Hotel & Lodging AssociationAirbnb is a community marketplace for people to book accommodations around theworld, in local homes or in atypical places run by professionals.“Brand.com” refers to a hotel’s website.Backlink: a “link coming from another website to your own website”.Google Adlinks is part of Google Adsense but it may be assumed that it is lessnegatively valued than Adsense, in that Adlinks displays a list of topics that arerelevant to the website. As a result each link points towards an advertisement inrelation to the content of the website.Google Adsense is Google’s advertising tool that enables web publishers to earnmoney by displaying Google ads on their website.Google+: Google’s social platform that recently merged with Google Places to createGoogle+ Local.Google Places: Businesses’ “ID card” that displays all the information in relation to acompany. Google Places was recently replaced by Google+ Local.Google+ Local: the merger between Google+ and Google Places. Google+ Local hasbeen integrated on Google Search, Google Maps and mobiles, which gives morevisibility to businesses.HeBS: Hospitality eBusiness Strategies Digital is a famous hotel Internet marketingfirm.Mashable is a famous online news platform about digital innovation.OTA: Online Travel AgenciesPersonal travelers: according to Google Think Travel, are people having taken atleast one trip for leisure in the past 6 months.“Permanent” Google+ Local page is the result of the successful merger between theGoogle Places Listing of a business and its Google+ Business Page.SEO: Search Engine Optimization“Stopwords” are all the articles and conjunctions belonging to a language (such as:a/an/the/ and/in/to/ etc.). They should not appear in a link because they weaken itsvalue.STR: Smith Travel Research   12  
  13. 13. TravelZoo is known as the largest publisher of travel deals on the Internet, and isappreciated by hotels because it works according to a Pay per Click principle (eachclick costs around $0,15 to the hotel). It is similar to Google Adwords but with a bitless exposure.TripAdvisor is not an OTA. It is a local recommendation sites that works inpartnership with OTAs.VCS Principle: is Google optimized sharing process, which consists in “Voting,Commenting and Sharing”.2- Theory Integration and Application Web marketing is a new job in the hospitality industry that implies specificskills and knowledge in both digital technologies and lodging sectors. This is why hotel managers encounter difficulty in figuring out and monitoringthe web marketing strategies suggested by marketing strategists. They end upvalidating or not strategies they don’t understand, with no idea of the repercussionstheir decisions might have on hotels’ revenue. Board members and stakeholders are in the same situation as hotel managers,they recognize that online visibility is essential, but they don’t realize what it consistsof, and the time and money it involves. This is why many hotels don’t invest revenuein website redesign and optimization. Today, independent hotels are struggling to compete with World Hotel Groups,and are becoming ruined by OTAs. The need of a direct booking strategy is more thanpresent. The direct booking strategy is aimed at leading hoteliers to rethink the waythey used to generate revenue. Independent hoteliers will have to convince hotelmanagers and stakeholders, that the strategy is the solution to increase direct bookingsand therefore revenue. This is why this thesis reviews the basics of web marketingbefore developing the strategy. Independent hoteliers will be very likely to adopt this strategy because they feelwithout arms, and keep working with OTAs even if the latter play a very little part ingenerating hotel revenue. Hoteliers will be interested in the way the direct bookingstrategy recommends to work with OTAs, namely by optimizing the hotels’ presenceon their websites, and making the most of their billboard effect. Regarding social media, even if independent hoteliers are not very active onthem, they start valuing the hotels’ presence on this touch point. The direct bookingstrategy will therefore convince hoteliers about the importance of being activethrough the regular publication of social offers. Concerning Google+, the direct booking strategy is in part aimed at showing thevalue of this new social platform for online visibility. The strategy makes hoteliersaware of the importance of having a coherent online presence, especially on Google,because the latter influences ranking on its search engine. As a result this direct booking strategy will enable hoteliers to generate revenueaccording to two ways. First, through the increase of direct bookings, and secondly   13  
  14. 14. through the update and optimization of hotels’ online presence, which will influencetheir visibility on search engines. To finish, OTAs, social media and Google have to be considered altogetherbecause they all generate online visibility, and therefore have an influence on hotels’revenue. OTAs are indeed favored by Google, which explains their high visibility onGoogle search engine, and Social media are also crawled by Google to determinewebsites’ ranking on its search engine. The direct booking strategy therefore consists in using and combining the forcesof these 3 touch points to attract online consumers.   14  
  15. 15. - METHODOLOGY- The thesis was conducted in parallel of web marketing missions realized forindependent hotels and apartment companies, in the framework of my internship atOneglobe Network.This paper consists of 105 illustrations and graphs, that have been directly includedwithin the document, because they give visual explanations of the theoretical andtechnical points developed.I created most charts related to hotels’ online presence and Google’s socialdevelopment on my own, in order to help independent hoteliers figure out the newchallenges of today, and to further communicate about Oneglobe Network and attractpotential clients. These charts are therefore the results of Oneglobe Network’s view of thelodging market on the Internet, according to the measurements and analytics realizedfor our clients’ online presence.The other quantitative technics that influenced the carrying out of these charts werestudies realized by research companies specialized in the marketing industry and inthe hospitality industry, namely SearchMetrics, L2 Think-tank, Google Think Travel,HeBS Digital, eMarketer, Search Engine Land, Search engine Watch, Hotel NewsNow, SEOmoz and Tnooz.As for the qualitative technics, Google’s online customer service was also a maininformation source for the creation of the 3 Google maps made to ensure onlinevisibility to independent hotels.The other charts were entirely made from the information found in the studies andanalyses, made by the research companies previously mentioned. Regarding the illustrations, most of them consist of screenshots taken from:- Our clients’ social media accounts and website- World Hotel Groups and Independent Hotels’ social media accounts and websites- OTAs’ websites- Google’s tools and features (Google Search Engine, Google+, Google Maps, GoogleHotel Finder)Screenshots are qualitative technics in that they are the visual proofs of the currenttrends in marketing and hospitality on the Internet. However, as web marketing anddigital technologies evolves very rapidly, some screenshots will become out of date astime passes, and will no longer represent the platforms (websites, social media sites)they currently refer to. This is the reason why, some parts of this thesis have alreadybeen published online, so that hoteliers can use the content to solve the problems theycurrently encounter.   15  
  16. 16. Still about the qualitative technics, the thesis was made through a regular followup of the new tools and platforms launched by digital technologies companies, andthrough the trial of these new tools and platforms for Oneglobe Network’s clients.Online consumer behavior is also frequently the subject of research, because it is thebasis of web marketing strategies developed for independent hotels, and because itenables to anticipate the launch of future tools and platforms created by digitaltechnologies companies. To finish, I chose to integrate the action plan of the direct booking strategy intothe discussion chapter, because the hypotheses, whether validated or not, justify thechoice of each action developed. As the actions are based on the researches andanalyses conducted throughout the paper, I could explain why some hypotheses canbe validated, why some other cannot, and why some others can still be questioned.   16  
  17. 17. -­‐  ABSTRACT  -­‐   This thesis consists of real researches and analyses, made for the independenthotels and apartment companies that the web-marketing agency Oneglobe Networkworks with. The entire paper is therefore based on current troubles hoteliersencounter, and the solutions suggested are based on famous web marketingspecialists’ analyses and opinion, and on my own experience in web marketing.The paper is therefore aimed mainly at marketing specialists working for a lodgingcompany, and students in the hospitality industry, in that it consists in:- Developing a direct booking strategy, based on the actual online consumer behavior,that involves the use of social media and the partnership with OTAs.- Making hoteliers aware of the importance of a coherent and optimized onlinepresence.- Sharing the necessary information to anticipate the future development of OTAs,understand their way of functioning and their evolving business model.- Tackling Google’s latest tools and features that influences businesses’ ranking onsearch engine, and sharing tips to enhance Google’s validation of hotels’ accounts. Throughout the thesis, I acquired many technical skills related to website andsocial media optimization for online visibility, but I also integrated many trendsrelated to online distribution.I indeed realized that OTAs have a length ahead of hoteliers in terms of servicesprovided to online consumers, and that hoteliers should therefore follow up theirdevelopment and draw inspiration from them. However, unlike OTAs, I also noticedthat independent hotels have the necessary resources to provide an online consumerexperience, which is therefore a strength for hoteliers in their competition with OTAs.In addition, I noticed that Google evolves according to online consumer behavior, andthat the ranking on Google Search Engine is therefore mainly based on the consumerexperience that websites offer. With this finding, hoteliers can review their ownwebsite and make it more online consumer friendly, which will improve their onlinevisibility.To finish, I realized that both online consumers and Internet companies (searchengines, social media) are turning towards social environment, which forces hoteliersto reconsider their web marketing strategies to increase their number of onlinereservations. Online consumers indeed more and more discover products and services(hotels included) on social media, instead of making general search on search engines.This explains why Google developed its own social platform “Google+” and whysocial media are developing e-commerce features.   17  
  18. 18. - GENERAL INTRODUCTION – Generating revenue has become a real challenge for independent hoteliers, sinceOTAs’ online visibility has increased, and since they have raised the commissionsrequested to hotels.The solution for hotels would be to limit dependence on OTAs, and increase directbookings. However, independent hoteliers have limited marketing andcommunication budgets, and have trouble remaining visible on the Internet. Googleindeed seems to favor 3rd parties’ presence, and recently changed its criteria to rankwebsites in its search engine. Independent hoteliers feel helpless, in a compromising situation for theirbusiness, which raises the following question: “How Independent Hoteliers canincrease direct bookings and therefore revenue, through a strategic use ofGoogle, while limiting dependence on Online Travel Agencies?” After more than one year of internship at Oneglobe Network, a web-marketingagency for independent hotels, I discovered Google’s potential for businesses’ onlinevisibility, and Independent hoteliers’ lack of skills in terms of online optimization.The more I learnt about Search Engine Optimization, the more the gap betweenIndependent Hotels and Google became obvious. One year ago, Elizabeth Craig, CEO of Oneglobe Network, came up with theidea of working on a direct booking strategy for her clients. The strategy would bebased on travellers’ online discovery journey, and would therefore involve skills inthe use of Google, Social Media and website optimization.As a result, this strategy, whose main objectives are to increase direct bookings andlead independent hoteliers to rethink the way they generate online bookings, wouldalso be the opportunity for hoteliers to update and improve their entire onlinepresence, and therefore get the basics of web marketing. In order to answer theseadditional objectives, the paper therefore deals with hotel website and social mediaoptimization, introduces hotel-friendly OTAs, tackles OTAs’ business model andinsists on Google’s ranking factors on search engine. Regarding the hypotheses based on the research problem, I expect that thepotential of Google’s social platform “Google+” will make independent hotels asvisible as world hotel groups and OTAs on Google search engine, so that onlineconsumers are more likely to visit their websites. Concerning online consumers, I expect that they will more and more refer tosocial media websites before, during and after their trips or vacations. They will alsomore and more trust booking systems embedded on social media to make hotelreservations. I also expect that Google keeps developing its search engine, and keeplaunching new tools and platforms likely to encourage businesses (hotels included) tobe active on Google+. To finish, I expect that hotel-friendly OTAs become as visible as global OTAson search engines, due to their efforts in providing an attractive consumer experience,and in requesting low commissions or no commission to hotels.   18  
  19. 19. This thesis would not have been conceivable without Oneglobe Networks’clients that trusted us for solving their problems related to Google, and to their declinein direct bookings revenue. It could not have been carried out without ElizabethCraig, who came up with the idea of setting up a direct booking strategy involvingboth OTAs’ presence and social media. My expertize being centered on Google and Search Engine Optimization, thisthesis does not cover in details the business related to OTAs, nor provides technicalaspects in relation to website and social media optimization. The study is limited to an overview of OTAs’ history, their main businessmodel and the latest trends in online distribution channels. It does not provideinformation about the most efficient global OTAs to work with, and the strategies todevelop so that hotels can reduce their commissions, because the needs andexpectations of hotels are different in this area. As for social media and website optimization, the study tackles the elements toenhance that will improve the online consumers’ experience, and convince the latterto make reservations on the hotels’ web pages. No technical details are sharedbecause: • concerning social media - many guides on the Internet already explain the step-by-step processes to optimize hotels’ accounts. • regarding website optimization - hotels should contact web developers because it requires a specific expertize that most web marketing strategists don’t have. Throughout the study, more importance is given to Google+ Local because it isGoogle’s new social platform that is likely to increase hotels’ online visibility. Inaddition, Google+ Local was automatically generated on hotels’ Google accounts, andmany hotels (Oneglobe Networks’ clients included) encountered problems thatimpacted their online visibility, it was therefore essential to cover this topic in details. Furthermore, in addition to the technical details that don’t belong to webmarketing expertize, some elements the thesis involving digital technologies will berapidly out of date, because of the constant evolution of the latter in order to respondto online consumers needs and expectations. To finish, the direct booking strategy is currently being developed for OneglobeNetwork’s clients and no results in terms of direct bookings can be measured to date. As hoteliers closely work with OTAs but are short of time to follow theirdevelopments, the first chapter introduces the latest trends in online distribution,focusing essentially on OTAs’ segmentation and the impacts on independent hotels. One objective of the thesis being that Independent hoteliers become assuccessful as OTAs in terms of online visibility, the second chapter tackles Google’slatest tools and features, including its new social approach, that directly influencesbusinesses’ ranking on search engines. The third chapter demonstrates the interdependence of online search, socialmedia and websites for businesses’ online performance, which makes up the base ofthe direct booking strategy. The latter is finally developed in chapter four to helphoteliers optimize their online presence and generate revenue.   19  
  20. 20. - CHAPTER 1 –                   The Latest Trends in Online Distribution   20  
  21. 21. I- Partnership between hotels and OTAs: the repercussions for hoteliersNote - OTAs: “Online Travel Agencies”A- The decline in hotel revenue despite the increase in rooms sold Over the past few years, OTAs’ strategies to increase turnover and sell hotelrooms turned out efficient. However, independent hotels can hardly be delightedabout the situation. OTAs indeed enable independent to sell more rooms but theydon’t play a part in increasing their revenue.In January 2012, the author of the article “Report says Hotels Lose Out with MerchantSales on the Web” (made from data collected by Smith Travel Research and theAmerican Hotel & Lodging Association) mentioned, talking about US hotels, that“when they distribute rooms through OTAs in merchant sales, they give up twice asmuch in lost revenue as they pay out in commissions on standard agency sales”1. Thestudy based it results on more than 25000 hotels between January 2009 and June2011. The main reason for the revenue decline of independent hotels is thecommissions OTAs applies to each hotel room sold. According to Max Starkov2,President & CEO at HeBS the commissions applied by OTAs to hotels today standfor 20% to 30% over the room price, which represents twice or three times as much asthe traditional travel agency commission (10%)3.Note – HeBS: Hospitality eBusiness Strategies Digital is a famous hotel Internetmarketing firm.4As a result, hotel groups and independent hotels’ sales have been impacted in recentyears. Mark Starkov also shared the following figures that he got from PhoCusWrightSTR HSMAI Foundation, corresponding to the distribution of hotels’ total bookingsin 20115.                                                                                                                1  http://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-­‐News/Hotel-­‐News/Report-­‐says-­‐hotels-­‐lose-­‐out-­‐with-­‐merchant-­‐sales-­‐on-­‐the-­‐Web/)  2  http://www.linkedin.com/in/maxstarkov  3  http://www.hebsdigital.com/blog/the-­‐end-­‐of-­‐the-­‐ota-­‐merchant-­‐model-­‐%E2%80%93-­‐this-­‐time-­‐for-­‐real/  4  http://www.hebsdigital.com/  5 http://www.revenueyourhotel.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=402%3Athe-­‐2012-­‐dos-­‐a-­‐donts-­‐of-­‐hotel-­‐distribution-­‐part-­‐1&catid=7%3Ae-­‐commerce-­‐gds&Itemid=14       21  
  22. 22. 2011 – Percentage of Reservation on OTAs and Hotels’ Websites for Branded and Non-Branded Hotels OTAs Hotels’ websites Top Hotel Brands 8% (1) 18% Non-Branded Hotels 32% 10% By Max Starkov, The 2012 Dos & Donts of Hotel Distribution, Part 1, (PhoCusWright, STR, HSMAI Foundation), Article, Revenue Your Hotel, 2012, Appendix 46(1) % of total bookingsThe results of 2011 clearly show that the majority of non-branded hotels bookingscome from OTAs, which explains the decline in revenue for independent hotelsdespite the increase in number of rooms sold. It is also important to point out that OTAs’ success is currently higher than whatthe table highlights, because a huge percentage of total bookings made on the Internetgo directly in OTAs pockets. In fact, to compete with the growing success of bookingsites, OTAs created or bought back many of the currently existing booking sites.The best examples are Expedia that owns Hotels.com and Hotwire; and Orbitz thatowns HotelClub and CheapTickets and Priceline that bought back Pegasus’sTravelweb.com7.In addition, an EHL (Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne) and Rate Tiger study8 about thedistribution channels, shows that independent hotels are much more impacted byOTAs than are Chain Hotels. 2012 - Percentage of Reservation on OTAs and Hotels’ websites for Chain Hotels and Independent Hotels OTAs Hotels’ websitesChain Hotels 32% 33%Independent hotels 38% 31% By H.Tudori and R.C. Haynes, The Distribution Challenge - A viewpoint of 2010/2012, Rate Tiger and EHL study, 2012, Appendix19Although Chain Hotels have a balanced percentage of reservations made from OTAsand their website, the reservations for Independent Hotels through OTAs are higherthan the ones made through their website.Independent hotels’ situation being more critical than the one of Hotel groups, thisthesis brings analysis, strategies and solutions more adapted to independent hotels.                                                                                                                6http://www.revenueyourhotel.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=402%3Athe-­‐2012-­‐dos-­‐a-­‐donts-­‐of-­‐hotel-­‐distribution-­‐part-­‐1&catid=7%3Ae-­‐commerce-­‐gds&Itemid=14  7  http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Articles.aspx/7511/Low-­‐commission-­‐models-­‐no-­‐threat-­‐to-­‐OTAs  8  http://www.nihf.co.uk/DatabaseDocs/new_9521542__thedistributionchallenge2010-­‐2012ehl-­‐rt.pdf  9  http://www.nihf.co.uk/DatabaseDocs/new_9521542__thedistributionchallenge2010-­‐2012ehl-­‐rt.pdf     22  
  23. 23. Given the heavy competition on the OTAs market, in recent years lowcommissions OTAs (also known as “hotel-friendly” OTAs) were created in anattempt to seduce hoteliers.B- The emergence of “hotel-friendly” OTAs “Hotel-friendly” or “low commissions” OTAs are actually OTAs requesting acommission around 10% or less, just like the traditional Travel Agencies.1- “Hotel-friendly” OTA: a new concept Who are these revolutionaries of the online distribution, then? The first thatmade huge noise is Room Key, an attractive concept for hoteliers in that 10%commissions are requested. Room Key was launched in January 201210.Now the question is “what is their business model?”The answer is “the same as OTAs…” but the thing is that Room Key is on WorldHotel Brands’ initiative including Marriott International, InterContinental HotelsGroup, Hilton Worldwide, Choice Hotels, Hyatt, and Wyndham. Their objectivesimply was to take market shares back from OTAs. To achieve so, they differentiatedthemselves from OTAs by offering an easier and faster search system; along withloyalty program points, last room availability while reducing the commissions onroom sold11.a- The comparison between Room Key and Expedia The difference between Room Key and basic OTAs’ websites like Expedia isobvious. Room Key provides customers with a simple and fast platform, contrary toExpedia. We can notice this fact by simply comparing the search system of the twocompanies.                                                                                                                10  http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/articles.aspx/7927/Is-­‐Room-­‐Key-­‐keeping-­‐up-­‐with-­‐OTAs  11  http://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-­‐News/Hotel-­‐News/Report-­‐says-­‐hotels-­‐lose-­‐out-­‐with-­‐merchant-­‐sales-­‐on-­‐the-­‐Web/  http://www.hebsdigital.com/pdf/mag/12_HOTELS_Magazine_blog-­‐Are_the_New_Anti-­‐OTA_Sites_Ready_to_Take_the_Spotlight-­‐HeBS%20Digital%20Blog%20Summary.pdf         23  
  24. 24. Room Key’s Search System (July 2012) By Emilie Alba, Room Key’s Search System, Screenshot, July 2012, Appendix 712 Expedia’s Search System (July 2012) By Emilie Alba, Expedia’s Search System, Screenshot, July 201213                                                                                                                12  http://www.roomkey.com/     24  
  25. 25. Expedia search system looks more overcharged than Room Key, in part due to theflight, car and cruise choice options. However, according to Choice Hotel CEOStephen Joyce, Room Key will soon provide the same choice options (except cruises),the challenge will be therefore to keep the airy way and rounded design. In addition,according to Max Starkov, Room Key plans on adding “independent customerreviews, and the ability to compare, plan and share with friends and family”14.b- My Best Hotel Rate, a similar concept to that of Room Key MyBestHotelRate is a reservation site operated by The Asian American HotelOwners Association (AAHOA). AAHOA consists of 11000 members who run morethan 20000 hotels. The organization was created in 1989 in order to join togetherunder a reference brand aimed at inspiring confidence and increasing customerloyalty15.In 1989, this association was certainly created to compete with traditional TravelAgencies on the American and Asian markets. In 2011, to remain competitive withOTAs, they created MyBestHotelRate 16 , which enables the member hoteliers toincrease direct bookings. Just like Room Key, they request a 10% commission andmake the reservation process fast and easy for web users. MyBestHotelRate’s Search System and Home Page (July 2012) By Emilie Alba, MyBestHotelRate’s Search System and Home Page, Screenshot, July 2012, Appendix 917                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            13  http://www.expedia.com/  14  http://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-­‐News/Hotel-­‐News/Report-­‐says-­‐hotels-­‐lose-­‐out-­‐with-­‐merchant-­‐sales-­‐on-­‐the-­‐Web/  http://www.hebsdigital.com/pdf/mag/12_HOTELS_Magazine_blog-­‐Are_the_New_Anti-­‐OTA_Sites_Ready_to_Take_the_Spotlight-­‐HeBS%20Digital%20Blog%20Summary.pdf    15  http://www.aahoa.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=About_Us  16  http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/articles.aspx/6717/Can-­‐niche-­‐OTAs-­‐compete-­‐with-­‐the-­‐big-­‐guys  17  http://www.mybesthotelrate.com/     25  
  26. 26. The screenshot above highlights a simpler search system than Expedia, and anattractive design for web users. It also inspires confidence in terms of price with themention of “Best Available Rates” and makes itself different from competitors byensuring the possibility to “make multiple bookings in one reservation”18.c- Global Hotel Exchange: a no commission hotel-booking site Launched in 2011 19 , Global Hotel Exchange’s search system is all abouttravelers and hoteliers’ well being. They ensure that travelers won’t have their creditcard charged before their arrival, and will be able to change or cancel their reservationwithout any fees. Concerning hotels members, they won’t be charged withcommission or distribution fees because they will control their own rates andallocations through Global Hotel Exchange extranet. Global Hotel Exchange onlycharges travelers with a 2,99$ service fee for each booking, in order to cover the costsof credit card processing, search engine marketing and the Global Hotel Exchangetechnology20.The search system’s design also highlights the Global Hotel Exchange’ philosophy. Global Hotel Exchange’s Search System and Home Page (July 2012)                                                                                                                18  http://www.mybesthotelrate.com/  19  http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/articles.aspx/6717/Can-­‐niche-­‐OTAs-­‐compete-­‐with-­‐the-­‐big-­‐guys  20  http://www.globalhotelexchange.com/     26  
  27. 27. By Emilie Alba, Global Hotel Exchange’s Search System and Home Page, Screenshot, July 2012, Appendix 1021What transpires from the screenshot of GHE website is the design neutrality and allthe empty space, which conveys the fairness and simplicity of the booking site forboth travelers and hotels. The emptiness of the page also conveys GHE’s effort inshowing that their platform is easier to use than that of competitors, and that whatmatters is what travelers and hotels need and expect.Travelers’ search is made fast and easy through the search system, and hotels’booking management is easily accessible at the bottom of the page.GHE clearly differentiates from businesses like Room Key and MyBestHotelRatealthough the aim for each business is to be hotel-friendly and to simplify the bookingprocess for travelers. As a result, by the growing number of “hotel-friendly” OTAs, we can notice thereal need for hotels to increase revenue through fairer booking practices. The arrivalof these “hotel-friendly” OTAs is a hope of a better future for hotels. However hotelswill have to make efforts on their own websites if they want to increase directbooking. For example, hotels should start by reviewing the booking engine displayedon their website. The booking engine should be as simple, visible and easy to use asthe search systems displayed on “hotel-friendly” OTAs. This is why it is important toanalyze the strategies of OTAs and hotel booking sites to attract customers.Although the arrival of the “hotel-friendly” OTAs might seem like a revolution forhotels, they will still have to work with OTAs. As these latter invaded the hotelbooking space a few years ago, they have gained hotel guests’ confidence and arepresent everywhere through the creation of many brands.2- OTAs’ online presence What most hotel guests ignore is that many hotel reservation sites belong toglobal OTAs such as Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, Orbitz, etc. Global OTAs & their Main Acquired Booking Site Brands OTAs Corresponding Booking Site BrandsExpedia Hotels.com + Hotwire +VenereTravelocity LastMinutes.comPriceline Booking.com + AgodaOrbitz HotelClubs + CheapTickets By Emilie Alba, Global OTAs & their Main Acquired Booking Site Brands, Table, July 201222This large presence on the travel market influences OTAs to request highcommissions to hotels. According to Glenn Gruber 23 , a technology-marketingexecutive at Software Industry Insights who attended the Hotel Distribution Super                                                                                                                21  http://www.globalhotelexchange.com/  22  http://fr.hotels.com/,  http://www.hotwire.com/,  http://www.venere.com/,  http://www.lastminute.com/,  http://www.booking.com/,  http://www.agoda.com/,  http://www.hotelclub.com/,  http://www.cheaptickets.com/  23  https://twitter.com/ggruber66     27  
  28. 28. Session at HITEC 2012 (High Impact Technology Exchange Conference), “OTAsthink they still provide a strong value proposition alongside the hotels directchannel”24.As a result, in 2012, OTAs have no good reasons to reduce the commissions theyapply to hotel partners. They were able to answer travelers’ needs and expectations ata time when hoteliers needed customers, and as time went by, they kept adapting tocustomers’ online behaviors. In my opinion, this is what Glen Gruber means by“strong value” talking about OTAs.Today, Hotel-Friendly OTAs are not as visible as global OTAs on search engines,because we could see through this chapter that they were launched very recently.However, if Hotel-Friendly OTAs keeps growing, it means that there is potential onthe market. This doesn’t validate the hypothesis through which I expected that HotelFriendly OTAs would become as visible as global OTAs, however independent hotelscan consider working with them. Furthermore, as global OTAs are very present onsearch engines, we can think about including them within the direct booking strategy. But now, the questions are, how long the OTAs’ monopoly can last? Is thereany possibility in the future that they will reduce their commissions? Do IndependentHotels have a chance to get higher revenue while still working OTAs?So far, no experts in the hospitality industry can predict the future of IndependentHotels in front of OTAs. However, getting interested in OTAs’ history can helpindependent hotels to anticipate OTAs’ future orientations or at least to become asattractive as they are for web users. II- Overview on the development of Online Travel AgenciesA- The various factors that contributed to OTAs’ growth1- The Internet Booming OTAs started to develop 15 years ago, with the access to the Internet for thegeneral public.According to the chart below, in 1999, more than half of the people aged 35-54already had an Internet access and in 1998, the Online Travel Industry was the mostsuccessful, after the book industry and the software and hardware industries. Thisencouraging activity from web users rapidly reassured OTAs regarding a potentialsuccess25.                                                                                                                24  http://www.tnooz.com/2012/07/02/news/what-­‐is-­‐new-­‐in-­‐hotel-­‐distribution-­‐not-­‐a-­‐lot-­‐actually/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter  25  http://web.it.nctu.edu.tw/~etang/Internet_Marketing/eTravel.pdf     28  
  29. 29. Internet Users Trends Surveys Online Travel Industry, Internet Users Trends Survey, Statistics, National Chiao Tung University, Internet Marketing Class by Dr. Edwin Tang, Date Not Mentioned26 Online Consumer Trends Survey Online Travel Industry, Online Consumer Trends Survey, Statistics, National Chiao Tung University, Internet Marketing Class by Dr. Edwin Tang, Date Not Mentioned27                                                                                                                26  http://web.it.nctu.edu.tw/~etang/Internet_Marketing/eTravel.pdf  27  http://web.it.nctu.edu.tw/~etang/Internet_Marketing/eTravel.pdf     29  
  30. 30. 2- September 9, 2001 terrorist attacks Soon after the Internet booming, the terrorist attacks of September 9, 2001 inNew York, hugely contributed to OTAs expansion. The travel decline (especially inthe United States) forced the hospitality industry to turn towards the OTAs in order toattract travelers and increase their number of bookings.According to the study from “Smith Travel Research and the American Hotel &Lodging Association” previously mentioned, in 2001, OTAs represented 1.4% of UShotel revenue; they doubled their market share in one year to 2.9%. Then, they keptgrowing up to 7.7% in 201028. Turning towards OTAs compelled hotels to provide OTAs with “the best accessto inventory and rates possible” 29 along with “bigger discounts and attractivepromotions like 24-hour sales30.This is why today, hotels, which used to be known for selling rooms at the highestpossible rates, start communicating about the fact they provide the best available rateson their web pages (websites, social media sites, etc.), in order to increase theirrevenue through direct bookings.3- 2008 world economic crisis In addition to communicating about their best available rates, hotels had toincrease their marketing budget to get their website redesigned and their onlinepresence optimized. These strategies were made still in the objective to increase directbookings by being more attractive and visible than OTAs.However, the economic crisis of 2008 was another considerable challenge for hotels,especially for independent hoteliers. First of all, they were more budget limited thanbranded hotels, and secondly they were loosing customers.As a result, they had to rely a lot on OTAs to at least, increase their number ofreservations. Given the massive demand growth that OTAs were benefiting, the latter decidedto increase their commissions. In the HeBS study previously mentioned, Max Starkovreveals the following figures concerning OTAs’ market shares:- in Q3 2008: 25.4% of booking for the top 30 hotel brands- in Q3 2010: 37.5% of booking for the top 30 hotel brandsWhich represent an increase of 12.1 points in 2 years concerning hotel reservationthrough OTAs’ websites, namely a revenue loss for hotels of $5,4 billion in 2010mainly because of OTAs’ high commissions31.                                                                                                                28  http://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-­‐News/Hotel-­‐News/Report-­‐says-­‐hotels-­‐lose-­‐out-­‐with-­‐merchant-­‐sales-­‐on-­‐the-­‐Web/  29  http://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-­‐News/Hotel-­‐News/Report-­‐says-­‐hotels-­‐lose-­‐out-­‐with-­‐merchant-­‐sales-­‐on-­‐the-­‐Web/  30  http://www.hebsdigital.com/blog/the-­‐end-­‐of-­‐the-­‐ota-­‐merchant-­‐model-­‐%E2%80%93-­‐this-­‐time-­‐for-­‐real/  31  http://www.hebsdigital.com/blog/the-­‐end-­‐of-­‐the-­‐ota-­‐merchant-­‐model-­‐%E2%80%93-­‐this-­‐time-­‐for-­‐real/     30  
  31. 31. OTAs clearly took advantage of this demand growth because (except for onlinemarketing & selling that represented 1/3 of their revenue) they did not have as muchexpense as traditional travel agencies have32.In fact, traditional agencies had to cover the costs of brochures, trade shows, print ads,etc. and they were requesting a 10% commission. As a result, the 20% or 30%commissions OTAs request is not really justified33.B- The recent changes in online distribution1- Hotels’ online activity to become competitive Many hoteliers ceased to wonder if the OTAs’ monopoly will stop someday andstarted to think about a way to increase direct bookings. For a long time, theyremained focused on the objective to appear among the firsts on search engines. Then,they realized it was not sufficient and started considering investing in a new websiteor finding strategies to get potential guests to book on the hotels’ web pages (whetherwebsites or social networks). From a personal experience at Oneglobe Network, last year most hotels weworked with, regularly requested an analysis of their ranking on search enginesthrough the use of keywords. Then, from November 2012, with the arrival of Google+, Google algorithms that used to rank businesses on the search engine changed,leaving hotels and web marketing strategists in the uncertainty concerning the futureof the online visibility of their business.Since the beginning of 2012, many hotels are present on Google+ (even if they doubtthat someday they will be able to attract hotels guests from this social network) andhave had their website and/or booking engine redesigned.The most recent example of website redesign was announced today (July 11, 2012),on Facebook by Genre Hotels.                                                                                                                32  http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Articles.aspx/7511/Low-­‐commission-­‐models-­‐no-­‐threat-­‐to-­‐OTAs  33  http://www.hebsdigital.com/blog/the-­‐end-­‐of-­‐the-­‐ota-­‐merchant-­‐model-­‐%E2%80%93-­‐this-­‐time-­‐for-­‐real/     31  
  32. 32. Genre Hotels’ New Booking Engine Announcement on Facebook By Emilie Alba, Genre Hotels’ New Booking Engine Announcement on Facebook, Screenshot, July 11, 201234 Genre Hotels’ New Booking Engine on their Website By Emilie Alba, Genre Hotels’ New Booking Engine on their Website, Screenshot, July 11, 201235What can be inferred from Genre Hotels is its effort in simplifying its bookingprocess, thus improving the online experience of its potential guests. Genre Hotels’booking engine and airy website design reminds us of the ones provided by RoomKey and MyBestHotelRate, the “hotel friendly OTAs” introduced earlier.                                                                                                                34  http://www.facebook.com/Genre.Hotels.Co?fref=ts  35  http://genrehotels.com/     32  
  33. 33. As a result, we can clearly notice the desire of hoteliers to beat the OTAs (whousually display overcharged booking engines and home pages) and increase directbookings. The current harsh competition against OTAs in which hoteliers have entered,made them realize the importance of knowing web users’ online behavior, in order togive them the online experience they expect.2- OTA: the beginning of the end?a- A decline in hotel bookings for OTAs 2011 was the first year OTAs had seen a decline in hotel bookings. This lightfall is certainly due to the growing competition with “hotel-friendly” OTAs and thestrategies set up by some hotels (like website redesign) to get more direct bookings.According to a HeBS study based on Top 46 hotel brands, published in The SmartHotelier’s Guide to 2012 Digital Marketing Budget Planning36, the figures for theonline distribution industry are as follow: 2007 – 2011: Percentage of bookings in Top 46 Hotel Brands via Computerized Reservation Systems By M. Starkov and M. Mechoso Safer, The Smart Hotelier’s Guide to 2012 Digital Marketing Budget Planning, HeBS Digital Study, September 11, 201137Between 2007 and 2010, OTAs kept gaining market shares (+ 8,6 points) while brandhotel websites were loosing direct bookings (- 8,6 points). However in Q2 2011(which correspond to the period between April and June 2011), OTAs’ bookings hadreached only 31,8%, which means that by the end of the year they would hardly reach32,7 (the percentage they got the previous year). As for, brand hotel websites, in Q22011, they already got 2% more bookings than the previous year.                                                                                                                36  http://www.hebsdigital.com/blog/the-­‐smart-­‐hotelier%E2%80%99s-­‐guide-­‐to-­‐2012-­‐digital-­‐marketing-­‐budget-­‐planning/  37  http://www.hebsdigital.com/blog/the-­‐smart-­‐hotelier%E2%80%99s-­‐guide-­‐to-­‐2012-­‐digital-­‐marketing-­‐budget-­‐planning/     33  
  34. 34. This change in the online distribution industry that hotels start taking advantage of,can be due to a change in the online consumers’ behavior. It is also certainly the resultof all the efforts made by hoteliers on their web pages and on mobile, and of thegrowing increase of “hotel friendly” OTAs.b- Online consumer expectations The way web users act on the Internet influences the creation or thedevelopment of new tools or platforms. When OTAs started to expand on the web,they were selling the simple possibility to make several reservations in a short time,all of it at the best available rate. Consumers are still looking for the most convenientway to make reservations. However, today they also value a memorable or uniqueonline experience. This is why, more and more consumers want to directly deal withhotels’ manufacturers according to Max Starkov, in its HeBS study “End of the OTAmerchant model – This time for real”38.This trend is certainly in part responsible of the increase (+2%) of brand hotels’ directbookings in 2011, because hotels belonging to brands or chains usually provideattractive websites, entertaining blogs and dynamic activities on social media. As aresult, Max Starkov’s assumption in 2010 that “we should be witnessing a decline inthe indirect channel contribution” revealed true in 2011. Another trend in customers’ behavior is the quest towards a personalized pricethrough a personalized reservation system39. Before the web became social, peopleused to make hotel reservations mainly through OTAs. Years later, web users startedmaking only their first reservation on OTAs’ websites, then they would book directlywith the hotels for future venues. This is why we can assume that occasional travelerswill keep booking with OTAs (it is actually more convenient for packages) but on theother hand, regular travelers will get used to booking directly with hotels throughtheir websites, mobile apps or social media sites.c- The increase of mobile connected travelers Lastly, the Internet and mobile development have made travelers hyperinteractive, which results in more and more reservations made from mobile devices.                                                                                                                38  http://www.hebsdigital.com/blog/the-­‐end-­‐of-­‐the-­‐ota-­‐merchant-­‐model-­‐%E2%80%93-­‐this-­‐time-­‐for-­‐real/  39  http://www.tendancehotellerie.fr/articles-­‐breves/banque-­‐finances-­‐economie/2476-­‐article/le-­‐regne-­‐des-­‐otas-­‐a-­‐t-­‐il-­‐atteint-­‐son-­‐apogee     34  
  35. 35. Percentage of Travelers Using Mobile Phones to Access Internet for Travel Info By Google, The Traveler’s Road to Decision 2011, Study, July 201140Between 2009 and 2011, personal travelers using mobile phones increased 19 points(from 8% to 27%). Concerning business travelers, their number doubled in 2 years,reaching 51% in 201141.Note:Personal travelers: according to Google Think Travel, are people having taken at leastone trip for leisure in the past 6 months. In regard to the number of hotel reservations made from mobile devices in2011, about half the travelers (business & personal) now use these devices in a naturaland comfortable way, as it is through desktop computers or laptops.                                                                                                                40https://docs.google.com/gview?url=http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/insights/uploads/21396/&pli=1&chrome=true  41 https://docs.google.com/gview?url=http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/insights/uploads/21396/&pli=1&chrome=true     35  
  36. 36. Percentage of Travelers Using Mobile Devices for Travel-Related Activities By Google, The Traveler’s Road to Decision 2011, Study, July 201142This graph also shows that the number of travelers using mobile devices to check inhas increased (+ 6%) in one year. Mobile applications download also increased 6% aswell. As a result, it is important to point out that the investment in mobile optimizedwebsites and in mobile applications should be considered by hotels trying to boostdirect bookings. The priority is currently given to computer websites optimization, buthotels have to start thinking about mobile development and optimization as a nextstep. According to David Millili, CEO of Pegasus Solutions, the world leader intechnology and corporate services for the hospitality industry43, lately many hotelssaw an increase in voice bookings, which is in part due to the development of mobileapplications and mobile optimized websites44. Additionally, the popularity of mobile devices resulted in more and moreactivities from travelers on Social Media websites, especially Facebook and Twitter.This is why many booking engine applications are being developed on Facebook, andmore and more promotional offers are being posted on these social sites. They all areadditional opportunities for hotels to get direct bookings.                                                                                                                42https://docs.google.com/gview?url=http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/insights/uploads/21396/&pli=1&chrome=true  43  http://www.pegs.com/  44  http://www.tnooz.com/2012/07/02/news/what-­‐is-­‐new-­‐in-­‐hotel-­‐distribution-­‐not-­‐a-­‐lot-­‐actually/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Tnooz+%28Tnooz%29     36  
  37. 37. The online customers’ behavior is especially observed on Social mediawebsites, and from these observations, hotels and OTAs can adapt according totravelers’ needs and expectations. The graph below highlights the main social mediaactivities travelers enjoy the most. It also shows how social media activities influencethe consumers in their decision making process. Percentage of Travelers Using Social Media during their Travel Experience By Google, The Traveler’s Road to Decision 2011, Study, July 2011, Appendix 1645 The results on this graph show that almost half of travelers use social mediawebsites before, during and after their trips, which partially validates the hypothesisthrough which I expected that online consumers would more and more use socialmedia during their travel experience. As we don’t know if these figures will increase,the hypothesis can’t be totally validated. It can be noticed from the graph that there is not many differences in the use ofsocial medias between personal and business travelers, which is a good point forhotels in that their social media strategies will be effective for both type of guests.Another important point is the importance given to pictures and reviews. With the recent launch of Google+ Local (the merging of Google Places andGoogle+), Google announced that more visibility on search engines will be given toreviews and pictures. It can therefore be inferred that consumers’ behavior alsoinfluences search engine development. As a result, the level of customer engagementa hotel can get is an indication of its chance to increase its visibility on searchengines.                                                                                                                45https://docs.google.com/gview?url=http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/insights/uploads/21396/&pli=1&chrome=true     37  
  38. 38. To sum up, as OTAs made the most of the Internet at its early stage, they wereable to analyze and anticipate online customers’ needs and expectations. As timepassed, customers became more and more active online, which enabled OTAs to getspecialized and develop specific reservation sites for specific customers’ needs. Thiswhy, we saw the development of hotel booking sites (like hotels.com, HotelClub,booking.com, etc.), comparison websites (like hotelscombined, kayak, etc.), flashsales (Groupon, LivingSocial, etc.) or last minutes booking sites (likes hoteltonight,lastminutes.com). As a result, with the recent launch of Room Key and MyHotelBestRates (“anti-OTA reservation sites”, made on hoteliers’ initiative), we can notice that nowhoteliers start paying attention to customers’ behavior. Hoteliers indeed realized thatwhat customers want today is to start enjoying the hotel experience online, whichconsists in getting in touch with them directly.C- A more segmented online distribution channel1- Hotel Comparison Sites Comparison Sites exclusively for hotel rooms appeared around 2005 in order tomake it easier for web users to choose the right hotel for the best price among all theexisting OTAs. They obviously differ from travel comparison sites, such as Kayak orLiligo, that compare prices for hotels, flights, cars, etc. The newly hotel price comparison sites concept could not be ignored by OTAsbecause it was the opportunity to get even more visibility and additional chances tosell hotel rooms. However, price comparison sites increased the competition betweenOTAs and became an additional obstacle for hotels to get direct bookings.As time passes, price comparison sites are turning visual in an attempt to enhance thetravelers’ experience, and the competition is getting harder and harder among pricecomparison sites.Note:Hotelscombined was launched in 2005, Trivago in 2006 and Room77 in 2011.   38  
  39. 39. Home Page of Trivago’s Website (July 2012) By Emilie Alba, Home Page of Trivago’s Website, Screenshot, July 201246 Home Page of Hotels Combined’s Website (July 2012) By Emilie Alba, Home Page of Hotels Combined’s Website, Screenshot, July 201247 Home Page of Room77’s Website (July 2012) By Emilie Alba, Home Page of Room77’s Website, Screenshot, July 201248                                                                                                                46  http://www.trivago.com/  47  http://www.hotelscombined.com/     39  
  40. 40. When comparing the home pages of the main comparison sites, it can be noticed thatTrivago is the most overcharged site, Hotelscombined mainly attracts customers witha visible booking engine and many photos, and Room77 differs from the others with avisible booking engine and a strategic summer offer. As a result, it can be inferred that the customers’ need and expectations haschanged since 2005. Room77 has launched a better-adapted site than its competitors,by highlighting the simplicity of booking through a well-designed booking engine,and also the assistance of an online room concierge. The customers’ experience istherefore more complete.2- Online Travel Guides and Resellers From the years 2000, travel guide websites were being created to promotedestinations. As they were well designed and very visual, people spent time on themto look for holiday destinations. They also made themselves different from OTAs andother booking websites by choosing attractive names. For example, we can quote“Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and “Wanderfly”. Nothing in these names refers to booking orhotel. However, as they became popular they ended up displaying booking engines bypartnering either with hotels or OTAs.“Mr. & Mrs. Smith” became a specialist of boutique hotels, guesthouses and luxuryspa hotels. They never involved OTAs and take care to visit each accommodationstructure before accepting a membership. Partnering with “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” is awin-sin situation because the travel guide requests a 2 or 2.5% commission toaccommodations structures49. In addition, Travel guides and resellers’ website is generally fully optimized forvisibility, and inspires confidence and proximity with web users.The screenshot of “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” home page below highlights the elements thatmake the website’s strength.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            48  https://www.room77.com/  49  http://www.allaffiliateprograms.com/mrandmrssmith/     40  
  41. 41. Optimized Home Page of Mr. & Mrs. Smiths Website (July 2012) By Emilie Alba, Optimized Home Page of Mr. & Mrs. Smiths Website, Screenshot, July 201250Many hotel websites, especially independent hotel websites do not highlight all theelements framed in red on the screenshot, namely:- Business’ phone number, description, rewards, etc.- Booking engine, membership and social media boxes etc.As a result, people spend less than a minute on non-optimized web pages and go backon the search engine to click on another link, which most of the time belongs to anOTA51. Given the success of travel guides, OTAs indirectly found a way to position onthis channel as well. For example “Wanderfly”, unlike “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”, is a morecomplete travel guide that displays hotel and flight bookings, along with localrecommendations and all the possible leisure activities offered on each destination52.Wanderfly is also well designed and attractive but chose to partner with the pricecomparison site Hotelscombined to position on the hotel booking segment. Whensurfing the Wanderfly website, nothing indicates that Wanderfly usesHotelscombined’s platform. However when comparing the 2 platforms, we realizethat they are similar because it is indeed the same platform.                                                                                                                50  http://www.mrandmrssmith.com/us/  51  http://www.allaffiliateprograms.com/mrandmrssmith/  52  http://mashable.com/2012/03/07/wanderfly-­‐relaunch/     41  
  42. 42. Booking Platforms Comparison between Hotels Combined and Wanderfly (July 2012) By Emilie Alba, Booking Platforms Comparison between Hotels Combined and Wanderfly, Screenshot, July 201253It can be noticed that the two web pages are organized in the same way and provideexactly the same offers illustrated with the same pictures.The screenshots below compare the prices.                                                                                                                53  http://www.hotelscombined.com/,  http://hotels.wanderfly.com/     42  
  43. 43. Price Comparison on Hotels Combined and Wanderflys Booking Platforms By Emilie Alba, Price Comparison on Hotels Combined and Wanderflys Booking Platforms, Screenshot, July 201254It can be noticed from these screenshots that the prices are exactly the same. As aresult there is no doubt concerning Wanderfly’s partnership with Hotelscombined.                                             €q

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