Member only rates on Metasearch

Member only rates published on Metasearch engines

Accept it. Play smarter.

Booking.com Genius (=member) rates published on Metasearch engines and another big headache for Hoteliers complaining about Booking.com not playing fair.

Nothing shocking to me.

Have you ever tried to become a member of potentially any membership program out there? Pick up one at your choice and it will just require a couple of minutes of your time to fill up a form with your basic information and email, to grant yourself access to member only deals. Right after the enrollment, most of the times you will access values and savings and “exclusive” rates like you have always been a loyal member!

Hotel chains have been showcasing member only rates savings for years: the great benefits that loyal customers and members can get access to by enrolling, is the core marketing message. Just enroll to access and book now (now) at the preferred member only great rates!

Wholesalers keep on selling BTC confidential net and unpackaged rates through new OTAs all the time. For sure you had them sign the contract clause that says that rates should be distributed only BTB. But that little travel agent on the other side of the world made it easier to re-distribute your wholesale rate through Amoma.

So called “private sales” are everything but private. Did you ever check the site holidaypirates.com? Your private sale probably ended up there.

Not to mention the member only discounts that online travel agents deduct from their own margin or commission in order to win the booking on the price war.

So before putting up a new fight… dear Hoteliers you should start accepting that everything that happens out there on the web is a consequence of your decisions. It is the result of your distribution choices, of the way you sell your products (=rooms) to the partners: rate parity is gone and competition at channel distribution level is fiercer than ever and is totally based on price.

Forget about what you consider to be fair as there is a subtle line diving fairness and cheating. Don’t you also invite OTA customers to cancel their reservation and book direct when you have the chance to talk to them on the phone? (we all do!) And the way you support the argument is by offering better rates in exchange.

So, sleep well tonight considering that you are the one that can make the Hotel move to the right direction on the distribution landscape. There are no evils and no saints as long as you accept that the rules of the game have changed.

Managing your distribution it is like holding different strings on a puppet, that you need to coordinate and balance to make the Hotel walk on the right path to drive revenue and optimize on costs.

You may want to pull some strings at times and leverage and drive specific channels like your direct ones on top! You may need to invest more money to bid in some periods; but you may want to release a bit in other periods and let other non-direct channels balance and fill up your rooms a little more because that’s probably the best way to increase revenue on that specific time (maybe to reach a customer base that you need but cannot reach by yourself).

The way you convert that new market from an OTA to your loyal customer booking direct the next time, is what will then make the difference.

There may be moments and specific market conditions when you will need to make (and you are already making I can tell) these kind of choices to move forward: so that member only deal, that private sale may be helpful to move to the next step towards your revenue optimization and increase.

So accept the change and the fact that we are living in a jungle of distribution channels and choose your battles: don’t forget to control, measure and adjust. Be ready for change, anticipate and adapt to change yourself.

[Originally posted on LinkedIn. November 28th, 2017]

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