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The tools and techniques that are in play for the distribution of hotel accommodation have changed out of all recognition to pre-internet days. Back then many hotels were heavily reliant on their wholesaler or tour operator relationships to extend their reach into worldwide markets. Those intermediaries that had built up a strong market presence could force generous commission terms from hotels.
With the advent of the internet era there was much talk of disintermediation. The world wide web would provide hotels with a platform to sell direct, blowing apart the intermediary model. Here was a technology that would allow hoteliers to reach out across the world themselves, so cutting out the middlemen.
For many hoteliers this simply has not happened. Instead they have seen new intermediaries entering the market, primarily the online travel agents. The OTAs deploy massive marketing budgets which have allowed them to gain a high level of market dominance. In Europe, for example, Priceline owned booking.com is reputed to have a 41% share of online travel. Expedia is reckoned to have over 20% of the market. When it comes to negotiating commission levels the OTAs market power must surely disbenefit hotels.
However, there are other new entrants moving into hotel distribution. The channel managers that offer hotels the opportunity to distribute across many online outlets all from one connection, the meta-channel managers that will connect hotels to more than one channel manager, the ultra-last minute mobile players and, recently into the fray, comes meta-search.
Meta-search is seen as an opportunity for hotels to once again sell direct or perhaps it is just another channel that needs its commission?
How does the recent judgement on best rate guarantees affect the marketplace?
Are intermediaries the hotel's friend or enemy?
These questions and many more were addressed by our expert speakers. They are all hotel distribution specialists and represent four different aspects of hotel distribution.
The subject has become frighteningly complex yet, whatever sector of travel you represent, it is vital for you to know what is happening.
This Forum was held jointly between Travel Technology Initiative and European Tour Operators Association.
To download the presentation - click on the speaker's name.
For a copy of the programme - click here
For a copy of the final delegate list - click here