From the rise of Roomkey to Google’s foray onto the travel scene, OTAs face many challenges. However, rather than worrying about suppliers that are attempting to go direct or how exciting start-ups are going to shape up, Expedia & Co. should focus on refining their offering.
1. Mobile and Tablet Mobile bookings will continue to grow as a channel. These devices are already used more than fixed desktop in the searching, investigating and dreaming stages of ‘pre-buying’. With tablets, in particular, many developments have made it a lot easier for customers to transact. It won’t just be last-minute bookings, the mobile solution will in the next two to three years overtake the PC as the preferred tool on which to book, particularly as sites increasingly have mobile friendly versions.
2. Search This is becoming more socially important rather than being only keyword focused. OTAs should look to compare how keywords and search trends are very different on mobile or tablet vis-a-vis desktop. Google Hotels is now alone pushing into the UK and NZ markets and could be the biggest competitor of OTAs going forward.
3. Payment –The popularity of single use credit cards, designed to cut out fees for hoteliers, should not be overlooked. Also, looking at Expedia’s Traveller Preference programme, there is the importance of giving the customer a choice in how and when they pay for their booking to consider. Expanding on payment is instant pay (with smartphone). It is very important from the hotel perspective that they adapt accordingly. Moving forward, OTAs will also need to provide a full range of payment options such as adaptability to Passbook.
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