Adding flights - the next big shift in direct?

This week Marriott announced a partnership with Expedia to sell package deals directly on the Marriott website. This is part of a growing trend on hotel websites to allow guests to book flights as part of a direct booking. It means a better booking experience for guests - and helps hotels convert more bookings on their website.

"Vacations by Marriott" - brought to you by Expedia?

At first glance it seems a little paradoxical: A year ago, Marriott International and Expedia were at loggerheads over Marriott's #itpaystobookdirect campaign. Now, they are working together and improving the direct booking process. Dubbed the new "next generation partnership", this is undoubtedly a new landmark in the battle for direct bookings. (full timeline here

Here's how it works:

What's the worst thing about booking a trip? Effort. So much effort. We've all heard the stat about trawling through 38 websites in the holiday hunt, but did you realise that 40% bookers are keen to confirm hotel and flights in a single click? That's why this is the industry's next big step towards direct: by offering guests a complete holiday purchase in one place, a hotel is finally on a level playing field with OTA giants.

For evidence of this, take a peep at the booking process with Marriott: at every step, the direct channel is lauded: a slick, easy interface, 3 reasons to book direct on the loading page, reminders of savings possible through the Marriott reward schemes at every step.

A growing trend

Booking with flights is growing. Marriott's deal with Expedia is set to give guests access to over 475 airlines plus tours, local attractions and ground transport. And yet it's not entirely a new idea. In fact, several hotels have cottoned on to the one-stop-shop principle already: Barcelo are able to offer package deals courtesy of their partnership with Logitravel - and they're not alone. The trend has been spreading in the Caribbean over the course of the year. Another huge player are Mainstage Travel and their app, Hotel2020 - a flight technology system that enables hotels to sell flights and transfers natively through their own website. For free. Add in Marriott's front page presence, and the rest of the industry is sitting up and taking note.

What can you do to keep up with the curve?

Offering flights directly on the hotel website can do nothing but strengthen the booking journey. It's set to be the next big step for hoteliers determined to improve the guest experience and increase conversion. Whether it's by reaching out to Hotel 2020 today, by building links with local attractions that your guests might enjoy or by looking for that all-in-one deal that Marriott has found with Expedia, broadening the offer on your website is a real game-changer. Don't get left behind!

About The Author

All of our blogs are written in-house by the team to give you a mixture of news hot off the press, advice columns for hoteliers, and Triptease business news.