The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) has launched its long-awaited 'Search Smarter' campaign - and it isn't pulling any punches.

The campaign takes aim at Priceline and Expedia's 'hidden duopoly', revealing that 74% of consumers have no idea that the two companies control around 95% of the online travel agency marketplace.

The campaign also emphatically lays out the arguments for booking directly with a hotel. "Booking through digital middle men can lead to false choices and ruined vacations," says the Association. "Booking directly with the hotel or a trusted travel agent is the safest way to go."

The twenty 'postcards' that the AHLA have produced to illustrate the Search Smarter campaign are smart, readable, and illuminating - and hopefully will go some way towards persuading the travelling public that direct really is best. They make a point of emphasising that OTAs are only interested in the point of transaction, whereas hotels are in the 'business of hospitality' - and will take care of the stay from beginning to end.

The AHLA's campaign will be a welcome boost to hoteliers still struggling to stem the tide of bookers heading to OTAs. We hope consumers take the message on board.

"You're not purchasing a commodity... you're investing in an experience. Let the experts handle it, from start to finish."

Take a look at the AHLA's campaign video here:

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