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Exclusive: Director Of Business Development at Baur au Lac speaks about OTAs

Alexander Gibb discusses the ways OTAs are adapting in response to external pressures and shares tips for effective OTA management.

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Exclusive: Director Of Business Development at Baur au Lac speaks about OTAs

The Direct Booking Summit: EMEA 2019 will be touching down in Paris on June 12-13.

In anticipation of what we expect to be the biggest Summit to date, we caught up with Alexander Gibb, Director Of Business Development, Baur au Lac. On Day One, Alex will join the panel of senior hoteliers to discuss the ways OTAs are adapting in response to external pressures and why that puts your parity under threat. Find out more about the panel Making their problems your problems: The changing world of OTAs and check the agenda here.

Alexander Gibb | Director Of Business Development | Baur au Lac

What are the biggest challenges that you face as Director Of Business Development in one of Zurich's top hotels?

A rapidly changing distribution landscape. Just look at how Google has recently changed the way guests search for hotels. For the customers, the search process became less time consuming, and it offers more possibilities, such as booking directly on the metasearch site. Hotels have to keep up with this sort of evolution.

Another challenge is technologies that work in silos. For example, our long-term partners in the B2B distribution are having trouble connecting to our global distribution system (GDS). That's why our Revenue Managers still have to spend time to manage distribution channels individually.

How does the rise of Booking.basic affect your hotels' direct business strategies?

We operate in a way that Booking.basic doesn't pose a problem for us, at least not yet. To distribute our rooms on Booking.com, we contact them directly to discuss our agreement - on our own terms.

To be honest, I can understand why an OTA initiative such as Booking.basic has emerged - there are still many hotels out there who have no control over their inventory, so OTAs see an opportunity to sell better rates to their customers if they find them elsewhere. Agoda has been selling B2B rates for years, so why would other OTAs like Booking.com miss out on this chance to win over a customer?

The only way to ensure your hotel is not negatively affected by such initiatives is to have full control of the way they distribute your room rates. That is something that I and hoteliers in senior positions at Great National Group and Barcelo Hotel Group will discuss during our panel at the Direct Booking Summit in Paris.

Together, we'll look at ways to get more control of your hotel's inventory and find best practices for adjusting your distribution channels accordingly.

How are your OTA management tactics different today than five years ago?

Ten years ago, hotels started to distribute their rooms on OTA websites. They gave out highly discounted rates, which has actually helped OTAs to grow and become so popular amongst today's digital customers. As well allotments where given and hotels have been bookable on OTA’s while no availability was displayed on the direct channels.

Then, hotels realised that they were losing their market share to OTAs. The Book Direct movement has emerged. It has been backed up by the big chains, such as Hilton and Four Seasons.

Eventually, hotels managed to improve parity with third parties. They were offering the same (or cheaper) rates on their own booking engines rather than offering discounted rates to OTAs. But OTAs have already had large budgets that allowed them to run promotional campaigns and integrate with advanced booking engine technology compared to hotels. That's why it will take a long time for hotels to recover and re-engage a great number of potential guests that were already lost to OTAs.

I personally think hotels should continue working with OTAs to get greater visibility in the markets where you don't have a strong presence. However, we much ensure that they, like all your partners, stick to an agreement they've had with you.

Join Alex and hundreds of fellow hoteliers during the Summit's two days of streamed talks, panels and workshops - as well as a legendary party.

Also, don't miss out on a one-on-one session with Triptease's Direct Booking Coaches taking place at the event. The sessions will focus on your hotel's website conversion rate optimization. To book a consultation with a Coach, register your interest here.

See the Direct Booking Summit: EMEA 2019 agenda.

Book your spot at the Summit on 12-13 June in Paris.

About The Author

Alisa is Triptease's brand guardian. She speaks four languages and uses them to interview thought leaders and write articles for the industry.

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