Since we launched Price Check in February 2015, we’ve seen the market explode with a desire for showing OTA prices directly on the hotel website. All around the web, widgets are popping up to demonstrate how the direct price compares.
It’s been great to witness all that growth. It confirms two things we at Triptease know to be true:
- This is the year of direct bookings
- Price Check has a real impact on hotel conversions
Soon, we predict, almost every hotel will have a price comparison tool on their website.
Now that a number of vendors offer this kind of service, it’s important to understand what the different solutions actually deliver and how Price Check stands apart.
The channel manager approach
One option is to take OTA rates from a hotel’s channel manager or central reservation system. It seems simple: you already have the data, why not use that? However, this comes with some hidden challenges:
- Many hoteliers, especially smaller hotels, tell us that they frequently go directly to some of the key OTA partner systems when updating rates, meaning that the correct rate is not up-to-date in the CRS and inaccurate rates would be shown.
- Even if rates are only ever updated in the CRS/channel manager, we find that the actual rate shown on the OTA can sometimes differ – in fact, on average we have seen that in practice hotel rates are undercut by OTAs 27% of the time. This can happen for a number of reasons, for example if an OTA forgets to apply tax or uses a different currency exchange rate.
This is why we built our solution to do a live check of the rates shown by OTAs. Just using the channel manager is like having Price Check without the Check.
The double agent approach
Another option for hotels is to implement a price comparison widget that links out to the OTA websites. I know it sounds a little crazy, but we’ve actually seen a few hotels try this out.
Tools like this are often being offered free to hotels. Why? Because in effect, it’s an OTA advertising tool. The OTAs are paying the company to put links on the hotel website to drive people back to...you guessed it; the OTAs.
The long term implications of this? You’d expect any company whose revenue is based on clicks out to the OTAs to be constantly optimizing their product to this end. By contrast at Triptease, with Price Check and our other tools we spend all day creating and refining tools to increase direct bookings.
For example, we work out which OTAs to show each site visitor, based on both the hotel and visitor’s locations. We also allow you to display additional key benefits of booking direct. Like all our tools, Price Check continues to evolve as we optimize it to drive more and more direct bookings.
The 'cheap and cheerful' approach
Price Check looks simple on the surface (we designed it to look that way) so it should be no surprise that there are copycat solutions now on the market which look similar. But if it’s cheap and cheerful, you should take care to check what you’re actually getting.
Accuracy is crucial: we know many users who see a price comparison widget for the first time will go to the OTAs to double-check the rate themselves, before they rely on the widget prices in future. Cheap and cheerful providers are achieving accuracy rates of around 40-50%, so when a guest double-checks a rate it’s more likely than not they’ll find it to be inaccurate. This will create a lack of faith in the hotel website itself, damage your brand, and cause conversion to actually decrease in the long term.
You should also be concerned about the vendor’s ability to invest in improving the service in future. Triptease is a SaaS (Software as a Service) business where the tools are being continually improved, all with the goal of constantly increasing your conversion.
Perhaps most importantly, we understand that price comparison is most effective when combined with effective revenue management. Our dashboards capture search details in real-time when a direct rate has been undercut so the hotelier can immediately address it with the OTA in question and remove the disparity. We have seen that reducing disparity can double website conversion rates. A solution that doesn’t address this is only fighting half the battle.
In addition, we offer a growing suite of tools that offer the greatest returns when used together. For example, while Price Check reassures visitors to your booking engines, our Enchantment Messaging allows you start delivering key messages to website visitors from the moment they hit your homepage, reducing abandonment and increasing direct revenue.
At Triptease we believe that direct is best. We are proud to work with over 8,000 hotels and ask ourselves every day what we can do to increase bookings for our customers. If you’d like to learn more about The Triptease Difference, do get in touch.