Booking.com’s Hunger to become the worlds largest in hotel reservation website is continue to take a next step. During the past years, Booking.com (Priceline) acquired several companies for strategic interests. They have since returning these products to the market, targeting the hoteliers of the independent brands using the product called Booking Suite. Hotels can have their websites empowered with a booking engine from Booking.com or even have a complete website build. We have yet to see their product of Hotel Ninja’s, a Hotel Property Management System, to become part of this as well.
During 2015, Booking.com acquired Pricematch which is also becoming part of the Booking Suite product house, offering hotels tools to price your rooms daily with price recommendations based on the competitive set, booking pace, occupancy on the books and historical data. Hotels can experience the Shopper product already in their Booking.com Extranet, to deal with Rate disparity on the OTA websites.
The recently announced Chat function allows guests, which book via Booking.com website, to chat with the Hotel staff at any time, in their own language. The application is an extension of “Pulse”, a new announced application for Smart phone or Tablet, to manage booking “On the go” on your smart phone device. Empowering the chat function, allows reservation staff and frontdesk employees of hotels to deal with common questions and requests to enhance the guest experience pre arrival.
All these new technologies offered are of great importance simplifying the work for Hotel reservations, generating a stronger production and enhance guest communication. The Big Risk of these offerings is that all this data is moving over the OTA’s platform, creating a huge value to the mother company such as Price line which acquires not only guest information, but also the guests preferences. (Guest Rich Data) Hotels will, “unknowingly’, loose precious guest data to the Big Brand OTA’s, and it will become harder to maintain loyal guests, which will book direct. We can already see the increasing (double digit) growth of OTA’s market share in the hotels for 2015 and the reduction (or stagnation) of direct bookings. More and more travellers have app’s on their smartphone’s to book hotels and chat (at no costs) with each other.
As Priceline’s hunger is not stilled, they have even their eyes on the ever so populair travel site Tripadvisor. Acquiring this platform gives them access to a huge travel database, which nowadays communicate via their social media profile. Guest personalization and customized offers are key to drive a loyal market, acquiring these companies will get them much closer to the end consumer, your guest.
Hoteliers of the independent brands be warned, as your direct market is vanishing and moves into the hands of a commission based channels. Hoteliers should invest in their direct channel and invest in technologies that would maintain direct bookers to stay loyal. Your PMS holds lot’s of Guest “Rich” Data that can be used in targeted email campaigns and in social media campaigns. Online apps such as WCHAT, FB Messenger, WHATSAPP, are available at no charge to provide instant communication. Invest in online marketing tools to maintain your direct bookings!