Last week, TravelClick released data from its TravelClick North American Distribution Review (NADR) revealing that during Q3 2011, hotel websites were the fastest growing booking channel for transient bookings. According to the firm, Brand.com bookings increased 6.1 percent from last year. In fact, one out of four room nights are booked through a hotel’s website, a trend that increased during every quarter of 2011, the firm said.
In an interview with Lodging, Tim Hart, executive vice president of business intelligence solutions for TravelClick, said he isn’t really surprised by the results of the data. “When we look at Brand.com, we’ve seen it growing its share of transient volume,” he said. “If we look at an even further trajectory, Brand.com has had its share of growth. It’s tapered off over the recent two years, but it still grows. It gets a little more share every quarter.”
According to Hart, much of Brand.com’s growth has come as voice reservations have fallen off. “The channel that is giving up ground in favor of Brand.com is the hotel’s own voice channel,” he said. “It’s more and more people moving to an online method. That’s a progression that will continue for some time. Voice is not irrelevant though. It remains a very important part of the contribution.”
In 2011, voice still accounted for nearly 17 percent of channel contribution. Meanwhile, online travel agencies (OTAs), such as Expedia, Priceline, and Travelocity, accounted for 11.2 percent of all hotel rooms booked, while global distribution system (GDS) used by travel agents accounted for 19.3 percent.
“I think the significance for the industry is that hotels are achieving their goal of moving customers online, their lowest cost channel,” Hart said. “It’s not a sea change. Little by little it’s progressing though.”
According to the NADR, OTA average daily rates (ADR) grew faster, relative to the prior year, than any other means of booking during the third quarter of 2011. “The OTAs have achieved the same growth, if not more, in terms of room nights year over year,” Hart said. “The OTA is growing along with the rest of demand in general.”
But there is one thing that is different, Hart said. “The OTAs’ average daily rates were up significantly in comparison to the same time last year,” he said. “Rates were up 4 percent in general for transient in Q3 2011 and the OTAs’ rates were up 12 percent. What that really says is that hotels are being successful in ensuring that rates coming through that channel are better than they have been in the past.
“Hotels now in a stronger demand environment are in a better position to limit the discounting coming through the OTA channel,” he continued. “It’s good for everyone.”