Attempts to drive bookings online are paying off for hotels, the Phocuswright Europe conference was told.
Mark Lomanno, of Kalibri Labs, said attempts to use loyalty programmes to change consumer behaviour and increase direct bookings were at “early stages”.
“For the first time since we have started collecting data in the last few months of 2016 the number of people booking on brand.com was higher than on OTAs,” he said.
Loyalty is up and distribution costs are down but the question remains about lifetime loyalty of customers attracted by discounts.
“Will they [hotels] stay with it long enough? Will there be other incentives? The jury is out on that. It’s a really good start but it’s just a start.”
Lennert De Jong, of citizenM Hotels, questioned the value of offering “dirty incentives” to customers to stay at the group’s “beautiful hotels”.
He said it didn’t want to be the Samsung of the hotel sector preferring instead for customers to pay more for the brand.
CitizenM did launch its own closed user group programme in response to booking.com’s Genius programme offering to match the price and a free drink.
Google’s Terri Scriven said there are techniques enabling hotels to act more like and be sophisticated as OTAs in terms of consumer targeting and efficiency.