Hotels that use direct channels to promote lower rates risk harming their brand, the world’s largest accommodation-only OTA Booking.com told this week’s Phocuswright Europe conference.
Peter Verhoeven, global director partner services at the Priceline-owned retailer, said the site will always fight to bring the best prices in the market to its users.
He said no hotels providers are forced to work with Booking.com and understood the advantages, although he admitted there is always friction because they want bookings to come direct.
Verhoeven was speaking after criticism of the increasing cost of OTA distribution and high profile campaigns by the likes of Hilton and Accor to encourage customers to book direct.
“If you are offering consumers different prices for the same product on different sites you might suffer in terms of credibility of your brand.
“Not all brands are doing it. Bigger groups we work with do not do this. There are some who will experiment with this but we will always fight for the best prices for our customers.
“It’s important to show to our customers those brands that give the best prices. We have a best price guarantee and we need to back that up.
“We see even in markets where regulation of price parity is no longer applicable like France and Germany a majority of entrepreneurs make the choice to give the best prices to us.
“We will fight to show our customers product with great prices, great quality and great review scores. Today we work with all the main [hotel] chains, no one is forced to work with us.
“We only ask them to give us access to the best rates publically available. There is always tension and friction there. I understand hotels want direct bookings.”
Verhoeven said hotel partners and Booking.com had open and honest dialogue about them offering special non-public rates to closed user group loyalty scheme members.
But he said Booking.com invests in technology to offer customers shopping for hotel rooms the best experience and to drive business to its hospitality partners.
“The more interesting debate is about the price and distribution,” he said. “There is no direct and indirect.
“We have business to acquire. We have to pay Google. As long as we have return on investment we are neutral about it.”