It is true that some hoteliers are literally discriminating patrons by their booking channels. Sadly, this practice exists in the hospitality business. For some reason or another, in some cases, hotel guests who book through an online travel agency do not get the same ‘'attention'' and hospitality that a guest who booked his/her stay with a Tour Operator would have. OTAs tourists almost always come from different countries and places. In addition they usually book short-stay holidays, so in terms of return on investment this type of guest is relatively expensive.
For instance, hoteliers reserve the right, in case the hotel is overbooked to relocate OTA clients or even cancel their reservations without prior notice. After all if we lose the OTA, it's just a website, no big deal right?! This is probably what most hoteliers who are discriminating guests by their booking channel would say.
Obviously OTA clients pay much higher prices than guests who booked the ‘'traditional'' way. The online booking provider will charge the guest the actual room rate the hotelier requires plus at least 25% commission for the OBP and at least 20% GDS commission plus applicable taxes, which results in fairly expensive prices for travelers.
Managing online booking channels comes with a lot of challenges - Setting the correct room rates on different websites is still a complex task to undertake for independent hotels which don't have the essential expertise nor the qualified personnel. Not to mention the confusion for the reception staff OTAs create regarding who pays at the reception and who has already paid his stay through the travel agency's website.
In May 2011 Expedia Inc frankly pointed out that hotels "discriminate" against guests depending on the booking channel they used to book the hotel.
To set the record straight, the essence of the hotel business is ‘'Hospitality''. If hoteliers do miss out on this very particular element I believe they just lost their way worrying too much about immediate financial matters.
If guests who booked through an OTA have experienced a trouble free and enjoyable time during the two or three nights they spend in your hotel, they would come again and this time they would probably book the hotel directly by phone or via the hotel's website. Contrarily, if they felt discriminated against, they are definitely not going to come back whether with or without an online travel agency.
About Taoufik Haraketi
Taoufik Haraketi is a room reservations manager and blogger heavily involved in Hotel rooms revenue management and hotel online marketing. He holds a BBA Hotel & International tourism management from the American University of London. He is currently employed as a reservation manager at Caribbean World Hotels and Resorts in Tunisia.