It’s going to happen – eventually.
As many of the major hotel chains have begun to offer loyalty program members who book directly on their own websites lower rates than they distribute to online travel agency and metasearch sites, as well as traditional travel agencies, the pleas for change are already mounting.
And on Thursday TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer gave notice that he would like those special hotel rates and can envision a model where he can get them.
Why A Few Bucks or Euros Here and There Is So Important
These direct-booking rates from hotels for loyalty program members usually amount to a mere few dollars in savings – perhaps a $208 nightly rate for two double beds instead of $212 – but it’s apparent from the history of online travel and distribution that such discounts can be very meaningful in triggering share shift.
That’s why online travel agencies such as Priceline.com, for example, began eliminating booking fees for airline tickets in 2007 because the pricing difference was pushing travelers to book on airline sites instead.
Online travel agencies and metasearch engines today desperately want to get access to these lower rates from hotels. If you look at hotel pricing in TripAdvisor, Kayak and Google, there are indeed pricing differences but so many times all of the distributors are providing the same hotel rates.