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Insights from Hoteliers on the Battle between Direct Booking and OTA

Hoteliers Opinions on the Direct Booking vs. OTA Debate, In today's tech-savvy world, direct booking is like homemade food – it's preferred by many. We gathered insights from industry experts on the ongoing battle between direct

Hoteliers Opinions on the Direct Booking vs. OTA Debate,

In today’s tech-savvy world, direct booking is like homemade food – it’s preferred by many. We gathered insights from industry experts on the ongoing battle between direct booking and OTA.

Founder & CEO, Signum Hotels and Resorts

‘Direct bookings and online travel agencies (OTAs) have been a hot topic in the Indian hospitality sector. Direct bookings help hotels avoid commission fees, retain control over pricing, and establish a direct relationship with guests. OTAs provide wider reach, invest heavily in digital marketing, and offer discounts and rewards programs. To strike a balance, hoteliers need to leverage OTAs’ marketing power to attract new customers while encouraging direct bookings to build customer loyalty and retain a higher percentage of revenue.’

Managing Director & CEO, Eight Continents Hotels & Resorts

Direct bookings offer better profit margins for hotels, while OTAs provide wider visibility. It’s a strategic choice influenced by factors like commission fees, brand control, and customer relationships. The preference between direct booking and OTAs depends on the specific goals and priorities of each hotel or accommodation provider. Direct bookings often yield higher profits and better customer relationships, while OTAs offer broader exposure and access to a diverse audience. Striking a balance or employing a hybrid approach can be an effective strategy for many establishments.

Founder, Stotrak Hospitality

“In Stotrak Group properties we have an average of 60% guests booking directly with us, 20% trust OTAs to book the rooms and about 20% through our travel agent network.

The first year we saw the trend at 15% through OTA which now has grown up to 20% and for the coming year our annual budgeting has 30% as our target from the Online presence”.

Joint Managing Director of MBD Group (Radisson Blu MBD Noida Hotel)

“At Radisson Blu MBD Noida, we have experienced the transformative impact of direct bookings. While OTAs play a crucial role in attracting a wider audience, it’s essential to strike a balance between utilizing third-party channels and maximizing the benefits of brand websites. Our commitment to cultivating direct relationships with our guests has proven valuable. Despite OTA reservations constituting approximately 30%, our steadfast initiatives have successfully elevated direct bookings to an impressive 45%. For a brand like ours, Direct bookings give us the opportunity to directly connect and deliver the best value, which no other channel can give. Direct bookings give us the opportunity to customize experiences, extend exclusive offerings, and build authentic connections. This not only helps our business but is clearly seen in the happy faces of our valued guests.”

Sr. Vice President – Sales & Marketing, The Fern Hotels & Resorts

“At The Fern Hotels & Resorts, we prioritize guest empowerment. Whether booking directly for tailored perks & curated offers or through our OTA partners for wider accessibility, our commitment is delivering exceptional experiences at great value. Guests have the freedom to shape their stay as they wish, ensuring convenience without compromising personalized service.” said Noshir A Marfatia, Sr. Vice President – Sales & Marketing, The Fern Hotels & Resorts.

Vice President Hospitality & Commercial Brigade Group

“Direct channels offer advantages including increased customer loyalty and better hospitality experiences, while OTAs play a crucial role by reaching out to a larger audience and targeting a wider net of travellers. Brigade Hospitality believes implementing a balanced approach between direct bookings and OTAs can optimize occupancy levels.”

General Manager, Holiday Inn Cochin

‘In today’s interconnected digital world, optimizing inventory distribution is crucial for hotel success. OTAs provide visibility with large marketing budgets but come at a cost. Direct bookings are cost-efficient and profitable. For a successful business hotel like Holiday Inn Cochin, balancing and strategizing both channels is essential for leveraging all opportunities and maximizing revenues.’

General Manager, Eros Hotel, New Delhi

The choice between direct bookings and bookings through Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) has distinct implications for our property since we are a stand alone 5 star property. Direct bookings often result in higher profit margins as they avoid commission fees, allowing us  to establish a direct relationship with guests, implement loyalty programs, and maintain brand control. We do an avergae of 66% direct room nights while the OTA contribute 34% to our revenue bank.  However, attracting direct bookings involve higher marketing costs (Advertisnig / digital presence etc). On the other hand, OTAs provide us with a broader audience, convenience for travelers, and quicker bookings. Yet, the commission fees charged by OTAs (approx 18% per booking) can significantly impact a our overall profitability / GOP. Also, we may have limited direct interaction with guests, hindering the establishment of a more personalized connection. Striking a balance between both channels is a common strategy that we engage enabling us to maximize their reach and revenue while effectively managing costs and maintaining control over their brand.

General Manager, Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach

“In the hotel industry, direct bookings are preferred for fostering loyalty and avoiding high OTA commissions. Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach incentivizes this through loyalty programs. However, OTAs remain vital due to their vast customer reach and diverse services. Hotels must balance nurturing OTA relationships while enhancing direct booking strategies.”

General Manager, Angsana Oasis Spa and Resort

“We prioritize direct bookings, ensuring transparency and offering the best prices and benefits. While engaging with OTAs and technology, our focus remains on direct channels, delivering an exceptional experience. A small guest percentage uses OTAs for rewards, but our main business thrives on direct bookings, fostering direct communication and memorable experiences.”

Cluster Revenue Director for Sheraton Grand Pune & Le Meridien Mahabaleshwar

In the continuously evolving hospitality sector, we skillfully navigate the ongoing dynamic between direct bookings and online travel agencies (OTAs). While prioritizing the importance of direct bookings, enabling control over inventory, pricing, and guest experiences to cultivate loyalty; we also do recognise the role of OTAs in global marketing, we advocate for a strategic balance, leveraging both channels for optimal outcomes. Our commitment involves investments in user-friendly platforms and adaptability to industry trends, recognizing the necessity to harmonize direct bookings and OTAs for success in the ever-changing hospitality landscape.

General Manager of Sales, Sayaji Hotels

At Sayaji Hotels, we strategically prioritize a harmonious balance in guest bookings. We perceive OTAs as integral brand-building tools, leveraging their growing visibility. With a legacy of devoted guests, strengths in personalized service and relationship management, our integrated property management system ensures a balanced approach to sales and distribution. This allows us to capitalize on the best of both worlds. With an ambitious expansion plan for next financial year, we are committed to expanding our presence nationwide and growing our guest database.

Director of Sales & Marketing, Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort & Spa, Mahabalipuram

“OTAs enhance the visibility of our property, contributing significantly to its viability. While our primary aim is to attract bookings directly through our website, Marriott.com, the added visibility from OTAs is undoubtedly beneficial. Although OTAs involve substantial marketing expenditures, they are instrumental in extending our reach. Despite this, we strive to leverage OTAs to the advantage of both our property and the chain. To ensure fairness for our guests, we maintain rate parity, ensuring that prices remain consistent across both direct and OTA channels.” Said Gaurav Ganapathy, Director of Sales & Marketing.

Director of Sales & Marketing, Crowne Plaza Ahmedabad City Centre

In the digital age of travel planning, the clash between Direct Booking and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) has hoteliers like me pondering the best approach to attract guests. Direct Booking is like a home-cooked meal – it’s personalized, direct, and fosters a closer connection with guests. On the flip side, OTAs are like a global buffet, offering exposure to a vast array of potential customers. But the battle is real – balancing the cost of commissions with the benefits of increased visibility is a constant challenge. I’ve found that a hybrid strategy works best – encouraging direct bookings for loyal guests while leveraging OTAs for reaching new audiences. It’s a delicate dance in the hotel industry, where personalized service meets global reach, and finding the right mix is the key to winning this ongoing battle.

Director of Revenue, Holiday Inn New Delhi International airport

In the heated Direct Bookings Vs. OTA battle, Holiday Inn New Delhi International Airport – an IHG hotel strategically leverage their brand power. The revamped loyalty program, IHG One Rewards and the advanced mobile app streamlines booking experience. While OTA presence remains inevitable but with robust loyalty initiatives, we have achieved a notable 60% digital & 48% GOP growth Year on Year.

Director of Revenue, Novotel Kolkata Hotel & Residences, Accor

Following COVID-19, the relevance of Direct and Indirect channels has surged. Direct Booking, fuelled by Accor Live Limitless loyalty members, ensures sustained growth, exclusive deals, and stay points. Concurrently, sponsored ads on various OTA channels are crucial for Indirect Bookings. Our challenge is harmonizing both, with a focus on nurturing ALL loyalty bookings to drive more direct bookings at Novotel Kolkata Hotel & Residences.

Director of Sales, Sheraton Grand Palace Indore

Finding the sweet spot between direct bookings and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) paves the way for a winning strategy. Direct bookings foster meaningful connections and reduce commission costs, while OTAs contribute to heightened visibility. Executing a well-rounded plan involves optimizing specific OTAs, channeling traffic to direct platforms, and leveraging pricing, special offers, and incentives to amplify both direct bookings and overall revenue. This proactive approach strives to achieve peak financial performance while ensuring a positive and seamless booking process for guests.

Director of Sales & Marketing, InterContinental Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort

“Hotels navigate the challenge of optimizing revenue from OTAs while cultivating direct bookings to fortify guest relationships. Elevating online reservations is strategic, influencing brand perception and delivering a flawless guest experience. The pursuit of sustainable revenue and brand prominence aligns with hotels strategically emphasizing direct reservations, recognizing the indispensability of both OTA and direct booking approaches in this ongoing battle.”

Resident Manager at Royal Heritage Haveli, Khatipura – Jaipur

OTAs contribute about approximately 30% to our revenue. They have provided us with a global platform and a wider audience.
Direct bookings contribute 20% to our revenue. We have direct contact with the guest and can tailor the services. The profit margin is higher in direct bookings, as the commission is not involved.
With OTA bookings, we can’t give immediate solutions to issues such as modifications, cancellations, or any other guest request. Guest and the hotel route everything through the OTA, which delays the process.
Direct bookings may have a limited reach and but do help in maximizing our revenue.

Director of Revenue, Hyatt Regency Pune Hotel & Residences

At Hyatt Regency Pune Hotel & Residences, we view the clash between direct booking and OTA not merely as a battle of channels but as a curated harmony. It’s a symphony where autonomy elegantly meets visibility, crafting an unparalleled hospitality experience for our esteemed guests

Director of Sales, Courtyard by Marriott, Pune Chakan

We leverage Marriott’s ‘Best Rate Guarantee’ to secure the most competitive prices for retail queries, on our official website. The incorporation of Marriott Bonvoy preferred rates on our brand website has significantly contributed to the continued growth of business on the Brand website. We however continue to maintain seamless connectivity with online travel partners, optimizing inventory and availability as they are equally important for us.

Director of Sales and Marketing at The Westin Pune Koregaon Park

“Capturing a 16.7% share of digital room nights, our direct bookings not only thrive in the market, but also are the perfect opportunity for the hotel to highlight exclusive offers and benefits. Fostering OTA partnerships helps us expand our reach to previously untapped audiences. A fine balance between the two, extends our presence in the competitive hospitality landscape.”

Head of Sales, Leisure Hotels Group

“The hospitality sector engages in an ongoing competition, juggling the personalized touch of direct bookings for intimate guest connections with the wide-ranging impact of online travel agents aiming to reach a global audience. For Leisure Hotels Group, OTAs are an integral part of the distribution system delivering healthy contributions. In this dynamic environment, we carefully manage to strike the right balance between enhancing profit margins and ensuring visibility, all while maintaining our brand narrative across all channels.”

Director of Sales & Marketing, Grand Hyatt Gurgaon

“Navigating the dynamic landscape of hotel bookings calls for a nuanced approach. While direct bookings strengthen brand loyalty and save on commissions, online portals amplify visibility and cater to a diverse digital audience. Striking a harmonious balance between the two is essential for maximizing reach and capitalizing on the vast opportunities presented by the digital world.”

Director of Sales & Marketing, Le Meridien Gurgaon

“Cultivating a more personalized guest experience, direct bookings stand out with exclusive perks such as tailored rewards, superior amenities, and a focus on fostering guest loyalty and trust in the brand. While OTAs excel in expansive reach and centralized marketing, direct bookings prioritize establishing trust between guests and hotels. They guarantee optimal rates and offer flexible modifications and hassle-free cancellations, ensuring a seamless and gratifying guest journey.”

Director Sales & Marketing Park Hyatt Chennai

Every corporation will always be partial to platforms directly associated with their brands. It is for this reason that companies like Hyatt invest on content and optimization for our hotel website. There is no denying the fact that the OTA reach currently is still with a wider audience, however that share is consistently reducing but can never fully be replaced for what an OTA delivers in terms of choice for a traveler.

Front Office Manager, Meluha The Fern An Ecotel Hotel, Powai, Mumbai

We at the Meluha, The Fern encourage guests to directly book from our website. As a part of the Fern group of hotels, we have a very robust online booking system where we generate a lot of business. Besides we have a dedicated reservation team that also handles the calls from the guests. It also helps us in having more control over the entire booking process, including pricing, customer service, and data collection. It also eliminates commission fees paid to OTAs.

Head of Revenue, South India, Hilton Bangalore

“At Hilton, We endeavor to leverage our captive and external distribution channels and partners and work in tandem to capitalize on opportunities to augment channel wise market share. Through various parameters, an optimized distribution will be the one that harmonizes rates and traffic volume across channels to deliver results.”

Commercial Manager, Hilton Garden Inn New Delhi/Saket

“At HGI Saket, we work closely with both Direct as well as OTA partners.

While OTAs help us drive consistent market share on the other end, direct bookings pave way for loyalty and building guests’ lifetime value.

With help of Hilton Honors our loyalty program, we have managed to increase our direct bookings over past 12 months without losing our OTA fair share.”

AGM- Revenue Management, Mayfair Hotels and Resorts

At MAYFAIR Hotels & Resorts, we optimize direct bookings through our website, featuring unique natural surroundings in short guest experience videos. With Google services integration in META, a Best Rate Guarantee, and tactical brand campaigns, we encourage pre-purchase with coupons and reward loyalty. Future plans include AI-driven custom itinerary promotions for visitor-to-buyer conversion.

Director of Revenue, Radisson Blu Hotel Pune Kharadi

In the continuous battle between direct booking and OTAs, hotels emphasize personalized perks, loyalty benefits, and competitive rates to elevate guest experiences. In contrast, OTAs underscore their global reach, diverse choices, and seamless booking processes. While hotels aim for augmented revenue through direct bookings, OTAs present arguments centered on increased visibility and broader booking prospects in the competitive hospitality arena.


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