Dear OTAs,

 

As ex-hoteliers that first used your platforms when you were young startups much like we are today, we recognise that you once changed our industry for the better. We can’t think of a single hotelier that hasn’t benefited from using your services.

Before you came along, large hoteliers would be forced into an annual dance with wholesalers over what price to set and, more often than not, would get bullied into discounting from year to year. Small hoteliers used to be held hostage to even more obscure forces, including navigating the murky GDS network or finding those rare travel agents with a personal soft spot for the hotel or it’s location. In other words, we would hand over inventory for a vague sense of stability. But then you came along and helped free us of that yoke...

For customers, the change has been no less dramatic: a curated menu of destinations at one’s fingertips that no travel agent could ever offer and improved visibility regarding the levels of service or the experience to expect upon arrival.

 

 

Sadly, those halcyon days are over and you have changed. As you gradually transition from benign disruptors to, for want of a better description, an entrenched oligopoly, we feel you are no longer the good guys. There are newer kids on the block with more progressive and community-centric spirits like AirBnB and Google, as well as exciting innovators like Winding Tree who are leveraging blockchain technology.

Thanks to eye-opening tools from the likes of Triptease and HotelChamp, we can’t help but notice that you’re now selling at below the rates that we had agreed on, employing questionable 'security' measures in order to deprive our own CRMs of invaluable customer data and persist with the frustrating tactic of 'name squatting' on property keyword names in order to prevent users from booking direct.

We kindly implore you to make some changes so that we can fall in love with you again:

 

- Be transparent. Split out your numbers and give us an idea of how you enticed our customers. What percentage was through advertising based on our property’s keywords or from direct searches within your platform?

- Lower your commissions. You now possess impressive override features so, perhaps, drop your basic commission to 5 percent and allow us to trigger higher commissions. The overall boost to your revenue will prove much bigger than you think.

- Open up about those virtual cards. Tell us what those extra interchange fees will be from the issuers, whether we can get a cut of them along with you and whether it will be easy for us to opt-out.

- Help us get better at marketing using your data and API. You have some of the most complex hotelier data out there and it would really help us in our respective markets. You could even reveal what kind of content actually works and what does not.

- Let us have a healthier slice of the direct booking pie. You are a duopoly now so why not tweak those T&Cs and let us offer different rates on our own websites.

- Stop using anonymous email addresses for guests. They pollute hotel guest profile databases and stop us being able to recognise returning customers, enable mobile key access or allow kiosk check-in.

- Rate parity means rate parity. So stop offering discounted rates to anyone who signs in to your website using their Facebook account.

 

 

In summary, we don’t want to feel like you’re commoditising us. We would rather you helped us champion our unique qualities and empower us to become better hoteliers. The best companies grow by listening to their partners. It’s never too late to change...

 

Yours sincerely,

 

The ex-hoteliers behind Mews.


 

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