Travel: Discount Sites vs. Brand Names

TravelCLICK reported last week that in its 2003 forecast for electronic hotel bookings, direct distribution through individual property or chain websites will be 1.5 times the size of the third party Internet marketplace.

While third party websites such as Priceline, Expedia and Orbitz will remain key sources of room nights, many hoteliers underestimate the importance of direct distribution through their own property or chain website.

"Hotels need to pay more attention to developing their direct online presence, not only because of the impressive size of this marketplace, but more importantly, property and chain sites represent the electronic channels with the lowest distribution cost," said Richard W. Gray, chairman and co-CEO of TravelCLICK.

In response to hotels' distribution and revenue management needs, TravelCLICK has launched a new division: TravelCLICK Interactive (TCI). This division is now assisting hotels, owners and management companies in online strategies to increase consumer direct business and accomplish lower distribution costs.

TravelCLICK Interactive guides hoteliers by pulling their interactive efforts together, starting with the Web site, booking engine, search engine optimization, pricing, targeted e-marketing capabilities, local account sales, and ongoing management services to maximize direct distribution and achieve higher revenue.

Ray Cohen, president and co-CEO of TravelCLICK, says that the name of the game is "how all the pieces work together. When these factors are well-orchestrated, the upswing drives two to five times more business directly through the property website."