Important Elements Of Under Scrutiny
“That’s the ultimate goal because, frankly, the goal of a travel agency is to solve customer problems and to remove friction from the travel process, which can be pretty daunting. And through technology we’re really one by one tackling all these friction points and enabling the customers to have a seamless experience.” And as seamless an experience Expedia wants to deliver to travelers, Ranque said it also seeks to do the same for its hotel partners. As much as Expedia sees hotels as “partners” there’s no denying that both entities are competitors when it comes to their respective platform strategies, and when it comes to driving bookings. Ranque, for one, sees the hotel brands’ effort to push direct bookings as an attempt to appeal to their owners. “I take the term ‘direct booking war’ and the whole vein in the industry around, ‘We want direct bookings and high repeat business,’ and I compare it to a very populist speech, just like in politics,” Ranque said. “It’s an easy thing to say that some people want to hear — not too sophisticated — and what happens usually in a populist election is the people who elect the person get very disappointed with the results because the reality is different from the simple idea of populism. And I think it’s a bit similar with direct booking wars.” And as much as the hotel industry bemoans having to use online travel agencies as a distribution channel, they are still the most “efficient channels” for acquiring first-time customers. “Those hotels that [offer their loyalty rates] on Expedia andHotels.com actually gain share over the ones that don’t,” he said, referring to Red Lion Hotels Corporation and Red Roof Inn. “The ones that don’t offer the loyalty rates to our customers, they tend to lose share versus the ones that do.
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