The hospitality industry has to change its attitude towards online travel agencies (OTAs).
That was the verdict of David Allan, general manager Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront, who was speaking at BNC Publishing’s GM Leaders Conference in The St. Regis Dubai on Monday, 7 May.
“An OTA has never told me what rate we should at sell at unlike corporate purchasing department or wholesalers,” said Allan, speaking during a panel discussion.
“I think there needs to be a continued shift in the industry’s attitude to OTAs, it is not our most profitable business but it is definitely a channel that is worth using and is also definitely a channel that drives business to hotels.”
Also speaking on the same panel were Amro Khoudeir, director of digital & distribution and Excom-Y member, Movenpick Hotels & Resorts; Glenn Nobbs, general manager Copthorne Hotel Dubai and Mark Kirby, general manager Armani Hotel.
“There is always a challenge in keeping up with the OTAs and making sure they don’t steal too much of the business that you could have driven to your hotels anyway without high commission costs, it is more about a partnership,” said Khoudeir.
Nobbs said: “We would be foolish to ignore the fact that online reviews have been available since the year 2000.
“You have to adapt to how you handle both the positive and negative reviews and how you can build on it.”
Kirby said: “We are trying to get to a 100% response rate for reviews as it can only benefit the hotel and build trust with the customer.
“Customers need to see the hoteliers are caring and understanding, we have to make sure that we get to that 100% review response level.”
Allan added: “The growth in booking sites has been exponential in the last 12 years, as hoteliers we are past the tipping point.”