The GTMC has launched an attack on the hotel industry’s high profile campaigns to promote direct selling.

The travel organisation said the tactic of hotels targeting travellers direct with incentives such as free wifi and loyalty points “undermines” the B2B market and corporate buyers’ “desires and expectations”.

“On behalf of Travel Management Companies (TMCs) we’re asking hotels to be clearer about where their frustrations lie,” GTMC chief executive Paul Wait said. 

A study published this week from Concur and GBTA found business travellers are increasingly booking direct with suppliers.

Over the past few years a number of hotel chains have offered travellers ‘rewards’ but only if they make bookings direct on their website. Buyers are against this practice as they often have negotiated rates based on guaranteeing a number of stays throughout the year and it can lead to compliance issues.

“The hotel industry created a problem that led to the growth of OTAs and their constant undercutting of hotel website prices,” said GTMC chief executive Paul Wait. “As a way of competing with this, many hotel brands have added benefits and price advantages into direct sell channels only, without taking into consideration the impact on the B2B channel customers. Business travellers need to be valued too and not miss out on added-value incentives.” 

He said the “blunt approach” from hotels to solving a problem is creating dissatisfaction with buyers and TMCs.

“We’re urgently calling for hotel brands to understand that not all distribution channels are the same, and that TMCs provide both a valuable service and important revenue,” said Wait. “We urge hotels to consider a simpler method such as reducing supply to the OTA’s and taking a more specific and targeted action that does not affect the corporate buyer.

“Direct sell is not the only route to success for hotel businesses. Hotels are in danger of destroying their relationships with TMCs. In trying to reduce reliance on OTAs, hotels are being short sighted in not embracing the other channels that often bring higher value rates. That just doesn’t make good business sense.”

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