EDITORIAL. Booking and other Expedia reduced to the role of comparators?

In five years, the share of travelers booking directly with European hoteliers has jumped 40%, according to research firm Coach Omnium. In other words, Internet users tend to use OTAs to choose an establishment, thanks to the powerful search engines of these platforms, before going to the hotel’s website. If the price is more attractive, they then make the reservation directly. Booking and other Expedia are thus reduced to a role of comparators. This deprives them of valuable intermediation commissions…

What has changed in recent years is the behavior of the traveler, but also the digital maturity of travel providers. Many hoteliers and airlines have invested heavily in the digitalization of their services. Especially on mobile, to be within easy reach of everyone. And mobile users no longer hesitate to buy directly.

So are the online booking giants in jeopardy? No worries for them, at this stage, as evidenced by their financial results. Even over the past year, still branded by the Covid-19.

What has changed in recent years is the behavior of the traveler, but also the digital maturity of travel providers.

Across all of its activities, Booking Holdings generated global revenue of $10.96 billion in 2021… Expedia, $8.6 billion, for global sales of $72 billion. The two American giants have been making good progress since 2019. But, in the medium term, they remain more vulnerable than in the past. Especially since the Internet user is a chronic infidel, ready to change dairies to save two euros… And he knows that hoteliers can sometimes offer lower rates than those displayed on OTAs, which was not the case before 2015.

It’s no coincidence that, cautiously, Expedia sees more opportunities in B2B than in B2C. “Expedia has become a leading technology company, with thousands of engineers and data specialists,” explained Greg Schulze, senior VP, Strategic Travel Partners of the Expedia group, to us in the spring. And, not stupid, the group is preparing a cross-brand loyalty program.

As for Google, it is stopping its “Book on Google” button for flights and hotels. Something to surprise more than one travel operator… A little flashback: with the acquisition of the air specialist ITA Software for 700 million dollars in 2010, the search giant had shaken online and traditional agencies as well than comparators. Since then, following the launch of Google Flights and Google Hotels, many players feared that the Californian group would don the costume of a travel agency. Not anymore. Google also says that customers prefer to book directly, “on partner websites”. And above all, he must prefer to concentrate on his advertising revenues… astronomical.

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EDITORIAL. Booking and other Expedia reduced to the role of comparators?