Independent hoteliers ‘increasingly dependent’ on OTAs to drive bookings

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

OTAs still have a big share of hotel distribution in Europe according to HOTREC's report
OTAs still have a big share of hotel distribution in Europe according to HOTREC's report

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Independent hoteliers are increasingly dependent on online travel agents (OTAs) to drive bookings with a quarter being made through these channels, a report has found. 

The results of HOTREC’s second hotel distribution study, based on the responses from 2,000 hoteliers across Europe, also found that 92 per cent of the OTA market is dominated by three OTAs –, Expedia and HVA with the first two holding an 80 per cent share.

Despite work by hoteliers to encourage guests to book with them direct, the report found that direct bookings had dropped to 55 per cent.

Christian de Barrin, CEO of HOTREC, the European trade association of hotels, restaurants and cafes,said the situation was ‘critical’ as commission rates hotels pay to OTAs generally had not decreased.

He said: "The study clearly shows that online platforms are steadily acquiring bigger and bigger shares in hotel bookings, while the hotels’ own distribution channels are on a decline making dependency on OTAs growing. The situation is especially critical as it seems that the OTA market tends to become a duopolistic (or even monopolistic?) one in Europe, with one player ( controlling closely two thirds of the market." 

Parity clauses

HOTREC said despite the introduction of parity clauses in Germany and France last year, there had not been 'significant movement' with regards to commission rates with only 9 per cent of hoteliers reporting a reduction in rates over the past year and the rest paying at least the same rates as before. 

"It is crucial that despite the huge imbalance between the various players the market conditions become more fair and balanced, with the freedom of each and every single hotelier to be able to set their own conditions for their own services freely and be able to fairly negotiate on contract terms and conditions with every distribution partner," added Markus Luthe, chair of HOTREC’s Distribution Task Force. 

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