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Phocuswright study shows independent hotels are concerned with growing costs of third-party reservations but see metasearch as a solution

Düsseldorf, Germany – trivago, a global hotel metasearch, partnered with the travel industry’s research authority, Phocuswright, on a study that explores independent lodging properties in the current online marketplace. Results of the study reveal metasearch is increasingly delivering both visibility and direct bookings to independent lodging properties, but critical issues such as third-party dependence and tech-adoption barriers remain. Key findings from the research are now accessible in a free white paper.

According to Phocuswright’s Independent Lodging Properties and the Online Marketplace 2019, progress in the sector, including the growth of metasearch and a shift to digital marketing activities, has helped independent lodging properties recover some lost ground when it comes to driving business online. Nearly two-thirds of independent properties now receive direct bookings from metasearch, and almost 90% intend to maintain or increase their use of metasearch for visibility and bookings in the future. However, in the online environment, OTAs still play a very important role in most markets, with revenue shares for 2018 projected at 39% in the US and 45% in Europe. Hoteliers’ understanding of the complexity of today’s online environment, as well as their use of the technology that can help level the playing field, remain constricted, the study found.

Johannes Thomas, Managing Director and Chief Revenue Officer at trivago N.V., said: “There have been pivotal changes in hospitality’s marketing and technology landscape in the last few years. We are excited to see that metasearch has become a more attractive direct marketing channel for hotels and has helped hoteliers to diversify their marketing and distribution mix.”

He further noted: “With the digitalization of the industry, we have seen independent hotels slow to adapt and struggle to compete as a result. This research sheds new light on the issue and delivers crucial insights into the challenges and technology-adoption barriers keeping hoteliers from succeeding online. Understanding the obstacles they are facing will help us provide today’s hoteliers with better guidance and more effective marketing tools. We aim to empower hotels to embrace the digital world, reduce their third-party dependence, and efficiently reach guests in the future.”

Key insights from the study

The majority of independent lodging properties surveyed reported generating most of their business through online channels: 79% and 69% in the US and Europe respectively, up from 59% and 63% in 2015. Metasearch has emerged as an important digital channel for driving direct bookings for independent hotels, generating significant proportions (13% in the US and 12% in Europe) of their total online room revenue. Of the hoteliers surveyed, 60% rated metasearch as a very or most effective marketing channel and 42% stated they intend to use it more in the future for distribution.

Despite the improved online performance in the sector, dependence on third-party sales is still high, especially in the UK market where OTA sales account for over 50% of independent properties’ online room revenue. The study found that growing costs of third-party reservations is hoteliers’ biggest marketing and distribution concern overall and that better use of technology to increase direct bookings can help mitigate this threat; but with 46% of respondents saying systems are too expensive, 40% citing they lack time to evaluate tools, and 35% admitting to not being aware of available options, scaling technology adoption remains a challenge.

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