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To really predict or gauge the impact a new third-party booking channel will have on the hotel industry, it’s often best to take the simple approach: Put yourself in the shoes of a consumer and ask what the benefits are to you. If there’s no reason YOU would book through a third party, then typically there is no reason anybody else would either. And if no one books, the third-party company isn’t going to have much success, no matter how much media coverage or marketing dollars they throw behind it.
When Expedia executives first introduced the agency model on the company’s second-quarter earnings call three months ago, I began thinking what the ramifications would be. So now I can book a room on Expedia.com and pay later at the hotel. OK, cool. But what else does it allow me to do?
For starters—in accordance with most hotels’ cancellation policies—it allows me to book a room through Expedia and then shop around for a better deal. If I find a better deal through a direct channel, or through another third party, I can always cancel my initial reservation with Expedia.