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There is never going to be an overall winner in the battle for bookings between hotels and OTAs, according to the CEO of Booking.com.
“I always think there will be direct bookings. If a customer, twice per month, books the Marriott downtown Chicago then it makes sense to book that property direct.
“[But] most of the customers on Booking.com are booking a property for the first time and that’s a different type of customer.”
After years of handing customers to OTAs, hotels have been trying to fight back. The likes of Hilton and Marriott have been talking up the benefits of their loyalty programmes in a bid to bring in more direct bookings.
However, Tans believes it is not really down to individual companies.
“I always say any opinion doesn’t really matter in this discussion. Eventually customers will go to platforms that deliver what they are looking for. So in the end the customer will make that decision [of] which platform they are going to use in the future,” she said.
Meanwhile, Tans also explained why Booking.com had decided to kill its last-minute app Booking Now.
She said that it was introduced in the first place because customers wanted better technology for last-minute bookings.
“Once we saw that that technology was working we moved it into the main app, and what we saw happening at some point was that everything you could find at Booking Now you could find at the main app,” she said.
“It delivered its purpose in the sense that It really helped us to make the improvements on the main app. But then we thought it doesn’t make sense to then continue Booking Now when the main app has progressed.”
Booking.com’s decision to axe its dedicated app doesn’t mean that the trend for later bookings is over. Instead, Tans suggested that the timeframe was front and back loaded.
“We do see that people book more and more [late] and more and more further out. So the middle is actually declining,” she said.