We have all become very familiar and fond of using airfare and hotel discount sites to shop for and purchase our airfare, hotels, and even excursions. Travel sites such as Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Kayak, Priceline, etc… have all become staples in the travel shopping world.
But recently we have seen hotels doing more-and-more to provide incentives to customers to book directly with them. After all, when you book directly with the hotels, they make more profit because they don’t pay a commission to the discount sites.
We have already seen Hilton launch it’s multi-million dollar Stop Clicking Around campaign that is aimed at doing just that. In essence, they are offering discounted rates and rewards points bonuses for HHonors members when they book directly with Hilton.
We have also seen hotel chains such as Hilton, Marriott, and others start to limit free WiFi only to rewards club members, which is another way they can incentivize signing up for their rewards program and promoting direct booking.
So our question is, will we start to see more airlines trying to incentivize direct booking this year? And if so, how will they do it? We saw Lufthansa make moves to promote direct booking back in 2015. Some airlines, such as Delta, have also taken actions to limit the number of sites that have access to their fares. Delta would prefer that people book directly thru their website so that they can up-sell more services like WiFi and add-ons like hotels.
Will we see more airlines follow suit this year? What other approaches might we see airlines take to incentivize direct booking? Will they only award frequent flyer miles to customers who booked directly with them?
While we are discouraged with the recent trend to push more customers to direct booking, we do understand it. And if airlines take the same route as hotel chains such as Hilton and Marriott and provide positive incentives, such as discounts to loyalty program members for direct booking with them, this shift might not be all bad.
We want to hear your thoughts!