HDC 2019 Reflections: Hotels Are Slowly Winning The (Direct) Booking Battle

HDC 2019 Reflections

Joining forces with hospitality and travel leaders to discuss and analyze the shifts, trends, and future of our industry is one of the best ways to reinvigorate my drive to reach our fullest potential through the application of technological advancements.

At the 2019 Hotel Data Conference (HDC) held recently in Nashville, I had the great pleasure of collaborating with the leading experts in our industry on a wide range of data-driven concepts and innovations. Overall, the atmosphere was optimistic. However, on the other side, recent predictions from 40% of economists that we’ll be in a recession by 2020 served as an important reminder of the ongoing need in our industry to improve services in our efforts to stay on top.

Discussions about the direct vs. indirect booking battle included the exciting news that hotels are slowly inching up on OTAs. While analysis of last year shows that direct bookings accounted for approximately 49% of the overall share, Phocuswright predicts that direct bookings are destined to hit 50% by 2022. So, while the progress is slow, it appears that hotels are on the way to winning the booking “battle” over OTAs, while carefully treading the path of peaceful co-existence with this essential channel.

Alison Taylor, SVP of global sales and distribution at American Airlines, provided us with a glimpse of an “Uber of the Skies” service that she expects to see launched within the next year. Another interesting takeaway from HDC 2019 is the fact that demand at the higher end of the hospitality sector is increasing at a faster rate than lower-scale hotels.

Applying technology to every stage of the customer journey was a common theme throughout the conference, as discussions about shifts in consumer expectations and the most effective methods for providing superior service continued to receive the utmost attention. A specific example of putting this concept into practice was unveiled by Chris Wilroy, SVP, and commercial director at Hilton, as he cited the company’s compelling plan to extend its digital key to 4,000 hotels to enable a guest’s mobile phone to open their door.

Do you think Phocuswright’s prediction that direct hotel bookings will reach 50% by 2022 will come true? Or do you think hotels will hit 51% or even higher within the next few years?

Please share your thoughts about HDC 2019 and the future of our industry with me.

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