ASTA Responds to Hyatt’s New Direct Booking Campaign
Illustration courtesy of Thinkstock
Hyatt Hotels’ recently announced direct booking campaign makes comparative shopping more difficult for both consumers and travel agents alike, ASTA said in a statement.
Hyatt’s move joins similar direct booking initiatives by Marriott International and Hilton Worldwide.
The program offers members of the Hyatt Gold Passport Loyalty program a 10 percent discount on their hotel stay, plus additional benefits, when they bypass online travel agencies and book directly on Hyatt.com or through the company’s mobile app.
The discount is also available to guests who book on the phone or through a travel agent, however, agents can only make those bookings on Hyatt’s website. The discounted rates will not be available in GDSs.
“Hyatt tells us that while this new promotion is commissionable to agents, the agent can only obtain it by booking directly through a Hyatt channel and not through their GDS,” said ASTA’s statement. “This move makes comparative shopping harder for agent and consumer alike, and adds to an agent’s workload by disrupting the standard booking process.”
ASTA also called “the many book direct campaigns,” now including Hyatt’s, misleading.
“Our reasoning is driven by the fact that in nowhere but the fine print is it obvious to the traveling public that consumers can get the same rates or deals by using their trusted travel agent as they can by booking directly with the supplier,” its statement said.
In fact, in some cases the ability to book these rates through agents can’t even be found in the fine print — “you have to ask,” according to the statement.
“While the good news for the travel agency community is that major hotel chains are making these discounted rates (or free Wi-Fi, depending on the promotion) available through some agents, this fact is nearly invisible to the consumer,” the statement said.
Hilton Worldwide’s recent campaign, for instance, rewards members of its HHonors frequent stay program who book directly through Hilton’s brands and other approved channels with discounted rates and other perks. But those “approved channels” include preferred corporate travel partners and approved travel agents.
Likewise, Marriott International’s Marriott Rewards Member Rates — exclusive room rates available to Marriott Rewards members who book through direct channels, including Marriott.com, the hotel chain’s app and its call centers — can also be booked by approved travel agents and select corporate accounts.
ASTA is trying to address issues like these direct booking campaigns with its creation in January of a Hotel Distribution Advisory Committee.
The committee was formed to:
• Help ASTA understand the implications of emerging hotel-related issues from the perspective of members and others in the industry.
• Help set priorities for ASTA and the industry regarding these issues.
• Advise on the best way to respond and position ASTA on hotel-related developments.
• Help develop contingency plans in response to current and future scenarios in the hotel space.
• Provide members an opportunity to keep up to date on current industry issues and how the industry’s key players view those issues.
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