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SiteMinder on the button: analysis of the OTA boom

September 26, 2013 Corporate, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59SiteMinder, a global online distributor that develops cloud-based technology to help the accommodation industry market their rooms online, has introduced an innovation called TheBookingButton.

It’s described as a world-class, commission free, feature-packed booking engine that allows users to take direct bookings through their own websites 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Erik Munoz

Erik Munoz

“Many booking engines on the market have high commission rates on bookings that you take,” SiteMinder notes. “Why pay for bookings you make from your own website? TheBookingButton offers the most comprehensive feature set available in today’s market, ensuring properties of all sizes convert more website traffic into confirmed, commission-free bookings.”

Advances such as that deveopment are driving rapid expansion by SiteMinder, which is also riding the wave of big growth in hotels around the world, much of it fuelled by similar growth among low-cost carriers booked through online travel agents.

SiteMinder’s London-based Executive Director, Strategic Sales and Global Partnerships, Eric Munoz, is in a good position to observe the performance of OTAs around the world, many of which are national or regional in focus.

“One of the OTAs that we’ve seen a lot of growth from is Agoda, not just in terms of bookings in South East Asia or coming down into Australia, but also in Europe,” Munoz says.

He admits that this quite surprised him. “Being based in London, I didn’t think I’d hear of Agoda as commonly as I have, but Agoda and are definitely up there, being a behemoth European band.

When moved into the US market, Munoz concedes he was “a bit sceptical” about its chances of making a major impact, thinking that “although it’s a great European OTA, good luck in the US; it’s a mature market – Expedia, Orbiz, Travelocity, they’ve got that market sewn up.”

In fact, had “come on in leaps and bounds”, he says.

“So that’s interesting as well. Your traditional strong channels are remaining strong, like in Australia, but I’ve seen great growth in booking Agoda, and if you look across to the other big regions, there’s Despegar out of  Brazil, Best Day (number two in Latin America), Ctrip in China, the list goes on.

“Travellers can book and travel more cheaply than they could before. With the OTAs or booking sites, they can shop and compare, even package up a deal, much easier than they could in the past.”

OTAs and new booking systems also worked wonders for hoteliers, Munoz added.

“As a hotel operator in, say, Adelaide, if you can identify where people are coming from to stay with you, whether they are locals or internationals, that’s a big advantage – and it’s just a matter of joining the dots. You can connect those channels more easily today than you could five years ago.

“A small independent hotel can get up and running with a distribution solution, quickly, affordably and with the same type of agility as the big chain hotels, the Hiltons and Hyatts of the world. Big chains make a significant investment in CRS systems. But now independent hotels can compete for a share of the eyeballs, to be visible or bookable by North Americans, or by people from London or wherever it might be they are looking to target.

“That has been a huge game changer, of benefit to the independent operators.”

Written by : Peter Needham

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