The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK have brought pressure on accommodation monopolies Booking.com and Expedia to force them to make drastic changes to the way they market and sell properties online, which could be a bonus for hotels, particularly those that adapt the blockchain technology of DeskBell Chain, writes Benedict O’Leary, travel expert and ICO advisor.
The main issues were focused on pressure selling, unclear and misleading claims about discounts, as well as the impact of commission paid by hotels to improve their search results. Although practices such as indicating how many bookings a particular property has received in the last 24 or 48 hours, or showing how many people are currently looking at the same property are common within the industry, the CNA’s primary concern was that these tactics create a sense of urgency and are misleading in terms of the availability and popularity of a particular property.
Blockchain technology, such as that offered by the DeskBell Chain app, will help consumers to interact directly with the property and receive additional benefits that are not available online. It’s safe to say that search engines will always be a factor, and small properties cannot compete with the multi-billion marketing budgets of the likes of Booking.com and Expedia who dominate the market. It’s no surprise that they rank among Google’s biggest customers in terms of spend for pay-per-click and keyword advertising. However, once registered on the app, properties can take advantage of its inherent geolocation technology features to reach consumers and provide the right marketing at just the right time for the consumer in the right place.
Instead of being bombarded by irrelevant advertising and endless lists of properties, making it hard if not impossible to make an informed choice, the consumer will receive information about properties that suit their location, search history and preferences. This is a real benefit for smaller properties — they will not have to pay ever larger amounts of commission per booking to a faceless giant simply to compete with their neighbouring hotels, but can provide offers to potential guests to redeem in-house via the app. Consumers are satisfied because they are not just booking another hotel, but have a genuine interaction even before they arrive. Hotel can message guests via the app to confirm check-in time or other preferences. Smaller independent properties value each and every guest, so direct bookings are all the more special, and profitable for the property. This means that they are more willing and able to offer additional benefits — such as early check-in, free breakfast or drink at the bar — to its direct booking guests.
DeskBell Chain offers consurmers, and properties, complete transparency. There is no question about the authenticity of reviews and property ratings — thanks the distributed ledger of blockchain technology all the information and history is available. This provides for a more genuine interaction between hotel guest and property.
Although Expedia and Booking.com have until 1st September to implement changes to their websites it is big news. They are more or less admitting to dishonesty, although whether or not these practices can be deemed illegal has yet to be seen. One hopes that the independent online-savvy consumer will see the benefits of blockchain technology, and DeskBell Chain is primed to provide just what they need when they need it.