When OTAs go direct: Expedia promotes hotel loyalty programs

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Expedia, Inc., is the first OTA to begin displaying a hotel chain’s discounted loyalty rates next to standard rates. It’s also the first to cheerlead for a hotel’s own loyalty program.
The first chain to participate is Red Lion, a 114-property brand in the US and Canada. For the past month, the chain has been offering its cheaper loyalty rates alongside its standard rates on Expedia.com and Hotels.com.

simone puorto expedia

Customers are offered the cheaper loyalty rates as long as they agree to join the hotel’s membership program and those who already belong to the hotel’s program can claim the rate by signing in with their credentials.)
Over the course of the month, membership sign-ups more than quadrupled, says Red Lion.

Large hotel chains invented loyalty programs and discounted rates for members as ways to encourage repeat and direct bookings.
Many large and small hotel chains  built their loyalty programs to tell travelers that the best value they can get can only be obtained by joining their programs and by booking direct.

When you look at user research, consumers shop multiple channels, even when they have a preference for a past brand they’ve used, not to mention that more and more consumers are more likely to book on an OTA than at brand.com because they find that the OTAs provide more transparency into the key criteria.
Brand.com can’t offer the same level of information for comparison-shopping as an OTA can.

Promoting loyalty rates through OTAs is a positive for consumers in that it empowers consumer convenience and limits price confusion.
It also is a positive for those hotels and chains, because when they add to their value proposition for Expedia consumers, they can compete more effectively in the marketplace with their peer hotels looking to attract those same Expedia consumers.