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Swiss Hotel Distribution Study 2015: Are OTAs winning the customer race?

The Institute of Tourism of the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland Valais (HES-SO Valais-Wallis) in Sierre conducted an online survey with the support of the Swiss hotel association (hotelleriesuisse) in order to get insights into the distribution trends in the hospitality sector. The online survey for the reference year 2014 was conducted in January 2015 among 2000 member hotels of hotelleriesuisse. The results presented here are based on responses from 265 hotels all over Switzerland. This corresponds to a response rate of 13%

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Institute of Tourism
Page 1
Swiss Hotel Distribution Study: Are OTAs winning 
the customer race?
February, 2015
Prof. Roland Schegg
Institute of Tourism, HES‐SO Valais
(Sierre, Switzerland) 
roland.schegg@hevs.ch
Institute of Tourism
Page 2
Table of Contents 
• Executive summary
• Background of the study
• Distribution channels
• OTAs (Online Travel Agency) in the Swiss hospitality sector
• Costs of distribution
• New forms of distribution
Institute of Tourism
Page 3
Direct distribution still 
important, but decreasing
• Direct bookings (telephone, fax, walk‐ins, e‐mail, Web form) without
intermediaries are still the dominant channels in 2014 for hotels in
Switzerland, even though their proportion has been steadily decreasing for
a couple of years.
 In 2014, 57.4% of the bookings in Switzerland were generated via direct
sales channels, against 62% in 2012 and 75% in 2002.
• Traditional booking channels such as telephone, letter or fax, as well as
sales through tourism partners (travel agencies, tourism boards) have been
declining for the last 10 years, although the diminution process of these
channels is slow.
 The market share of tourism organisations (DMO, RTO, NTO) has
continually decreased over the last years. It represents, in 2014, 4.1% of
the bookings in Switzerland, whereas in 2006, 6.5% of sales were made
through tourism organisations.
Institute of Tourism
Page 4
Online Distribution Channels: the 
Power of OTAs
• Online distribution has become an important channel for the Swiss hotel
industry. Overall, 27.2% of bookings are generated through real‐time online
channels (OTA, GDS, real‐time booking on hotel website).
• OTAs clearly dominate the online distribution market (24.2%). They have
multiplied their market shares in the last few years and seem to grow
continuously.
• Priceline (booking.com, Agoda), Expedia (incl. hotels.com, Venere) and HRS
(incl. hotel.de, Tiscover) account roughly for 90% of this market. With
70.5%, Priceline holds a dominant position on the OTA market in
Switzerland and generates overall 17% of all bookings.
• Four out of ten hotels generate more than 25% of bookings via OTAs and
every tenth hotel experiments more than 50% of its sales by OTAs. This
point underlines the strong dependency of many Swiss operators on these
intermediaries.
• The share of real time bookings on hotels’ own websites has reached 8.3%,
which is twice the value observed in 2006.
Institute of Tourism
Page 5
The Costs of OTAs
• In Switzerland, online booking channels (OTA, GDS, real‐time booking on
hotel websites, CRSs) generated over 1 billion CHF of gross bookings in
2014.
• For 2014, the estimated total amount of commissions paid by hotels to
OTAs in Switzerland is between 90 and 130 million CHF (depending on the
estimation approach).
• The average Swiss hotel spends, according to our estimation, nearly 30’000
CHF per year on OTA commissions (roughly 700 CHF per room and year).
Institute of Tourism
Page 6
Distribution Trends
• Mobile Internet: Approximately 60% of the hoteliers asked use mobile sales
channels, compared to about one‐third in 2011. Most hotels have a mobile
version of their website. One hotel out of ten has a mobile app (in most
cases edited by a hotel cooperation or a chain)
• One out of four hotels is using a direct interface with a meta‐search engine
whereas 38% of hotels use the Google Hotel Finder actively.

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Swiss Hotel Distribution Study 2015: Are OTAs winning the customer race?

  • 1. Institute of Tourism Page 1 Swiss Hotel Distribution Study: Are OTAs winning  the customer race? February, 2015 Prof. Roland Schegg Institute of Tourism, HES‐SO Valais (Sierre, Switzerland)  roland.schegg@hevs.ch
  • 2. Institute of Tourism Page 2 Table of Contents  • Executive summary • Background of the study • Distribution channels • OTAs (Online Travel Agency) in the Swiss hospitality sector • Costs of distribution • New forms of distribution
  • 3. Institute of Tourism Page 3 Direct distribution still  important, but decreasing • Direct bookings (telephone, fax, walk‐ins, e‐mail, Web form) without intermediaries are still the dominant channels in 2014 for hotels in Switzerland, even though their proportion has been steadily decreasing for a couple of years.  In 2014, 57.4% of the bookings in Switzerland were generated via direct sales channels, against 62% in 2012 and 75% in 2002. • Traditional booking channels such as telephone, letter or fax, as well as sales through tourism partners (travel agencies, tourism boards) have been declining for the last 10 years, although the diminution process of these channels is slow.  The market share of tourism organisations (DMO, RTO, NTO) has continually decreased over the last years. It represents, in 2014, 4.1% of the bookings in Switzerland, whereas in 2006, 6.5% of sales were made through tourism organisations.
  • 4. Institute of Tourism Page 4 Online Distribution Channels: the  Power of OTAs • Online distribution has become an important channel for the Swiss hotel industry. Overall, 27.2% of bookings are generated through real‐time online channels (OTA, GDS, real‐time booking on hotel website). • OTAs clearly dominate the online distribution market (24.2%). They have multiplied their market shares in the last few years and seem to grow continuously. • Priceline (booking.com, Agoda), Expedia (incl. hotels.com, Venere) and HRS (incl. hotel.de, Tiscover) account roughly for 90% of this market. With 70.5%, Priceline holds a dominant position on the OTA market in Switzerland and generates overall 17% of all bookings. • Four out of ten hotels generate more than 25% of bookings via OTAs and every tenth hotel experiments more than 50% of its sales by OTAs. This point underlines the strong dependency of many Swiss operators on these intermediaries. • The share of real time bookings on hotels’ own websites has reached 8.3%, which is twice the value observed in 2006.
  • 5. Institute of Tourism Page 5 The Costs of OTAs • In Switzerland, online booking channels (OTA, GDS, real‐time booking on hotel websites, CRSs) generated over 1 billion CHF of gross bookings in 2014. • For 2014, the estimated total amount of commissions paid by hotels to OTAs in Switzerland is between 90 and 130 million CHF (depending on the estimation approach). • The average Swiss hotel spends, according to our estimation, nearly 30’000 CHF per year on OTA commissions (roughly 700 CHF per room and year).
  • 6. Institute of Tourism Page 6 Distribution Trends • Mobile Internet: Approximately 60% of the hoteliers asked use mobile sales channels, compared to about one‐third in 2011. Most hotels have a mobile version of their website. One hotel out of ten has a mobile app (in most cases edited by a hotel cooperation or a chain) • One out of four hotels is using a direct interface with a meta‐search engine whereas 38% of hotels use the Google Hotel Finder actively.
  • 8. Institute of Tourism Page 8 Background of the Study • The Institute of Tourism of the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland Valais (HES‐SO Valais‐Wallis) in Sierre conducted an online survey with the support of the Swiss hotel association (hotelleriesuisse) in order to get insights into the distribution trends in the hospitality sector. • The online survey for the reference year 2014 was conducted in January 2015 among 2000 member hotels of hotelleriesuisse. • The results presented here are based on responses from 265 hotels all over Switzerland. This corresponds to a response rate of 13%. • The sample reflects the structure of members of hotelleriesuisse regarding the classification of hotels.
  • 9. Institute of Tourism Page 9 Sample characteristics (star  classification) compared to  population 0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% Swiss Lodge and others 1*+2* 3* 4* 5* sample population
  • 10. Institute of Tourism Page 10 Distribution channels 2014 Sample: n=257 Market  share (in %) Direct ‐ Phone Direct ‐ Mail / fax Direct ‐ Walk‐In (persons without reservation) Direct ‐ Contact form on own website (without availability check) Direct ‐ Email Direct ‐ real time booking over own website with availability check 8.3 Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) / trade associations 2.6 National Tourism Organization (NTO) 1.5 Tour operator / Travel agency 5.3 Hotel chains and cooperations with CRS 0.8 Wholesaler (e.g. Hotelbeds, Tourico, Gulliver, Transhotel, etc.) 2.1 Event and Congress organizer 2.5 Online Booking Agency (OTA) 24.2 Globale Distributionssysteme (GDS) 2.8 Social Media Channels 0.2 other distribution channels 0.7 0.7 49.1 57.4 4.1 10.7 27.2
  • 11. Institute of Tourism Page 11 Trends in Booking Channels in  Swiss Hotels 2002‐2014 Attention: Market shares in %  of bookings for 2002‐2012 & 2014  and in % of overnights in 2013 ! 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% Direct Bookings (E‐mail, telephone…) Online Travel Agency (OTA) Tour operators / TA & Wholesaler Tourism organisations (DMO) Event and conference organizers Global distribution systems ‐ GDS Hotel chain & affiliation with CRS Social media channels & others 2014 (n=257) 2013 (n=279) 2012 (n=200) 2011 (n=196) 2010 (n=211) 2009 (n=198) 2008 (n=184) 2006 (n=100) 2005 (n=94) 2002 (n=202)
  • 12. Institute of Tourism Page 12 Trends in Booking Channels in  Swiss Hotels 2006‐2014 Attention: Market shares in %  of bookings for 2006‐2012 & 2014 and in  % of overnights in 2013 ! 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Tradit. channels (telephone, fax, letter, walk‐in), E‐ Mail & Web form Online Travel Agency (OTA) Tour operators / TA & Wholesaler Realtime booking (own website) Tourism organisations (DMO) Event and conference organiszers Global distribution systems ‐ GDS Hotel chain & affiliation with CRS Social media channels & others 2014 (n=257) 2013 (n=279) 2012 (n=200) 2011 (n=196) 2010 (n=211) 2009 (n=198) 2008 (n=184) 2006 (n=100)
  • 13. Institute of Tourism Page 13 Distribution Trends in the Swiss  Hotel Sector 2002‐2014 Attention: Market shares in %  of bookings for 2002‐2012 & 2014 and in  % of overnights in 2013 ! 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Direct Bookings (hotel‐guest) Online booking intermediairies (OTA, GDS, social media) Tourism partners (tour operators, wholesaler, DMO national‐local, event & conference organizers, hotel chain, others) 2014 (n=257) 2013 (n=279) 2012 (n=200) 2011 (n=196) 2010 (n=211) 2009 (n=198) 2008 (n=184) 2006 (n=100) 2005 (n=94) 2002 (n=202)
  • 14. Institute of Tourism Page 14 Distribution Trends in the Swiss  Hotel Sector 2002‐2014 Attention: Market shares in %  of bookings for 2002‐2012 & 2014 and in  % of overnights in 2013 ! 57.4% 42.7% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% 2002 (n=202) 2005 (n=94) 2006 (n=100) 2008 (n=184) 2009 (n=198) 2010 (n=211) 2011 (n=196) 2012 (n=200) 2013 (n=279) 2014 (n=250) Direct Bookings (hotel‐guest) Indirect Booking (via intermediairy)
  • 15. Institute of Tourism Page 15 Hoteliers’ Comments on  Distribution Abhängigkeit zu OTA, Preise werden nach oben diktiert Booking.com mit Abstand am stärksten, HRS nimmt stetig ab Booking.com viele neue Gäste , aber leider auch Stammgäste die das System nicht als solche erkannt! Die Kommissionen, z.B. bei Booking.com sind wahnsinnig hoch. Wie die anderen Anbieter auch. Darum haben wir  nur einen Vertrag mit Booking.com und nicht mehrere Anbieter. Die Nachfrage nach OTA's steigt, wobei sie mehrheitlich quasi "Walk‐Ins" ablösen würde. Für kleinere und mittlere Betriebe zu hohe Kosten ‐ wie früher mit den Kreditkarten. Die Kommissionen müssten  dringend runter! Bei unseren hohen Kosten sind wir echt nicht mehr kompatibel mit dem Ausland! Grosse Schwankungen je nach Saison. Winter mehr direkt, via Webseite sowie OTA's (letztere v.a. kurzfristig).  Sommer mehr direkt, via Webseite, OTA und Event‐Veranstalter. Sommer Volumen allerdings einiges kleiner als  Winter. Je suis très très content de booking.com ‐ STC est complètement nul ‐ L'Euro est un problème Mit klarer Diskriminierung der Buchg von OTAs werden mehr Buchungen auf der eigenen Homepage generiert. Wir  bieten ganz klar günstigere Preise und das Frühstück bieten wir kostenlos an. Nous sommes trop petits et les réservations arrivent par téléphone ou mail après que le client ait visité le site  internet. La plupart réservent sur recommandation. C'est du bouche‐à‐oreilles! OTA wächst, Direkt wird weniger und weniger Buchungen sehr kurzfristig Wir konnten den Rückgang der Echtzeitbuchungen auf unserer Website stoppen. (Neu schlagen wir bei OTA's einen  Teil der Kommission auf dem Preis, d.h. eigene Website ist im Vergleich günstiger!)
  • 16. Institute of Tourism Page 16 Focus on OTAs: Players and  Costs
  • 17. Institute of Tourism Page 17 Relative market shares of top  OTAs in selected European  countries 2013 Austria Belgium Czech  Republic Denmark Finland Germany Greece Hungary Italy Norway Spain Switzerland overall  sample Weighted  European  average observations (n) 49 56 55 50 42 1067 163 68 88 41 127 247 1736 1736 Agoda 0.2 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.5 2.1 1.2 0.2 1.4 0.4 0.5 0.9 Booking.com 66.8 70.2 65.0 58.1 64.6 41.6 73.3 55.7 63.0 72.7 66.2 69.7 59.5 60.9 Priceline 67.0 70.2 65.2 58.2 64.6 41.8 73.8 57.8 64.2 72.9 67.6 70.1 60.0 61.8 HRS 7.9 3.6 8.6 4.7 1.9 31.1 0.5 6.1 3.7 2.3 2.0 6.7 11.9 8.9 Hotel.de 4.0 1.1 5.0 1.7 0.6 10.4 0.7 2.5 1.8 1.4 1.5 3.0 4.6 3.8 Tiscover 3.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.2 HRS (total) 15.3 4.7 13.5 6.4 2.5 41.6 1.2 8.6 5.5 3.7 3.5 9.8 16.6 12.9 Expedia 5.5 6.6 8.3 8.9 2.5 5.8 8.8 8.3 15.0 8.5 10.9 6.3 7.5 9.2 Venere 2.1 1.6 3.5 1.6 0.5 1.1 3.7 1.6 6.3 0.4 3.9 2.6 2.4 3.3 Hotels.com 0.3 0.6 1.5 9.1 2.2 1.0 2.8 1.1 1.8 5.7 1.1 1.0 1.8 1.6 Expedia (total) 7.9 8.9 13.2 19.7 5.2 7.9 15.2 11.0 23.2 14.5 16.0 9.9 11.8 14.0 Total of top 3 90.2 83.7 91.9 84.2 72.3 91.4 90.2 77.3 92.8 91.1 87.1 89.8 88.3 88.8 Schegg (2014): European Hotel Distribution Study: The Rise of Online Intermediaries. Special Focus Switzerland. Web:  http://etourism‐monitor.ch/node/129 
  • 18. Institute of Tourism Page 18 Relative market shares of top  OTAs in Switzerland: 2011‐2014 52.3% 13.7% 8.5% 67.2% 9.3% 8.1% 69.7% 9.8% 9.9% 70.5% 7.6% 11.0% 0.0% 20.0% 40.0% 60.0% 80.0% Booking.com HRS (incl. Hotel.de & Tiscover) Expedia (incl. Venere and hotels.com) 2014 2013 2012 2011
  • 19. Institute of Tourism Page 19 OTA dependency of Swiss  hotels • In 4 out of 10 hotels OTAs generate more than 25% of all bookings. 23% 34% 32% 11% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% low OTA dependency (<10% market share) moderate OTA dependency (10‐25% market share) high OTA dependency (25‐50% market share) very high OTA dependency (>50% market share)
  • 20. Institute of Tourism Page 20 OTA dependency versus  classification • The highest OTA dependency can be observed in hotel classified as 3* and lower. other 3* 4* 5* Total low OTA dependency (<10% market share) 24% 22% 22% 33% 23% moderate OTA dependency (10‐25% market  share) 24% 27% 49% 60% 34% high OTA dependency (25‐50% market share) 26% 38% 26% 7% 32% very high OTA dependency (>50% market  share) 26% 12% 2% 0% 11% Total 100% 100% 100% 100% p = <0,1 ; Khi2 = 31,0 ; ddl = 9 (TS)
  • 21. Institute of Tourism Page 21 OTAS: average annual  commission payments per hotel  and average commission rates • On average, a Swiss hotel spends annually at least 27’000 CHF on commission payments for the three major OTAs (30’000 overall). • The average Swiss hotel pays 500 CHF on commission per room and per year to booking.com only and probably 700 CHF to OTAs overall. booking.com Expedia HRS annual  commission  payment  (CHF) annual  commission  payment per  room (CHF) average commission  (%) annual  commission  payment  (CHF) average commission  (%) annual  commission  payment  (CHF) average commission  (%) Average 38576 886 13.2 14176 16.4 5411 14.2 Maximum 445926 12500 25 214687 30 35000 20 Median 18750 500 12 5000 15 3100 15 n 148 145 192 77 100 75 102
  • 22. Institute of Tourism Page 22 Estimation of OTA Commission  Payments of Swiss hotels  The estimations on the following slides are based on different  hypotheses: • The calculations use the lodging revenues of the hospitality sector in  Switzerland in 2014 (4,1 Billion CHF) as well as the hypothesis that  booking turnover can be distributed proportionally to the market shares  of the surveyed channels.  • The transposition of the figures of the sample to the hospitality sector is  only valid to a certain extent. • A full cost calculation should also take into consideration the fixed costs  of particular channels (staff), in addition to clearing costs or the costs of  the PMS interface.   Therefore, the presented estimations only show an order of  magnitude!
  • 23. Institute of Tourism Page 23 Estimations of OTA Commission  Payments  Top‐down approach: Using an average commission of 13%, an  OTA market share of 24.2% and lodging revenues of 4.1 Billion  CHF, we can estimate an overall gross OTA turnover of nearly 1  Billion CHF and OTA commission payments of 130 Million CHF.  Bottom‐up approach: Using the median value of the  commission payment per room for booking.com (500 CHF) and  the total hotel room supply in Switzerland (129’000 rooms), we  can estimate the commission payments to booking.com to be  64.5 Million CHF. Taking the market share of 70.5% of  booking.com, we can calculate the overall OTA commission  payment to be 91 Million CHF.
  • 24. Institute of Tourism Page 24 Mobile distribution and use of  meta‐search engines Source: http://virtuallydirect.wordpress.com/category/mobile-applications/
  • 25. Institute of Tourism Page 25 Use of meta‐search engines  One out of four hotels (27%) is using a direct interface with a  meta‐search engine.  The proportion of hotels using this new channel is significantly  higher in city hotels (35.1%), in business hotels (36%), in chain  hotels (46.4%) and in 4* hotels (40%).
  • 26. Institute of Tourism Page 26 Use of Google Hotel Finder 33% 29% 15% 23% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% No, I do not know this option/tool No, this is not relevant for us Yes, with a permanent integration with our front office system Yes, via an interface of our distribution partner (p.ex. Expedia)
  • 27. Institute of Tourism Page 27 Use of Google Hotel Finder  On average, 38% of hotels use the Google Hotel Finder actively.  The proportion of hotels using this new channel is significantly  higher in chain hotels (57%) and in 4* hotels (59%).
  • 28. Institute of Tourism Page 28 Mobile distribution channels  The proportion of hotels not using mobile distribution channels  is slightly lower in 2014 (i.e. 41.4%) than it was in 2013 (i.e.  48%). Nevertheless, almost as few as one out of two Swiss hotel  has no mobile distribution strategy.  Most hotels (42%) have a mobile version of their website. One  hotel out of ten has a mobile app (in most cases provided by a  hotel cooperation or chain) whereas 4.4% of hotels use mobile  distribution through a “same day booking app” from providers  such as “Hotels Tonight”.
  • 29. Institute of Tourism Page 29 PMS / Front office systems used  Based on responses of 221 hotels (out of the 265 in the survey). The presented PMS systems in  the graph total 95% of the market. In total 28 systems have been registered. 31% 26% 6% 5% 5% 4% 3% 3% 3% 2% 2% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% protel Fidelio Amadeus Hospitality (Hogatex) Opera Base7booking.com HS3 Gastrodat Casy Dormbook+DormProject AIDA Reconline Medaillon Visual velox Office Bonus hotelpac Hotline
  • 30. Institute of Tourism Page 30 Contact Prof. Roland Schegg University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland Valais (HES‐SO Valais‐Wallis) School of Management & Tourism Institute of Tourism (ITO) TechnoPôle 3 CH‐3960 Sierre/Siders, Switzerland Tel:  +41 (0)27 606 90 83 Mail: roland.schegg@hevs.ch  Twitter: @RolandSchegg LinkedIn: ch.linkedin.com/in/rolandschegg/ Web: www.hevs.ch / www.etourism‐monitor.ch Bachelor of Science HES‐SO in Tourism  in German, French and English http://tourism.hevs.ch
  • 31. Institute of Tourism Page 31 Glossary of Used Terms and  Abbrevations CRS Central Reservation System DMO Destination Management Organisation DMS Destination Management System such as TOMAS or Deskline (Feratel) GDS Global Distribution System (e.g. Amadeus or Sabre) hs hotelleriesuisse (trade organisation of the Swiss hotel sector) HRS Hotel Reservation Service LTO Local Tourism Organisation NTO National Tourism Organisation OTA Online Travel Agency PMS Property Management System RTO Regional Tourism Organisation SEM Search Engine Marketing SEO Search Engine Optimisation STC Switzerland Travel Centre (national booking system in Switzerland)