Online hotel bookings continue shift from online travel agencies to supplier sites


In a study released today by comScore, Inc. of the online travel industry, statistics showed that supplier websites account for 72 percent of online hotel spending as of the first quarter of 2008, a 3-percentage point increase in dollar share from the previous year. Hotel market share through online travel agency sites (e.g. Expedia and Orbitz) is now 28 percent, 3-percentage points down from a year ago.

The increase in dollar share among supplier sites is being driven by several economy brands, such as Best Western (up 1.2 points) and Choice Hotels (up 0.6 points). Marriott, which includes both economy and premium brands, experienced the most significant increase of 1.3 points. Meanwhile, online travel agency sites lost dollar share as consumers booked directly on the supplier sites.

“The current economy has many consumers and business travelers tightening their belts, and the travel industry is certainly feeling the impact,” said Kevin Levitt, comScore Vice President. “Customers are becoming more cost-conscious, seeking modestly priced alternatives for their hotel stays.”

Given the current economic conditions, some hotel groups are shifting their online ad dollars away from premium brands. Consider as an example the Intercontinental Hotels Group, which owns both premium and economy brands. Its economy brand, Holiday Inn Express, increased its total number of paid search link exposures by 16 percent, while its premium brands, like Crowne Plaza (down 41 percent) and Intercontinental (down 26 percent), reduced exposures.

“With consumers shifting their spending toward lower-cost alternatives, it makes sense that marketers would be shifting their ad spending accordingly to achieve better marketing ROI,” added Mr. Levitt.