I’ve often wondered why hotels don’t do a better job at direct selling, rather than letting a plethora of travel sites and hotel booking aggregators, such as Booking.com and Expedia, cream off the top of their profits by means of affiliate revenue.
Once I find a hotel I like — and one that meets my particular accessibility needs — I have little incentive to shop around next time. That is, as long as I’m convinced the hotel’s direct price is the best one available.
Enter UK startup Triptease, which, amongst a range of products designed to help hotels better market themselves, offers ‘Price Check‘, a widget that sits on hotel websites and displays prices from across the web in real-time. The idea is to reduce the uncertainty surrounding a hotel’s direct price, and ensure you don’t wander off to search elsewhere but instead book direct and with confidence.
Why is this significant? Well, in addition to Triptease’s broader mission to bring greater transparency to hotel pricing — I’m told that third-party hotel booking sites often employ shady tactics, such as fluctuating and disappearing rates — it also enables hotels to better own the customer relationship and improve it.
That’s because, by booking direct, the hotel isn’t losing money to an affiliate and can therefore potentially afford to upgrade loyal customers for free or reward them in other ways. It’s this ‘win-win’ situation that forms the basis of Triptease’s Price Check pitch to hoteliers who pay a monthly fee for using the widget.
On how the startup’s proposition fits into the broader hotel marketing toolset, Triptease co-founder and CEO Charlie Osmond says that e-marketing tools work to bring interested people back to a hotel’s site, whereas Price Check is “designed so that visitors never have a reason to leave in the first place.”
“The main reason why people leave a hotel website to book elsewhere is an oft-mistaken belief that the price will be cheaper (a decade ago that used to be true). We show them it is not and increase direct bookings as a result,” he adds.
Investors appear to be attracted to Triptease, too. The London-based startup has recently scored a $2 million seed round of funding led by VCs Episode 1 Ventures and Notion Capital.
“We have invested in Triptease because this is an interesting and multi billion dollar issue,” says Episode 1 Partner Simon Murdoch, adding that Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) often have much larger online marketing budgets than even large hotel chains so consumers tend to think they should always go via an OTA to get the best deal, when in actual fact hotels will usually match the price direct.
“The aim is to help hotels over time with an integrated service to help them sell more direct and build a better relationship with guests. As a guest you will over time see interesting promotions, better services and so on. However, it is still day one so watch this space,” he says.