Hotel News Now has an interesting story describing the recent Best Western owners meeting. According to the story, Dorothy Dowling, Best Western’s SVP of Marketing and Sales asked the members in attendance if they would be willing to join Choice in the fight against Expedia by pulling their hotels from the site. According to the story, applause rang loudly from the attendees.
Now, before this becomes a conspiracy against Expedia, lets examine the facts. Best Western, by the nature of the business model, does not have the power over its membership that IHG or even Choice Hotels has - they can’t force their members (not franchisees, mind you) to actually toe the corporate line as IHG did six years ago.
And of course the hotel owners are opposed to the terms which Expedia is asking for - who wants to give up 25% of revenue per booking? The question is, can they make it up elsewhere?
Best Western suggests working with “receptive tour operators and other online travel agency partnerships” to drive revenue instead of relying on Expedia. Fair enough, but IHG and Choice would both say it takes a lot more than looking at other channels. And we’ve never seen a receptive that offers lower (or more flexible) margins than an OTA. As for looking to other OTAs - it comes down to size and scale. And for better or worse, Expedia has everyone beat in both categories.
So, is Best Western ready to step up and drive revenues direct? This is the true power of the brand.