The secret hotel booking model, also known as the opaque channel, has taken off in 2012 attracting millions of new customers and thousands of new hotels around the world.
A leader in opaque travel, Hotwire.com, has reported that it has doubled hotel bookings and signed up 5,000 new hotels in the past twelve months.
Every day, Hotwire sells thousands of hotel rooms that would otherwise remain empty.
More than 30,000 hotels use Hotwire’s secret model to sell their excess inventory.
Unlike other discount travel websites, Hotwire does not disclose the name of the hotel until the booking is completed, protecting the hotel from the negative impact of discounting associated with flash sites, loosely fenced newsletter sites or other last-minute discount models.
And unlike mobile only sites Hotwire is a tool hotels can use to target a much broader audience and booking window.
Hotwire expects the growth of opaque travel will continue in 2013 when it plans to launch several regional websites across Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Hotwire most recently launched in Australia and New Zealand, following launches in the Nordics, the UK and Ireland in 2011.
“The negative impact of discounting on a brand is well-known in the industry, and it is one of the reasons why our opaque model has been so popular with hoteliers around the world,” commented Tara Stangel, senior director at Hotwire.
“Because the name of the hotel is hidden, hoteliers don’t have to worry about disrupting their day-to-day business and servicing their existing customers.
“By selling some of its rooms on Hotwire, hotels increase their occupancy, generate new revenue and introduce their hotel to customers who wouldn’t stay there otherwise,” said Stangel.
Traditionally hotels have used Hotwire to sell their inventory during off-season when business travel is down; however, nowadays hotels also turn to Hotwire during peak times when occupancy levels drop due to increased competition, a lower number of travellers or other unforeseen circumstances.
“Many of our hotels use Hotwire.com all year long,” said Tara Stangel from Hotwire.