Many of our hotelier clients are frustrated by the fact that online travel agents – and in some cases even competitors - are bidding on their brand name and confusing their consumers.
A lot of the times users may not even be aware they are not on the company’s own website. Since rate parity is an absolute requirement by OTAs these days, it does not seem to matter so much for customers where they complete a booking.
Little do they know that their reservation may have incurred commission charges between 10 - 30% for the hotelier.
Just to make it clear, we like online travel agents and they are a vital part of many hotels revenue strategy!
They are a shopping window for many potential hotel guests and help our clients to generate incremental revenue. It is a partnership that can be very beneficial for both sides and we always advise our clients to consider contracts with online travel agents to reach out to new markets.
However, bidding on hotel partners’ trademark or brand name can be perplexing for the consumer, while it also diverts traffic away from the hotel’s own website.
It's not just online travel agents… It has been known that competitors have also used this strategy to generate new business.
The M&S / Interflora dispute has been well-covered in the media and was recently picked up as an example in an article by Catherine Richardson in the Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine, warning hoteliers about the risk of competitors purchasing keywords related to their registered trademark.
Catherine suggest you should ask yourself, can your customer establish whether the other website is a separate business or may they be mislead that there is a commercial connection between you and the other business. Is the advert undermining your registered trademark or just offering an alternative? Keep any evidence of consumer confusion and if in doubt, consult a legal expert.
In the first instance, we advise our clients to pick up the phone and talk to their competitor or online travel agent. Most of the time, we find, the other business is just chancing their luck and will withdraw their campaign if you ask them nicely.
Looking for advice on online bidding?
Talk to one of our marketing experts about PPC and re-marketing to ensure your campaign generates a good return on investment for you and it ticks all the legal boxes.