Darren Huston on Direct Bookings vs OTAs Darren Huston on Direct Bookings vs OTAs

Darren Huston on Business in Dubai Talks about Direct vs OTA Bookings

Booking.Com – “The Cheapest way for Hotels to do Paid Marketing”

CEO of Darren Huston on Direct Bookings vs OTAs says emphatically that is the cheapest way for hotels to market: “First of all, we always pride ourselves on being the cheapest way to do your marketing. If you ask any owner, or any hotel, why they’re all on, when they can all leave tomorrow, the reason is, it’s the cheapest way to do paid marketing.” He says.

Well that is a bold statement. But is it true?

Is he saying that OTAs are the cheapest paid marketing, or that his company, an OTA, is a better deal that all the other OTAs. The later is simply not correct, I know of hotels that deal with both Expedia and and both require the same 15% commission. Now that 15% can vary, and it does, across the landscape. 15% is just a starting rate, it goes up for better placement and additional marketing options, and there are differences in the way they work. But, I think we need some more comment from Darren if he really means is a cheaper than all OTAs and all other alternatives.

OTAs are a vital part of the marketing mix, but are they cheaper than all direct marketing? Maybe yes if you are comparing to Google Adwords paid adverting but what about Social Media Ads, Search Engine Marketing (SEO) and content marketing.  Maybe in some cases but not in all. Its also important to remember that hotels need to build their own brand identity, integrety and loyalty and that means having a direct marketing plan.

Dubai Hoteliers are Advanced

In the interview with Sarah Williams, October 21st, 2015 Daren is speaking about the experience in Dubai where he was Huston explore new venues, and about “Priceline Group’s recent activity includes launching a new B2B booking vertical, Booking for Business, as well as restaurant booking site”. The group’s websites include,,,, and It is an interesting discussion from the point of view of what is happening in Dubai and how advanced hoteliers are there in understanding the online and e-commerce perspective.

“The amazing thing about Dubai is that it’s one of the most mobile cities in the world. In fact, for [], we get a higher percentage of mobile bookings in Dubai than any big city in the world.” he told Sarah Williams

Understanding Direct VS OTA Distribution Trade-offs

Marketing and Brand Integrety

Marketing and Brand Integrity

From an international marketing perspective we were interested in his comments on markets and the ongoing discussion of balance for hotel direct bookings vs OTAS. As he put it: “The hospitality industry has often discussed the vs OTA struggle, as well as vs, but it’s also true that OTAs struggle to sign up hoteliers.”

He also commented that “anyone who really knows the industry knows it’s about getting a healthy balance” and offers “even direct bookings aren’t free. You’ve got customer service. You’ve got maybe a points or a mileage programme. You’ve got all sorts of things you do on that side, too.”

Brand Integrity

Hoteliers big and small are trying to build their direct business as it has a number of advantages and its not all all all to do with price. It’s actually more to do with control, and brand integrity.

Ownership of the customer base, maintenance of Brand identity and the ability to resell, up-sell, head of objections and capture leads and convert prospect is not something that hotels should give up even if they love the OTAs. OTAs are quick to offer alternative hotels and often treat rooms as a commodity across all brands.

See our Previous Post on How to Target direct bookings at

For the full article on Daren Huston on Direct Bookings vs OTAs and his visit to Dubai see the article on

Priceline profit tops estimates as bookings rise

Priceline profit tops estimates as bookings rise | Reuters.

It seems that edgy and funy ads is paying of for price line.

Darren Huston, CEO of Priceline, the former chief of, “added that advertising for was paying off in the United States”. The company has beat expectations and growth in strong.

Online travel within travel is very strong, and within online travel, people are turning to OTAs even more,” Huston said. “It’s a combination of those things that I think have led to a pretty healthy environment for all the players in this space.”

5 Best Travel Ads to Watch

5 Best Travel Ads to Watch This Week – Skift.

Which of these 5 video ads do like best?

My vote is – I loved their last ad in 2013 (below) and this one makes me laugh. Its so tongue-in-cheek and silly, yet you get the message that they care. They don’t take themselves to seriously staying in contact with the child inside!

You can see the ad in the link to the 5 top above, and because I like it its also in one of our blogs

Here is the previous advertisement in 2013

You can detect the same deference but not so extreme!

On the subject of video working as a marketing strategy for tourism – see our blog on search ranking made easier with videos

Booking Epic Another fantastic ad by Booking’com

▶ 2014 TV commercial: "Booking Epic" – YouTube.

I love their ads, they just step out of the mold and dont mind poking fun at anyone including themselves. Going to eat those eggs now!

Kudos to award-winning filmmaker collective Traktor

Filmed in locations in Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand, the jungles and beaches in Bali and in accommodation partners.
Media buying by Wieden+Kennedy New York.

Related – Visual Tourism Marketing & Bookings technology

The Visual Web

Visual Travel Marketing

Priceline: Now Top of the OTA Pack

Here's how you do it – the online travel playbook according to Priceline,, Agoda, Rentalcars and the rest | Travel Trends.

Its not only because of that changed the way OTA marketed hotels, although that was impressive, its also because they advertise better and spend more, and have more user friendly software and booking systems.

Their Google Adword spend was USD533 million in the 3rd quarter of 2013, up from USD375 million the year before and off line was up almost 500% – to US8.4 million to USD40 million.

The ad is fun and inspiring and now on TV in 40 countries around the globe.

Perhaps the biggest plus for the company is its lifestyle. Employees are empowered to make decision and feel part of an excising company that is making a difference.

Perhaps all that is why Priceline CEO and president Jeff Boyd has handed over control of the company to boss Darren Huston. Boyd will remain chairman and Huston retains his role as CEO.