Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jetsetter Speaks Out at HEDNA on Marketing and Distribution

Jetsetter CEO Drew Patterson was a panelist at this week's HEDNA convention in Las Vegas and had some great insights into marketing, distribution and revenue management.

Drew began his remarks with an observations that what is really missing in the online travel industry today is inspiration. Paraphrasing, the major OTAs are not really about exciting people to travel or getting them to book an incremental trip - they are largely order takers. (My words, not Drew's!)

Drew's comments are similar (but not as blunt) to Harrah's CEO and President Gary Loveman's remarks at this year's PhoCusWright conference during which he lamented that the OTA industry has done little to actually drive tourism and increase trips - most energy (in his opinion) is spent on beating up one another (OTA vs. OTA as well as OTA vs. supplier) vs. actually driving and inspiring consumers to travel (and stay in his hotels, obviously.)

Drew also commented on the often difficult relationship between Revenue Management and Marketing within the hotel industry. In Drew's words, "RM and marketing have to work in partnership to stimulate activity. Lowering rates without communicating the price change just dilutes an existing customer base. At the same time, marketing communication without value or a reason is a waste of money because consumers will see through it. The two have to be integrated to have an impact." Sage advice for hoteliers and distribution partners.

Clearly, Jetsetter aims to solve for these issues, but they alone can't be the total answer for what ails the industry today. (Drew has big plans but it is a big world out there.) Will anyone step up in 2010?


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  2. I don't think you need to be a "Jetsetter" to make such a statement.

    There is nothing new under the sun for big OTAs because 2009 was about making the numbers. It was about making sure you stay focused on what you do best in order to survive the recession.

    It doesn't mean that some R&D wasn't done at OTAs. I am sure some OTAs have some nice features or new products in the pipeline for next year. Another point is that OTAs shouldn't be restricted to the big names like Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity. They are also some very exciting brand new players in the online travel industry (if there is such an industry) with limited funding and they are already deploying some very interesting value proposition to consumers. Examples? TripIt, WAYN, TvTrip, Zoombu, Isango, LikeCube...and more.

    So watch this space and let's see some innovation in 2010.

    Founder and Editor at

  3. I would agree, OTAs in 2009 were mainly idle (though investing in R&D for some) and lacking inspiration (order takers is one way to describe them indeed).

    But as Guillaume says, there's some exciting things happening and some good R&D effort taking place.

    For once, searching for a trip is going to change significantly. What Amazon has experienced with using personalized recommendations (they attribute about 30% of their sale to it), the OTAs are about to experience. Personalized recommendations is one thing missing in the travel industry. It isn't simple to do, because one needs to understand people's taste to deliver very meaningful data, one that has the potential to be trusted.
    But with the vast amount of UGC nowdays agregated, better categorizations of hotels and advances in personalized recommendation technologies, this is becoming more of a reality. Personalization is going to transform the way we find hotels, shortening the path between the intention and the result.

    As Nova Spivack, a leading voice on search, collective intelligence and the Semantic Web, recently wrote in his blog (, "search is in the way between intention and action" [...] "the goal should really be to get search out of the way, to minimize the need to search, and to make any search that is necessary as productive as possible. The goal should be to get consumers to what they really want with the least amount of searching and the least amount of effort, with the greatest amount of confidence that the results are accurate and comprehensive."

    Personalization is on the radar for OTAs in 2010. Watch this space as Guillaume says!

    Emmanuel Marchal
    Managing Director at