Independent hospitality businesses want stricter rules on online travel agency (OTA) commission levels, according to a new survey.
The online poll from hospitality digital services firm Umi Digital asked 288 independent accommodation owners about their spending plans and marketing practices.
Almost nine out of ten (87%) owners said that the marketing budgets of big brands and OTAs are making it increasingly difficult for them to compete for online sales. However, 61% of respondents said they still consider OTAs as a necessity and 87% said OTA and third-party commission levels should be capped.
The results come soon after the Office of Fair Trading investigation result, which ruled that the strict rate parity contracts imposed by OTAs were not a barrier to competition.
Steve Lowy, owner of umi Digital, said that hoteliers think of OTAs as a "necessary evil" and claimed that "the OFT judgement [has left] a bitter taste in the mouth" of owners.
He added that hotels can capture guests "by offering amazing service within their product package". Lowy said: "It is essential that the independents empower themselves to increase their direct bookings."
Just last week the OFT closed its investigation into the practices of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and two online travel agents, Booking.com and Expedia, after allegations were made that price fixing between the parties had infringed competition law.
The ruling stated that all hotels and OTAs would be able to offer room-only discounts via membership schemes that would allow customers who had already made one full-price booking to view specific discounts.
However, it was reported at the time that some hoteliers had found the new guidelines confusing.