Hotels have a mix of sales strategies. (Image shows Hotel Hoposa Pollentia in Puerto Pollensa.) |


Last week, it was revealed that faces a fine of 486 million euros imposed by Spain's National Markets and Competition Commission (CMNC), the largest fine ever handed out by the commission.

Booking, which is expected to challenge the fine in the courts, has factored it into its accounts, the CMNC having opened proceedings against the online travel agency (OTA) in October 2022. The company is accused of anti-competitive practices, an abuse of a dominant market position and application of unfair conditions on hotels.

Financial dependence of hotels in Spain on Booking, according to the CNMC, "constitutes an act of unfair competition that can distort free competition and affect the public interest".

The dependence that hotels have come to have on the likes of Booking and Tripadvisor is a key reason why they are investing heavily in direct sales strategies.

As an example, Manel Nicolau, the vice-president of the Cala d'Or Hoteliers Association says that there has been an increase in the number of customers going directly to hotels' websites.

This said, it's not as if hotels are about to abandon OTAs. In the case of Riu, it has a mix of sales strategies but does point to an increase in direct sales.

María Frontera, president of the Mallorca Hoteliers Federation, says that hotels are putting ever more effort into direct sales but without neglecting other channels. "The sector is transforming and technology is helping companies to get closer to the customer, to know them better and to improve the experience."

Nicolau notes that hotels once used to rely mainly on tour operators. But this is changing due to the growth of independent travel.

Since 2016, the Balearic Statistics Institute has kept records which indicate that holiday packages now represent 34% of all bookings whereas they stood at 40% eight years ago.