eVOC Insights, a customer experience consulting firm, and RelevantView, a technology provider of Web-based research solutions, released a new syndicated lodging report, "The Battle for Loyalty - Online Travel Agencies vs. Suppliers".

This report compares the customer experience between leading online travel agencies and lodging suppliers - Expedia, Hotels.com, Marriott, Hilton, Starwood - to identify what factors drive purchase preference and determine whether loyalty exists when travel sites reach price parity.

With more than 150 million consumers shopping for travel on the Web and over $70 billion in online revenue forecasted for 2006, competition between online travel agencies and suppliers is fierce. Online travel agencies are feeling the pressure from suppliers, most notably airline and lodging suppliers, as consumers are beginning to migrate to suppliers to research and book travel. Lodging suppliers pose the greatest threat, as consumers are seeking more than just competitive prices when making a purchase decision for hotel accommodations.

This competitive lodging report explores this trend and addresses the following questions:

- Will the trend towards suppliers continue or will OTAs prevail?

- Are users likely to research lodging on one travel site and purchase on the other?

- What factors impact the purchase decision - price, content, functionality, rewards?

- How effective are loyalty programs for attracting and retaining customers?

- Are loyalty members really loyal?

The report helps travel and lodging providers maximize the effectiveness of the online channel by providing a clear understanding of the customer decision process relative to the competition. Unlike other methodologies, this research combines behavioral and attitudinal metrics to understand the thoughts, actions and preferences of consumers as they interact head-to-head with OTAs and suppliers.

Highlights from this report include:

- Consumers are initially more likely to prefer purchasing from a supplier directly, than an OTA; Although, after experiencing the sites, overall purchase intent on leading OTAs outperforms suppliers

- Supplier loyalty programs are a key differentiator; Loyalty members will pay more for hotel accommodations and are twice as likely to return, purchase and recommend as non-loyalty members

- However, loyalty membership does not guarantee purchases; 48% of Marriott Rewards members and 44% of Starwood Preferred Guest members would prefer to purchase from Expedia or Hotels.com than the supplier after experiencing each of the sites

Download an abstract of the report at RelevantView