The online hotel bookings business is a ripe target for brandjacking, but it is brand- jacking of a different nature than we have seen in previous studies: Unnecessary commission payments and online traffic lost to competitors are costing major hotel brands more than two billion dollars a year. More than 580 million visits from highly- qualified travelers are siphoned away from the hotel brands’ online bookings sites to those of channel and marketing partners—or competitors—who reach customers first through paid search advertising and other online marketing tactics. “ How many of us recall that it wasn’t too long ago when we used local travel agents and paper tickets to book our trips? Those days seem so quaint now, and while online bookings have given consumers more choices and opportunities for savings, online bookings have also enabled various entities to profit from hijacking the click- stream searching for hotel brands. To some degree, the travel industry is a victim of its own online success in e-com- merce. Online bookings grew from 33% of all bookings in 2007 to 40% in 2010, and another quarter of total bookings are influenced by online customer research. This success is not surprising; the leisure travel industry spends $1.8 billion annually in online advertising, with 46 percent allocated to search advertising, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB). The study examined five global hotel brands, running the gamut from economy to luxury, during the early spring of 2011 and scanned various e-commerce sites, con- sumer marketplaces and email campaigns promoting those brands. The study also examined over 1.3 million search ads triggered by nearly 4,000 keyword combina- tions containing the brands, estimated the traffic stream that was generated and annualized the results in order to develop the estimates. As more industries drive their business online, the lessons learned in this huge mar- ketplace can be applied to other industries with a rich mix of channel relationships. This study is not meant to condemn e-commerce; rather, it is meant as a caution- ary tale to help brands keep the customers who are searching for them—and the revenue those customers bring—rather than allowing competitors and partners to siphon them away. Get the full study at MarkMonitor (free registration)