"We have always encouraged our employees, and especially front-desk people, to motivate customers to book directly with us," said Joseph Smith, executive VP of Greenbelt, Maryland-based Chesapeake Hospitality, which manages 21 U.S. properties. One key reason: Direct bookings help build genuine customer relationships as opposed to simply logging a booking. A consequence of the Internet age, Smith said, is that traditional hospitality relationships have been reduced to mere transactions. The simplest, most effective way to engage and educate guests who initially booked via an online-travel agency is to inform them that, contrary to a widespread myth, the lowest rate available will be offered direct. That's because typical rate-parity agreements specify that, while they can offer the same rate, no third-party seller can offer a rate lower than the supplier. Get the full story at HotelNewsNow.com