Discussion pivoted on distribution during a panel session at the International Hotel Investment Forum, here at the InterContinental Berlin. Who, then, owns the customer? The debate ensued. "We are all taking the battle seriously over the retention of the customer," said Carol Dodds, VP of commercial for Interstate Hotels & Resorts. The company, which manages more than 400 hotels globally, receives a broad range of OTA contribution, but it varies per market, Dodds said. "The core brand is winning the mid-week battle," she continued. "Where the brand struggles is over leisure demand times. When customers are looking for an experience and there is more selection, then they go with third parties." "Customers have learned that it's about how to find a really good rate," said Daniel Holl, head of global hotel sales at metasearch site Trivago. "Our biggest challenge is to personalize the search and enable customers to find a suitable hotel based off their preferences." In the realm of digital travel bookings, Google is the 800-pound elephant in the room. But according to Ruairidh Roberts, industry head for travel at Google, the search behemoth has no intention of becoming an OTA. "We don't fulfill transactions and have no ambition to fulfill holidays," he said. Instead, Roberts underscored platforms like Google Trips as a way Google inserts itself into the travel conversation, by offering consumers inspiration. Get the full story at Hotel Management