We all have been seeing and hearing all kinds of comments about the role of OTAs and the unilateral measures that they have taken during this COVID 2019 Crisis.
I can understand, as I’m sure many professionals from this sector do, that errors in panic can be made, especially at the beginning when uncertain events were one after another.
First, some OTAs accepted cancellations and partial reimbursements to guests, but they kept the service fees for themselves, pointing to the need to pay their operational expenses and employees as justification.
Later, a full reimbursement was suggested to customers and the relationship between Property Managers and OTAs blew up into pieces as cancellation policies were not respected.
I will not name names, the sector knows who, when and how.
In my professional experience, and because I know many of the people working for those OTAs and I know their personal and professional contributions to our sector, I must say that we should not stigmatize OTAs now.
Obviously, as 99% of the sector believes, I also think the OTAs were wrong. At the first sign of trouble, you don’t let down your partners and save indistinctly only your “customers,” the Property Manger´s Guests.
It seems that these actions had a lack of justice, and for this reason, there are people at this moment preparing lawful action against these OTAs. It seems that it will be up to the justice system to determine if what they did was legal or not.
One thing is for sure, there has been a breach of trust and credit from the sector to one of the main pillars – OTAs. However, we should not have hard feelings at this moment, instead, wait until the justice system comes to a determination. Let’s see how OTAs may compensate this mess.
The ones primarily responsible for making these decisions at the OTAs should consider stepping down from their duties. Other people that were not involved in making these decisions, many of them good friends and fantastic professionals, should not suffer the stigma caused by the primary decision-makers.
Let us leave bridges with those professionals and fantastic contributors to our sector because any chance to recover with high expectancy will be with OTAs. Alternatively, it may be much more difficult to recover without them.
In my opinion, many people showed their true colors during this crisis. Unfortunately, some people only want to protect their own interests, ignoring the fact that whatever their interests are, we are all in the same boat. Those selfish actions had a huge negative effect on our sector in the end, not just at the individual level.
I have seen how some companies used this crisis to “clean house” or restructure, and used it as a perfect excuse. Others have done well, making internal changes to reduce costs, but they have protected their most valuable pillar, the human capital, the partnerships developed during the past 6 years.
It is not time to cut heads, now is the time to help each other and save this sector. Every single decision counts, especially from the main “Big Players.”