ASTA has issued the following statement in regards to what it calls Marriott Hotel’s misleading direct booking campaign.
“Suppliers have the right to market their product however they choose, as long as the advertisements are legal and truthful. Marriott’s new marketing campaign, which tells consumers that they can only find the best rates on Marriott.com, is not only disparaging to travel agents, but also misleading to the traveling public,” said ASTA president Zane Kerby.
He added, “Professional travel agents help consumers distinguish what brand may be the right fit for them based on the buyer’s stated preferences and budget. In doing so, agents do not disparage an entire brand. They use their information sources, expertise and judgment to help consumers make the choice that is best for them in a marketplace teeming with options. This advice often involves price, but is also based on other factors that the consumer values. Therefore, it is incomprehensible that Marriott would position itself as just another price-driven brand while intentionally disparaging the same professional travel agents that Marriott selects to help market its services.
“This Marriott marketing campaign sends the message to consumers that the ‘best’ rates can only be found by booking direct. This statement is simply not true. Professional travel agents, using numerous tools at their disposal, have access to Marriott inventory at the same prices that appear on Marriott’s web site. ASTA calls upon Marriott to withdraw this marketing campaign immediately. ASTA will continue to educate the consumer about the breadth of experience and value that ASTA travel agents provide the traveling public. We will continue to resist in every available forum attempts to limit consumer choice. The consumer is best served by full access to comparative information and professional help. The professional travel agent is the best search engine the consumer can find.”