An Examination of the Relationship between Online Travel Agents and Hotels: A Case Study of Choice Hotels International and

Hee Andy Lee, Basak Denizci Guillet, Chun Hung Roberts Law

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


Although traditional travel agents have played an important role as proxies enabling travelers to make connections with hotels, the emergence of the internet has changed the traditional relationship between hotels and travel agents. Instead of a traditional agent-principal relationship, online travel agents (OTAs) seem to act as more than just intermediaries and more as business partners or vendors. Scholars have previously observed troubled, if not hostile, relationships between hotels and OTAs. This article reports a case study analyzing online comments on the 2009 feud between Choice Hotels International and This analysis identified eight themes in three overall categories: the background to the feud (i.e., characteristics of the hotel industry, current business environment, Expedia's business practices), the perspectives of hospitality industry professionals on the feud (i.e., wake-up call for hoteliers, Choice Hotels' decision), and expectations concerning the nature of the relationship between hotels and OTAs (i.e., a symbiotic relationship between hotels and OTAs, experience of dealing with guests who book through OTAs and Expedia, and recommendations for hotels). Chief among the study's conclusions is that hotels must find ways to make the most effective possible use of available technology and distribution channels, and perhaps even form consortia to share information about third-party distribution channels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-107
Number of pages13
JournalCornell Hospitality Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2013


  • agency problems
  • bargaining power
  • Choice Hotels International
  • Expedia
  • online travel agents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

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