No Vacancy for Middlemen: Will This New Partnership Save the NYC Hospitality Industry?

Traveling in New York City and beyond is stressful AF. No, we’re not even talking about elbowing past glacial-paced tourists in Penn Station or getting stuck in Midtown traffic. 

We’re talking about merely booking a room in the first place, whether it's for you (lookin' at you doe-eyed traveler hoping to make it big [or at all] in The Big Apple), or fam that's coming to visit you faster than you think. 

Everybody wants to give you the best deal—or at least that's what they claim for the most part, but do any of these sites actually give a damn about the hospitality industry? 

We shouldn't have to question whether the mediocre deal we settled for is even legit or why the room we just booked is suddenly offering a massive discount through a different site. WHAT IS REAL ANYMORE?

Instead, throw it back to one of the OG names in hospitality industries, the Hotel Association of New York City (HANYC), one of the oldest professional trade associations in the nation. They recently partnered up with Kognitiv, a leader in collaborative commerce, to launch

The site is a full service, one-stop booking site featuring all of New York City's best hotels.

The site provides nearly 300 member hotels with a direct-to-consumer platform where they can advertise up-to-the-minute deals on rooms and other attractions, organized by neighborhood and by experience.


Basically, you’ll have access to sweet hotel discounts the moment they are available, without having to go through third-party Online Travel Agencies (OTA's). 

What's third-party OTA? Think of Trivago, and other sites that consolidate hotel bookings from all over the web into one destination. They position their platforms as a place where you can bypass the headaches of searching endlessly for good deals, offering you the absolute cheapest rate you can find. 

They're middlemen, they're not always in the loop, and they don't really care where you stay. is basically cutting out that unnecessary middleman in order to deliver the the city’s best possible offers for accommodations.

Ashwin Kamlani, Executive Vice President of Hospitality at Kognitiv, says, "We are excited to be a part of this new initiative that gives New York City hoteliers their own distribution channel that opens a wealth of opportunities to attract travelers by booking through the Hotel Association, assuring them of quality, credibility and integrity with their choice of accommodations."


Why does it matter? 

We spoke with Vijay Dandapani, HANYC President & CEO, to get a little more info on not only this initiative, but why it's necessary.  

"The biggest thing when it comes to the success of these 3rd party OTA's is that they have a large digital platform and they spend millions in advertising every year," Dandapani said. 

"We can look at a consequence of that and see that maybe a hotel gets 90% of their bookings from these 3rd-party OTA's, and that's great; they're getting visibility. But then it adds up when 20% of that revenue goes back to them as part of their commission."

So... it's not really in the hotels' best interest when they're primarily seeing bookings through a platform that has its hand in everybody's pocket. 

"Not only that, but it's a huge opportunity cost when it comes to the data. Your data ends up remaining the property of that OTA rather than the hotel that's taken care of you. It's purposely done that way. They're basically saying, 'This is my customer. It's not yours.'"

When it comes to taking on that challenge head on, the first obstacle is simply creating a platform that can at once compete with these OTAs' functions and provide a much needed service to travelers looking for accommodations in this city. 

And then it's keeping them by demonstrating a commitment to the stability of the hospitality industry in New York City. Among future developments, HANYC has already teamed up with the New York Hospitality Industry to create lasting partnerships with any purveyor of hospitality to create a healthier industry altogether. 

"With, Kognitiv offers New York City hoteliers a turnkey travel program for the Hotel Association that will better connect customers directly with local hotels instead of passing through third-parties who can sometimes be disreputable or advertise deals that aren't one hundred percent accurate," Dandapani said in a previous press release. 

It's about transparency. "That's exactly what it's about," he told us. 

As far as how this initiative will develop over time, it comes back to improving the customer experience and adding value to it by providing specific, exclusive deals you wouldn't find through these OTA's, across every facet of the hospitality industry. 

So get ready to treat yourself to a weekend staycation in a swanky Soho suite, or book a trip for Mom and Dad to come visit for the holidays—completely stress-free. 

Do it through and you can do it with the peace of mind that comes with knowing you're helping NYC's hospitality industry directly. Oh, of course if it's about saving money, remember that through a third-party OTA you might not actually be getting the deal they advertised. 

Good luck with that. 

[Feature Image Courtesy Business Insider]