• Natalie


Updated: Jun 12

In April 2016, Google began listing accommodation search results based only on OTA availability. (OTA = Online Travel Agent; i.e. Booking .com, TripAdvisor, Expedia, Hotels .com, AirBnb .com etc).

If accommodation providers don't opt in to be 'partners' with these OTA's, and agree to hand over commissions of up to 18% on bookings, just to be visible, then they inevitably won’t show up in the Google search results - leading to dwindling bookings and a suffering business.

This seemingly simple search results change from Google hit the independent accommodation industry hard.

We should remember that it’s not free for these OTA’s to be at the top of every Google search result - they pay to be there. (And have you ever noticed how it’s ALWAYS the same OTA’s at the top of every result?)

How do these companies afford this elaborate and very expensive advertising?

They pass the costs on to you, the consumer. And not in a very open way. You think you’re getting the best deal by booking through them. You are often not.

Think of it this way;

What would cost you £85 a night if you book direct, could cost you around £99 using an OTA.

What would cost you £130 a night if you book direct, could cost you around £152 using an OTA.

What would cost you £385 a night if you book direct, could cost you around £450 using an OTA.

You get the idea… but why is this?

As well as taking the chunk of commission from the accommodation provider, many OTA's also charge service fees (or similarly named) to their customers which are often bundled in with the "nightly rate" they display, leaving most customers thinking thats the rate the accommodation provider is charging. Wrong.

Booking sites are a flashy, complex web of illusion designed to lure in customers, and in reality they only cause an overall inflated cost of accommodation to consumers, whilst shouting from the rooftops that they're your friend.

But there’s a movement growing. The #BookDirect movement.

It's a fact that many accommodation providers offer a discount of at least 10% off of their advertised OTA rates if you book direct, they don’t charge service or booking fees, and may even throw in a free room upgrade. So, it works out you could save up to 25% if you book direct as an alternative to booking through an OTA.

Its common in this industry to apply the same cancellation policy to all bookings, whether they come direct or via an OTA meaning your consumer rights are not affected. You get the same (or better) package, and protection, than if you’d booked through an OTA - just cheaper!

But the best thing about booking direct? You’re directly supporting an independent business, meaning they can provide better and more luxurious experience for their guests by investing that 18% back into their rooms, their staff, and their service.

Prior to taking on the running of a B&B, I’d always used OTA’s to book my trips away, but now I know a bit more about how this system works, I’ll be using them more as a directory and will always be booking direct from now on.

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