Why we love direct bookings.....
Online Travel Agents v’s Booking Direct
Online Travel Agents (OTAs) such as booking dot com and expedia are often a travellers first port of call when searching online for accommodation. OTAs have been in the news recently being accused of misleading sales strategies. Here’s a link to Huffpost’s coverage earlier this month.
The Competition and Markets Authority have followed up concerns of pressure selling by OTAs with banners highlighting the scarcity of rooms available or showing price alterations to encourage on the spot bookings.
OTAs plough large marketing budgets into online advertising to ensure they are always at the top of search results. It’s almost impossible for any accommodation provider to be listed above OTAs in the results. Not many people spot the little Advert symbol near the link to their site. Not even mainstream international hotel chains can beat the OTAs in the search results. Small independents have no chance of competing.
On the plus side, OTAs are particularly good at helping bookers find places to select from. As an independent business, we always encourage people to book direct - maybe search the OTAs for different options but it will generally pay you to contact your chosen accommodation direct to make your reservation. At the Red Lion this can be done by phone or via our own website booking engine.
OTAs fund their advertising indirectly from their booking customers - they levy commission on each booking made and bill the accommodation provider. This commission varies but is typically between 15-20%. Add this commission to the VAT man’s slice and anywhere between 35-40% of the money you pay for your stay goes directly to the Government and the OTA. If you pay £100, it’s typical for your accommodation provider to only retain £65. That’s money that could be reinvested in your accommodation or used for staff training and the like.
At the Red Lion we alway prefer direct bookings. Like other providers, we have a direct booking discount code RED10 which can be used either on our own website or over the telephone. We will regularly try to upgrade guests to a superior room where we have one available at the time of booking.