Recently we extended an upgrade to a guest “just as a gift from us”. The guest said it was appreciated, but that of if course it was a gift frombooking.com or expedia or whichever agency it was. It does seem that some travellers consider these Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) as their white knight, fighting for them on behalf of otherwise ungenerous or unscrupulous hoteliers….
So far from the truth.
The OTAs are very valuable to hotels, but the relationship is very much love – hate. It is not that we resent their existence. Far from it. They provide a valuable service to travellers and hotels.
What all hotels resent is the lack of transparency of what they do and what they charge and their huge commission levels, which inevitably mean higher charges for travellers.
The transparency issue has several aspects. One is that hotels can pay for more visibility, so OTAs recommendations are not presented in order of merit. The second is an issue of honesty – one (very) major OTA regularly posts prices that are misleading (not available, not relevant, suggesting they are cheaper than competition, which they are not).
As for commission levels, our guests are always very shocked to learn of rates of 25-30%. These are standard and are incredibly high. They affect the price of your room and they affect the levels of service and amenities that your hotel can afford to provide, not to mention affecting the viability of some hotels…
So, pending the inevitable day that OTAs are forced to lower their rates and become better partners to travellers and hoteliers, please contact your hotel directly – you will find they will be grateful, will always offer you as good a rate as anywhere else, and usually a better rate…