In­dus­try backs book­ing sites

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - Therese Col­man

In­dus­try lead­ers are urg­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion providers in the re­gion not to forego book­ing web­sites in a bid to win cus­tomers.

The call comes af­ter busi­ness­man Dick Smith shared a video call­ing out book­ing plat­forms like Tri­vago, book­ing.com and Ex­pe­dia for “rip­ping off” small ac­com­mo­da­tion providers.

“When 50 per cent of Aus­tralians book, up to 30 per cent, some­times more, is sent to these huge Amer­i­can multi­na­tion­als and con­trolled by a cou­ple of un­be­liev­ably rich bil­lion­aires,” he said.

“Fifty per cent of Aus­tralians now use these web­sites be­cause they’ve fallen for the lie they’re cheaper and it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to find the fam­ily busi­ness web­site. Mil­lions and mil­lions of dol­lars that should stay in our coun­try towns is be­ing shipped off . . . it’s the same as ex­tor­tion be­cause it’s not done in a vol­un­tary way.”

Bus­sel­ton Cham­ber of Com­merce chief ex­ec­u­tive Jodie Richards said value for money de­pended on the size of the ac­com­mo­da­tion and whether or not they were a chain.

“I spoke to a num­ber of car­a­van parks last school hol­i­days, two of them said to me, ‘we’re dead, it’s so quiet it’s ridicu­lous’ but an­other one said they were fully booked,” she said.

“Smaller op­er­a­tors that aren’t part of a chain seem to be bet­ter off us­ing a book­ing site. When busi­nesses know it’s go­ing to be quiet they reg­is­ter to book­ing sites and can plan from there.”

Mar­garet River Guest­house coowner Deb­bie Noo­nan said she spent $25,000 on com­mis­sions to book­ing web­sites each year, but “guests . . . will al­ways get a lower tar­iff when book­ing di­rect.”

“Mar­garet River Bus­sel­ton Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion does a lot of pro­mo­tional work for the re­gion,” she said.

“In our case, guests book­ing will al­ways get a lower tar­iff when book­ing di­rect.”

MRBTA joint chief ex­ec­u­tive Sharna Kearny said book­ing chan­nels were im­por­tant in grow­ing ex­po­sure for the re­gion.

“Al­most all ac­com­mo­da­tion providers are try­ing to re­duce their reliance on third par­ties and grow the per­cent­age of di­rect book­ings they re­ceive, and this is best achieved through value-adding and cre­at­ing loy­alty pro­grams for vis­i­tors,” she said.

“Vis­i­tors will choose to book where it is easy, con­ve­nient and they get the best value.

“The use of book­ing chan­nels varies from op­er­a­tor to op­er­a­tor, who are seek­ing to max­imise their rev­enue per avail­able room.”

Ms Richards echoed Ms Kearny’s com­ments and said ac­com­mo­da­tion providers needed to be in­no­va­tive and de­liver good cus­tomer ser­vice for max­i­mum book­ings and re­peat cus­tomers.

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