We are occasionally contacted and asked about "special deals" that may have been featured on online travel booking sites. We reconfirm the simple truth that guests will always get the best possible rate when booking with us directly. Inspired by these questions, we have drawn up an online hotel and travel trade booking guide to help explain how the travel industry works. Independent travellers and rental owners have found the information useful, so we are pleased to offer access to the guide below.
The global online travel and tourism market is one of the world's highest value industry sectors. The name of the game in the industry is commission. Online Travel Agents (OTAs), travel agencies (TAs), tour operators (TOs), hotel booking engines and review sites all share the goal of delivering a travel product to the consumer - in return for a commission from the service provider.
In this respect, online car rental agencies and air travel consolidators have shaped the way in which vacation rentals, holiday lets and hotels are booked, in a manner that is often opaque to the buyer or holidaymaker. The latter may remain blissfully unaware that up to 30% or more of the cost of the service booked online may be destined not to the service provider, but to the agent, or that booking direct can often ensure that the same service may be purchased either at a better price, or on more attractive terms.
Furthermore, the travel marketplace is now also being impacted by the major social media networks such as Facebook and Google, whilst independent holiday rental sites and what were formerly print-only travel guides have been the targets of takeovers by some of the world's largest corporations.
Forearmed is forewarned. Understanding who owns what, what marketing ploys are used to lure you into making a travel purchase, and an awareness of the commissions you are paying will enable you to negotiate the best possible deal. The savvy traveller remains a consumer, without being consumed.
Imagine you are selling two identical cars. You ask a garage owner to display one on his forecourt, and agree a 20% commission if he sells it for you. The other you continue to use as normal but display a "For Sale" notice in the window, with your mobile number. Both are advertised at the same price. If a buyer contacts you directly, you will be much more likely to include a free tank of fuel as an incentive. The direct sale means both vendor and buyer win.
The individual holiday rental owner, or the small hotel manager, needs to understand online travel distribution and some of the tricks of the trade in order to hone his or her presentation of their own product. With a window onto how others are marketing their vacation rental property or hotel, the owner is best placed to make decisions best suited to his or her own accommodation and situation.
Our 20 page PDF guide to some of the secrets of the online travel market and hotel or holiday rental marketing aims to be of value to both the consumer (anyone booking a hotel car or vacation rental) and to the accommodation owner (the end service provider.) It includes sections such as:
- Who controls the travel market?
- The Pay per Click Hijack
- It’s not Where You’re are Going: It’s Where You Are
- Who Are You Booking Through?
- Rate Parity:" Transparency or Obfuscation?
- When a special Offer is not a special Offer
- Room Categories and the Art of the Upsell
- Forward Selling and Package Psychology
- Opaque Channels: The plot sickens.
- Length of Stay
- Buy - Don’t be sold to!
Where online travel services work well, they can provide an easy and seamless way to book travel or holiday accommodation at a rate no higher than that offered by the service provider itself. Indeed, in some cases, where price is the only consideration, they may even permit the holidaymaker to purchase, for example, an internationally branded hotel room at a rate that is actually lower than that offered by the hotel itself. But understanding some of the tricks of the trade will almost always enable the buyer to make a more informed decision, based upon his or her own requirements.