Book hotel directly, not online,to save

I’m guilty! How many other everyday Australians have unintentionally fallen into the now normalised way of booking accommodation these days?

Trivago, Wotif,, all these and more spring up in front of your very eyes promising the best and cheapest accommodation deals going for any destination you need, so now instead of just ringing the motel like we used to we sit on our IPad’s comparing, scrutinising, going back and forward to save probably no more than $20 a night when we could just ring the motel direct and get the same very price! Seems crazy really.

But like an avid letter writer to the advocate last week commented “ The vast majority of Australian consumers give zero thought to their purchase decision making other than price and convenience, hence they will sell out an Aussie farmer for 50 cents on a tin of canned vegetables. Very little, if any at all, is given to the social or economic impacts of these decisions.”

Entrepreneur Dick Smith has slammed online travel agencies (OTA’s) such as Expedia and for “exploiting and extorting” Australian hotel and motel owners and has called on consumers to boycott the services.

The outspoken businessman believes small businesses across the country are being shafted by the online booking giants, which he says are charging owners exorbitant rates for booking referrals.

“Motels are forced to sign up, or they won’t get business,” Smith told SmartCompany after posting an online video about the issue.

“In the 1950s, if hotels didn’t pay criminal gangs money their premises were burnt down … it’s similar,” he said. “They’ve worked out a way of extorting money from small Australian businesses.”

But despite being popular with consumers, the business owners SmartCompany spoke to said the services have been a curse, rather than a blessing, on the local accommodation industry.

“They’re ripping us off,” Golden Hill Motel owner Mark Henderson says.

Several owners reported paying anywhere from a 12–17% commission on booking referrals through OTA’s.

Another motel owner, Charlie Loftus, says customers had been “brainwashed” into thinking OTA’s were cheaper than direct booking.

Speaking to the Guardian Australia, Rod Sims, the chairman of the ACCC, said there’s a “very good chance you’ll get a much better price” if you chose to forgo trawling the booking sites and book direct. The Guardian conducted a survey to test this one out and found that across four capital cities, you can save up to 18 per cent in some states when you book over the phone, compared with and

“Once you find a hotel you want, ring them up,” Sims told the Guardian.

Richard Munro of Accommodation Association of Australia (AAA) has also joined Smith in calling on consumers to boycott booking sites for “extorting” small businesses, for reasons of a similar theme

It would be interesting to hear what more the motel industry itself has to say or can do about the issue, but for mine as a consumer, anything that helps make small businesses more profitable has to be a good!