Book Direct and Keep it Local!
I am deviating from my norm of writing about things to do in Albuquerque and Central New Mexico, in order to bring you another message related to travel – online booking companies. The reason I bring this up is because so many guests at our bed and breakfast in Albuquerque had no clue what it means for a small business like our to use these kinds of booking websites.
Did you know…
- Booking through sites like Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity, Orbitz, BedandBreakfast.com, Hotels.com and Booking.com means the property you are booking with pays a commission of up to 35% to that company? Ouch!
- You will most always get the same deal, and may often get a better deal, if you book directly from the property’s website?
- There are often more rooms and date choices on the property’s own website than what shows up on these sites, and if the property shows up not having rooms on your date with the big online sites, it is usually not so if you viist the property’s own website or call?
- That the host communities are often being cheated out of the taxes that you ARE paying?
As a small inn owner, I would have to pay up to 1/3 of my income for the privilege of using one of these sites to book guests. I used to do it, but not anymore. You may not think this is such a big deal, but it really adds up no matter what the size of your lodging establishment, especially considering we also have to give our first born to the credit card companies in fees and percentages. So you may ask, why do inns do it? There are many reasons.
Exposure – being listed on these web sites offers an inn exposure they may never attain on their own, but it certainly comes at a price, and once you are entered into the GDS (Global distribution System) it is nearly impossible to be removed. If you try, your property most often shows up as “full” or “no rooms available” for many, many years, all over the internet. Bummer, huh?
To fill up rooms in slow seasons – Sounds like a good idea, but again, since the inn always controls what kind of rooms and the number of rooms available at any given time, the information on the booking site may be inaccurate.
Branding – Some property owners believe that it’s better to have your name everywhere, for name recognition and “branding. There is some logic to this but with good SEO, (search engine optimization) done by a reputable company that knows your industry and does not employ “Black Hat” tactics, b&bs and small inns will get the branding and name recognition they need naturally.
No choice – many properties feel they have no choice but to list with booking web sites because their competition is doing it. I have nothing to say to this other than paying for good SEO is better than paying Expedia and the like, (in my opinion). Small lodging properties should try to get exposure elsewhere. A pay-per-click campaign on Google is money better spent than giving it up as commission to the big corporations, but do us a favor – if you see our paid listing, (Sponsor Listing) and our regular listing is on the same search result page…click that instead!
Keep it Local! – When you book and pay for a room directly with the property you assure that the taxes you will pay, no matter who you book through, will stay in the community to help pay for safety, structure and other community services. Millions of tourism dollars are lost every year to online/out of state booking companies. Read here about what is happening in Hawaii alone, not to mention other states. These online booking companies don’t believe they are doing anything wrong, and are operating within the letter of the law, but they are not winning all the cases out there. Don’t give them a chance to keep it all – book directly with the property!
Support small businesses! – Keep it simple, keep it local, and support small businesses like Independent Inns and Bed and Breakfasts by saying NO to the “book now” button unless you are on the lodging property’s own website.
If you like using lodging directories, my personal favorite is BnBFinder.com, because they are very easy to use, they are a small business too, and they will direct you to the property website instead of luring you in with a commission based booking system “book now” button that lets them keep the taxes. BnBFinder even has a great mobile app! The represent small inns, resorts and bed and breakfasts. Something for everyone – Try them…you’ll love this site!
Another way to help small lodging properties is to offer to pay by personal check. Not all properties prefer this form of payment, but many do and it never hurts to ask.
Support small business! Keep it Local!
Thanks for reading!