What’s the big deal of booking direct and why is it important? Well, there’s a war going on between the OTA (online travel agency) industry and B&B owners nationwide. Unfortunately we are losing! We are pleading for you, loyal B&B fans, to BOOK DIRECT. When you are online, choose your booking engine carefully. Here’s why: Expedia, the well-known billion-dollar travel booking site, is working hard to take complete control of lodging reservations online, including small B&B’s like ours. Expedia, Hotels.com, Travelocity and other travel networks are misrepresenting themselves as the direct website of the hotel or lodging choice. Unfortunately, most people booking online don’t even know it’s happening.
What this means to you and why you should care. While larger lodging corporations can fight back, smaller mom and pop B&B’s like ours cannot. We just don’t have the time or the resources. As innkeepers, we’re too busy trying to take good care of our guests. Some of us also also have an entire farm to care for, leaving little time for much else. In providing a unique farm to table experience for our guests we always hope that we will be remembered in an online search. And we we hope that our logo and name are unique enough to set us apart. But we know convenience sometimes takes precedence.
Booking through a hand-held device: Because people are in a hurry, they tend to book their stays through their hand-held devices. But because of the small screen it can look like they are on a direct website. However, what it means for you in the end is escalating room rates and in some cases, lower quality guest experiences. For example, if a B&B Owner has to make a choice between upgrading worn linens and towels or perhaps purchasing better ingredients for a higher quality breakfast instead of advertising, they may have to choose the latter in order to keep the doors open. In worst case scenarios, it means the end of the B&B which isn’t good for anyone.
How can someone be so easily misled? It happens – even our own repeat guests have been misled. Our own loyal guests have booked repeat stays with us through Expedia thinking it was our direct website. Please make sure you BOOK DIRECT! When a B&B receives a reservation through Expedia or another OTA, it means a commission of 18%. This commission would not have to be paid if the guest booked through our site. Sometimes what appears to be our website is actually the Expedia designed website for The Speckled Hen Inn (or other B&B) which redirects the reservation through their site. It looks similar – the photos are copied from our website and it all looks legit, but it’s not our site. This happened three times just last week alone.
What can you do? Booking Direct is Important! When you are looking online for a bed and breakfast and see one that you like, don’t just click on that link. Take a moment and enter THE SPECIFIC BED & BREAKFAST NAME into the Google search instead of just typing “B&B’s in hometown USA” and then quickly clicking on the first link that appears. You will realize when you are on the direct website when you know what you are looking for.