Online booking systems drive up accommodation prices in the region | Busselton-Dunsborough Courier
Online reservation systems drive up prices for accommodation providers and vacationers in the area by raising the price of hotel rooms sometimes beyond $12,000 a night.
A site search showed a hotel in Margaret River advertised at around $12,500 a night, but if you go directly to the accommodation provider’s website, the same room is advertised for between $199 and $249 a night.
Debbie Noonan, spokesperson for Margaret River Region Registered Accommodation Providers, said business owners became aware of the problem when they started receiving complaints and bad reviews about the quality- price.
Ms Noonan said a business owner contacted an online booking platform that had advertised rooms for $10,000 a night, believing he had made a mistake after charging $200 rates.
After the owner contacted the online booking platform, the room was then advertised at $5,000 later that day.
Ms Noonan said online booking platforms had pocketed the difference and business owners had been none the wiser until people complained about value for money.
“As operators, we pass on our prices in good faith so that online booking platforms advertise the correct prices to the public,” she said.
“It is impossible for accommodation providers to monitor online booking platforms 24/7 and it seems that this price hike is happening during peak hours.
“It seems that online booking platforms are taking advantage of our peak times.”
Although it may seem unethical, a spokesperson for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said the behavior was unlikely to be illegal.
The ACCC spokesman said parity clauses in contracts sometimes compel accommodation providers to offer their best price and availability to online booking sites.
“But an online booking site is unlikely to charge more than a hotel or motel,” the spokesperson said.
“The agreement in place between an online booking site and an accommodation provider will likely define the terms and conditions regarding prices and fees.
“The ACCC encourages Australian consumers to call accommodation providers directly to see if they could get a better deal than what is advertised online.”
Tourism Minister Paul Papalia encouraged holidaymakers to visit the Tourism WA website which linked them directly to WA operators to make reservations.
“While encouraging Western Australians to book direct, we also recognize that many Western Australian tour operators choose to use third party distribution partners in order to reach a wider audience than they could. do so through their own advertising and distribution strategies,” he said.
“We are always enthusiastic about generating direct bookings from our WA operators.
“At the moment, Tourism WA is largely focused on this objective, but the organization is also working in partnership with other WA-owned partners such as RAC and Sightseeing Pass.”
Warren-Blackwood MP Terry Redman says the Minister for Tourism pleaded ignorance of the growing trend for overseas accommodation booking platforms to raise prices to the detriment of the tourism provider’s reputation accommodation in the South West.
Mr Redman said booking platforms were increasing the cost and taking a bigger proportionate reduction in nights’ accommodation while providers only received a predefined floor and no benefit from the inflated prices.
‘The Minister denied any knowledge of foreign platforms raising prices without the knowledge of suppliers and his only advice was that anyone who experiences this should report it to Tourism WA,’ he said.
“The conclusion, from a consumer perspective, was that the high prices were set by the providers and were poorly reflected when visitors to the area considered the value of the accommodation product being paid for.
“The regional tourism industry welcomes visitors and works hard to provide the best possible experience at the most reasonable price for people exploring our part of the world.
“We have a lot to offer, but inflated accommodation prices due to online booking platforms taking advantage of suppliers, risk damaging the reputation of our region and the tourism industry.
“And the fact that these platforms are based outside of Australia and don’t pay tax in our country despite taking all the cream makes it even more frustrating.”