The rise of online booking sites increases the cost of your hotels

Huge online booking sites would raise hotel prices for everyone because of the commission they charge.

And, it is claimed, there are two reasons why you won’t find cheaper rates elsewhere.

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Booking comparison sites have been accused of ‘brandjacking’ independent hotelsCredit: Alamy

Currently, two companies – Booking Holdings, which owns booking.com, and Expedia Group, which owns hotels.com and Trivago – control 80% of the hotel comparison market.

David Weston, chairman of the Bed and Breakfast Association, told The Times that when you book through an online platform like this, around £1 out of every £5 spent goes to the booking site rather than the hotel itself. same.

This extra cost, which can be up to 20% of what you would otherwise pay, is passed on to the customer, resulting in higher rates for everyone.

He said: “Online travel agents don’t own accommodation, employ staff, welcome guests or take risks if rooms don’t sell out, but their power has grown over the years. point where they dominate our industry and have driven up the prices that consumers pay in the billions.”

    Websites are able to move a hotel lower when the hotel name is searched

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Websites are able to move a hotel lower when the hotel name is searchedCredit: Getty – Contributor

Mr. Weston says there are two main reasons why you won’t find a cheaper fare easily, if at all.

The first is a practice known as “brandjacking,” where comparison sites pay Google to appear high in the rankings.

Mr Weston revealed: “When consumers think they click on the name of a hotel or B&B at the top of search results, it’s usually a travel agent link in the name. of the hotel.”

This means that these comparison and booking sites completely dominate the internet, making it very difficult for smaller, independent hotels and B&Bs to make direct sales.

Desperate bed and breakfast and hotel owners therefore have no choice but to register with online travel agents and list their properties there.

These sites also often have a “rate parity” clause in contracts with hotels and bed and breakfasts, which means that properties listed on these sites are not allowed to offer a cheaper rate to customers who book direct. .

Both of these are completely legal, but can mean the cost of hotel rooms is much higher than otherwise.

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The Bed and Breakfast Association is now asking the UK competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), to ban both ‘brandjacking’ and ‘rate parity’ clauses.

Countries like France, Germany and Italy had already banned them, allowing for a fairer market for independent hotels.

Old Brewery guesthouse owner Frank McCready, 73, told The Times: ‘All that’s happening is they’re taking away the business you used to get straight and you end up paying them 20% commission.”

Google told him the only way to get above the hotel booking website in a search for his hotel would be to spend over £900 a month on advertising.

His petition to end the hijacking technique has reached over 2,000 signatures to date.

    Costs will make your vacation more expensive

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Costs will make your vacation more expensiveCredit: Getty – Contributor

A spokesperson for Expedia Group told Sun Online Travel: “We have a long history of supporting the B&B community. Last year, at the invitation of the President of the B&B Association, we supported National B&B Day, reaching out directly to B&B and guesthouse owners to answer their questions and advise them. on how an online travel agent can work for them if they choose.

“We were delighted to hear that the association received nothing but good feedback that day. We have also recently invested a lot of time and energy in working closely with the CMA to create a standard industrial useful for all UK booking sites offering accommodation search and booking services. .

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“Expedia Group represents just a small percentage of a $1.7 trillion travel market. We are a platform that helps level the playing field for all sizes of properties by giving them greater voice and greater online reach for all of our thousands of hosting partners worldwide.

“We are proud that by continuing to offer customers transparent and efficient ways to book travel, we can help support and grow the UK tourism industry.

Booking Holdings also told Sun Online Travel: “Everything we do is in the spirit of not only giving customers around the world access to the world’s best accommodation options at the best prices, but also bringing guests from around the world in our hotel and B&B partners, who may not have the means to invest millions in advertising to increase the global awareness of their property.

“At Booking, our partners can choose to register on our website at no cost, and we then invest millions in advertising to help fill their rooms every night and keep the global travel ecosystem thriving. “

When it comes to flights, Momondo has established itself as the best flight comparison booking site for the cheapest prices.

Despite this, the most popular was Skyscanner although it doesn’t always offer the best price.

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